The Drive to Dance


Both of my big toes have little bruises. I wouldn't trade them for the world. They come from dancing on Monday nights.

We were born to move. My niece was even dancing in her ultrasound, my sister said. So I guess we do it before we're born, too.

I still miss someone, so last night I took myself back to salsa lessons. Life keeps expanding no matter who shows up or doesn't and we have to keep dancing. It is the only way to live.

This third round of classes (I'm in "2b" now) brings a whole new circle of people, some familiar, others new. We are all learning and what I love most is the diverse experience of dancing with different people each time the instructors say "next partner," and the inner circle shifts clockwise one notch. Everything changes except the music.

Some of the leads I danced with last night were really good. Others are still learning basics. One could barely keep time to four beats in a row, let alone eight. I absolutely loved dancing with him, though, because he smiled the entire time. I smiled back. He was being brave. He was taking "2b" after only having one salsa lesson ever in his life. The drive to dance is strong.

I stayed after class to practice with a new friend who asked me. My toes were starting to feel the pressure of having danced for an hour in barely-broken-in shoes, but I told him "I'll stay for 30 minutes" and he agreed. We practiced the moves we'd just learned. Over and over he would twirl me in close, then lead me into an outside turn, then we'd do a move our instructors call "Macarena Muffintop." You sort of do the Macarena, then the follow (that's me) stands behind the lead and puts her hands on his waist for a few steps, holding on tight before the lead pulls her back out in front of him for a turn. "Muffintop is the shape our waists make after the holidays," the instructor explained. Everyone laughed.

It is Tuesday now and my toes are tender. Rubbing them gently with arnica and sesame oil, I closed my eyes and felt my heart beat. A small sigh escaped my chest, content that for this moment, I am living fully. I am learning to dance.