This I Believe

Nell - Oxnard, California
Entered on January 10, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50

I believe every woman should salsa dance. It mitigates the negative effects and unattainable expectations our culture places on woman.

I was first exposed to salsa dancing as a young child while watching the Latin Dance Competitions on PBS. The dancers were flawless. They were smooth, slick and sexy. But they were professionals.

As an adult, I watched the movie, “Born Romantic”, about finding love in the midst of the salsa scene in London. So, during a trip to Europe, I investigated the genuineness of the movie’s portrayal of London’s salsa scene. After all, the movie depicted ‘everyday’ people, not glitzy professionals.

Sure enough, the movie was true to life. For two nights, I explored various salsa clubs on my own and danced to the wee hours; stopping only to drink tall glasses of ice water. All kinds of people were there. In retrospect, I don’t recall too much alcohol use around me. It seemed to be all about the dancing.

The evening before I left London, I was Cinderella for a night. I enjoyed myself salsa dancing so much that I forgot the time. When I finally looked at my watch, I realized my “all day” pass for the TUBE (the London subway) was due to expire in five minutes, at midnight. I ran through the streets of London and jumped on the last train to my hotel before I turned into a pumpkin! The next day while boarding the plane back home, it dawned on me I hadn’t ‘gotten around’ to seeing Buckingham Palace!

I shared my London experience with a co-worker, whose is from Puerto Rico and has been salsa dancing for years. She listened intently and responded, in a thick Puerto Rican accent, “Yes, I know the power of salsa. If I do not salsa, I will die.”

Now I attend salsa lessons every Wednesday night. Ironically, I always feel too tired to go. But I force myself to refresh my make-up, put on dangly earrings, dancing shoes and get myself there, because I know, once I am there, I will transform.

As I step to the beat, the worries and stress of the day melt away. As the lesson continues, the cultural pressures of perfection I can’t live up to, disappear; the magazine images, the anti-wrinkle creams I am bombarded with on the periphery of my email account, and the all-too-often experience of witnessing male friends gawk at any female passing by, evaporate.

As I spin, swirl and laugh, I am vibrant, strong and powerful. When I strike my arm high above my head into the air and slowly run my my fingers through my hair while swaying my hips, I am the most beautiful woman in the world; curves, fine lines and all.

After the lesson, I go home and fix myself a tall glass of ice water. I wipe my brow of perspiration and think to myself; every woman should salsa dance.