Thursday Night Shenanigans at The DC Salsa Capital Congress

Nice representation at the opening night of the 11th Annual DC Capital Congress!   Intimate crowd of dancers who were friendly and ready to mingle on the dancefloor with everyone. The theme was short shorts and there were a sea of legs of various tonality ready to meet the challenge. Some men also indulged in the theme with special award going to Allenjandro Turner, who’s eye-popping short shorts ensemble gave DC Divo Orlando Machuca a STRONG run for the money in the category of Fabulousness and Cheek Exposure.

The music was a delightful mix of Salsa and Bachata with 4 DJs making sure that every sub genre of each style was played and most importantly,that the songs were DANCEABLE- Shout out to DJ Lorenzo Haire, DJ Iran Castillo, & DJ Parker Cocolo for holding it down and creating a great vibe for dancing!

ALL of my dances were stimulating, fun, and full of groove. My Salsa high was achieved with Johan, a performer and wonderful social dancer from UMDA of Orlando, FL who I met that night. We danced twice and after the second dance, he complimented me on being a really good follow. I was swollen with pride and endorphins and was feeling really good. That is, until 30 minutes later when I danced with Leon Rose.

The thing is, I have a long history with Leon Rose that I have tracked over the past 7 years as a barometer of my progress and yearly improvement or lack thereof in Mambo Dance. I’m not insinuating that he knows my name nor that he and I have had any type of substantial conversation between us and this includes small talk. But I do believe he is familiar with my face because I ask for my 2 pity dances a year every time I catch him stateside at a congress. Our yearly meetings are generally fraught with the tension of the SATs or GMATs on my part with the question of Did I PASS OR FAIL hanging in the balance.  The first few years, our encounters on the dancefloor did not go well- an understatement of gigantic proportions- and his feedback would be a series of unpleasant looks on his face. And the truth was, I was terrible. But in the past 3 years or so, his feedback was much more pleasant and he would whisper to me calm down or relax while he would still ramp up the barrage of tricky turnpatterns. I took that to mean that I was improving in his eyes and he was willing to push me because he felt that I SHOULD be able to follow him. Last year was the apex of our yearly meeting. He actually appeared to be ENJOYING our dance and I felt good about following him. But last night was quite simply a disaster. He quickly went into his bag of tricks and for some reason, I was just off and unstable. He was patient and looking at me like, YOU HAD ALL YEAR TO BE READY LADY and I was just shrinking like a guy’s male member in freezing water- No Bueno. In frustration, I said to him, So sorry, I will get it together. And Leon responded, “You need to just RELAX and not try to anticipate what I am going to do because many times, I don’t know what I am going to do.” I tried to rally at that point and keep it together and maybe he was encouraged at my efforts because he ramped up the complexity again. Possibly I was extra nervous because Iran Castillo and a band of guy dancers were watching our dance intensely and I was kicking myself that I was Focking up in such public forum. Thankfully, I did a little better after his words of encouragement and then mercifully, the song and my self inflicted torture ended.

Leon is a fantastic dancer and also a PATIENT dancer and for that, I am eternally grateful. Granted, he is a pro dancer but i appreciate that he didn’t dumb down the dance just because I happened to be flailing horribly like a headless chicken. He was still going to challenge me while showing me that everything would work out great if I would just wait for the lead and JUST FOLLOW.

Great night of dancing but Back to the Lab starting with workshops this weekend at the Congress because training/learning never ends but is instead a life long journey. Naturally, this includes taking Leon Rose’s workshops Friday/Saturday/Sunday so that I can redeem myself with followup dances with him NEXT YEAR.