People often claim to be the best at something, but not often do you hear the exact opposite. You rarely meet someone at a bar who exclaims, “Hi. My name is Joe and I’m the worst swimmer in this whole country!” Well unfortunately I can literally make a claim of this nature after participating in a Salsa Dance lesson in Panama. Now I would have probably been in the bottom 1% of a Salsa Lesson anywhere in the world, but in a Latin American country where people are born with natural rhythm, my skills were comparable to Danny DeVito in a slam dunk contest!
In the beginning of the class you dance without a partner, which allowed me to maintain a sliver of dignity as most people were paying close attention to the instructors and not on the hilariously awkward and unbalanced gringo attempting something he will never be able to do. After desperately trying to follow the suave footwork of the dude in front of me for an hour or so I realized in horror the ungodly amount I was sweating. While most people were wearing athletic shorts and a tank top, this gringo thought he should dress up for salsa dance classes in pants and a button down. With a river of sweat pouring down my brow and inhibiting my vision it was time to finally choose a partner to dance with. Smelling like a used jock strap and sweatier than Chris Farley during a Yoga Class I couldn’t imagine any of these Latin women would choose the one guy in the group whose lack of dance skills were matched only by an even worse understanding of the Spanish language.
Sometimes God or whatever force causes random events looks positively upon this gringo as two of the cutest girls in my immediate vicinity approached me. Amazed by what had just happened, I found myself dancing with a beautiful Latin girl, unable to communicate, but she was genuinely trying to make some rhythm occur in my body. You know that feeling when you are watching someone do something so embarrassing you literally have to look away because you start feeling embarrassed? Well I’m pretty sure I caused that feeling for a bunch of people because eventually some locals realized that this gringo needed some advice. Now those of you who’ve had the pleasure (or misfortune) of meeting me have probably realized that I have a somewhat strange and bouncy walk. Now Salsa is all about small steps and sliding back and forth, definitely not bouncing up and down in any way shape or form. To my dismay a group of the better dancers in the group formed a semi-circle around me and began grabbing at my hips and trying to help move them for me. My partner was noticeably embarrassed with a look of “Why did I pick the gringo…” in her eyes and one person finally spoke some English and said “maybe you could have some rhythm if you stopped jumping and bouncing so much!” Wishing I had consumed some more liquid courage before the lesson I just refused to care and tried my best to make it work. Eventually we got to switch partners and I never saw my original partner again. Everyone was extremely nice and helpful, but my efforts were hopeless to say the least. At this point in time I do have the intention of trying this sensual Latin art again, but I definitely need something more than a group lesson. If I have any beautiful Latin Chica readers who are seasoned in the art of Salsa dancing and looking to teach a hopeless gringo, please feel free to contact me below!