I was reflecting on my Dance Experiences at Pura Vintage Salsa Festival 2012 in Richmond, VA– which were wildly divergent- particularly reviewing the different Salsa Faces I make based on the dance experience I am having. The faces evolved over the years from experiencing many different types of dancers. Each Patented Face depends on the Status, Perceived Level, Perceived Enjoyment or the Lack Thereof that Said Partner appears to have for MY Dance coupled with My Enjoyment, Intimidation or Comfort, and Connection with that Partner. Not all of the Faces listed were made at Pura Vintage but Here are Top 10 Salsa Faces I make and the reasons WHY they emerge:
1) “Flirtatious/Sexy” Face- I have the most connection with this partner regardless of status/level AND the song is Freeing my Mind/Body/Soul! Anything Goes in this Dance. The Ultimate Win/Win.
2) “Fierce Diva” Face– My Partner is a DIVO and he will style your Butt under a Table if you don’t come back with Some Fierce Attitude. This partner desires his girls to be Pretty, Stylish, Overly Feminine While also Following, Styling and Spinning Perfectly. So I affect The Rupal Realness Face for them. It usually works or at least forces a smile from the partner. Sometimes Win/Win, Sometimes Lose/Lose depending on if I was fierce enough for him.
3) “Please Like Me, I’m not a Bad Person” Face- An Infrequent Salsa Face when I’m dancing with a Salsa Pro or Up and coming Wannabe Star who I can tell is upset that I even had the audacity to ask him to dance much less think I can keep up with him. These Dances go one of two ways- He gives me a Revenge dance of Escalating Complexity complete w/Withering Looks to punish me for me even daring to be able to dance with someone as great as He OR he gives me relentless Cross Body Leads with one Turn to Bore the life out of me since he can be nothing but BORED dancing with the likes of me. Either Way, I endure and make a mental note to never dance with this jerk again. A win/win on both of our behalf’s since we will never dance with each other again.
4) “You are Doing Just Fine” Face– I’m dancing with a Beginner Type who is desperately trying to impress me and goes limp whenever he makes a mistake. My Look and subsequent words- YOU ARE DOING FINE, DON’T WORRY ABOUT IT, is meant to let him know I’m not judging him and it’s not a big deal- just part of the learning process. I want this person to continue on the path of getting better, not crush his spirit before he’s even started. Win/Win.
5) “I’m Drowning” Face– The Dancer has mistakenly believed I could do alot of complex stuff with no basic in between to catch my breath and I’m going down fast. I hate when this happens because This particular dancer started off with the basic tests one gives a dancer during the beginning of the song and because I passed with flying colors, he thinks its off to the races. Then his joyful looks suddenly turn to confusion and disappointment at my failure to keep up. I’m sad for him because he thought he had a winner and disappointed in myself. Lose/Lose.
6) “Bet you didn’t think I could Dance” Face- This partner dances with me because I asked or it is a charity dance on his part and he is enthusiastically surprised that I can keep up with him. He gives me looks of WOW, you got that one and is now joyfully trying out all of his untested repertoire on me to see what works. Depending on his level of execution, which could be Advanced Beginner to Pro, I’m either silently bored or feeling quite proud of myself. This face emanates from a place within that is saying, NEVER judge a book by its cover. Win/Win for my Ego.
7) The “I’m Trying to Be Nice but you are Testing my Patience” Face- This Beginner who thinks he is an Intermediate or Beyond is doing Dumb Ish with me but thinks he is rocking my world. He has no regard for my safety, comfort (he is being too rough), or connecting with me. He just wants to do his choreographed Turn Patterns which are clearly beyond his pay grade & Tricks that require timing and a pinpoint Lead, Both of which he lacks in spades. I’m trying valiantly not to walk off the floor so I put on the patently Fake Smile that is trying to convey weariness to no avail. Lose/Lose.
8) The Face of “Abject Fear”- This look is reserved for Dancers whose Dance I’m familiar with either from personal experience or from keen observation. No matter how much I think I’ve practiced, I won’t be fast enough, light enough, be able to pop spin on demand, or be responsive enough to fully follow their fast-paced, unconventional, tricky lead. The Dance is pure sport for such dancers and the experience of dancing with them is not unlike taking a test. Unless you are high up on their list of torture victims, you only get one dance a night with them although you secretly yearn for more abuse because you believe that what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger and better. Lose for them because they are not satisfied but win for me for attempting to meet the challenge.
9) The “Love” Face- This is for the regular or semi-regular dance partner who GETS my dance and accepts me totally- warts, farts, handicaps and all. This partner plays, challenges, grooves, and is only there for YOU during the Dance without judgment. Win/Win.
10) The “I don’t Give a Hoot” Face- The Song that we are dancing to is one of my FAVs and I want to sing along, clap, style outrageously hitting all the breaks, and in general act out how I’m feeling to the song. This sometimes doesn’t go over well with the partner but most graciously indulge me while secretly being embarrassed to the high heavens, I suspect. Either way, I don’t give a Fock and I’m going to shake my tail feather however I see fit. Always a Win for me.