Before I get started, I have to confess that I am hardly a dancer. In fact, those near and dear to me mock my moves because of how quickly and furiously I shuffle my legs without any upper body movement.
And so despite my penchant for disco and swing, I have become a wallflower of sorts amidst the bottom shuffling women with whom I hang out.
For four years now I had been gazing out my window to a flashing neon sign that hangs just above a second story studio across the street from my 72nd Street apartment in New York City. The words "Salsa," "Waltz," and "Mambo" paint my view like skyscrapers in the night. Once back in 2005, I made it to the stairwell of this mysterious cove but opted for stiff Vodka instead at the Irish Pub next door.
I receive those annoying monthly blue mailers replete with coupons, so I had a collection of red and yellow vouchers tucked away in a drawer. Finally, on a rainy night this past April, I walked over and enrolled for 10 private dance lessons with the studio instructors.
I assumed on the evening of my first session that the room would be filled with couples preparing for their first dances. Yet amidst the soon-to-be marrieds I spotted 3 single guys, there independently, taking lessons just like me. Despite being in a room filled with ceiling high mirrors, this calmed my nerves as did Val, my tiny and taut Lithuanian instructor. I laughed my way through the first combination as he led me through the sequence of steps and gave me proper posture pointers. It was not the dirty dancing with Patrick Swayze that put a smile on Baby's face but the liberation from flow and movement that I felt that evening.
Tonight I am preparing to take lesson number 9 where I will learn the Mambo. (Funny how that worked out). And while I will never be invited to "Dance With the Stars," I've found that the view is a lot more rewarding from the inside.