I am rather proud of myself. Well, usually, I'm not too much of a gloater, but this weekend was just wonderful. Epiphanies abound!

One. I attended the two nights of the Singapore International Salsa Festival which took place at Downtown East. It featured a great mix of international and local instructors, different performances from the various studios and the legendary Johnny Polanco Y Conjunto Amistad band. The atmosphere was electric, there were familiar faces to dance with and the music...oh, the music...!

Two. Yet another first ; I took myself to the festival. I figured that most of the people I knew would have already gotten their tickets and I'd see them there anyways, so I just bought the night passes and went. I realized that going stag has its advantages because you spend less time standing around and more time on the floor which is a fantastic way to improve your skills.

Three. I got to meet and hug Johnny Polanco!!! ...and did a short dance too...He's like a big, teddy bear :o) If you ever get a chance to see this band in action, do it. This is one of the best, salsa bands in the world...listening to CDs are great and all, but you can never beat a live perofrmance where the band is tight, its beats and its rythms are solid and the members have times I was torn between dancing and watching the band.

Four. The foreign artists and instructors...I got to see them in action and was blown away. Our local guys are good but these instructors have something our local guys lack. And that is: love of the dance. Technically, we have all the moves and the speed but what is lacking is the total package. Salsa is sensual dance which incorporates the sexy and the technical and these guys have it in spades. So you get to see some moves that they pioneered, something new and get totally inspired yet again. What completely took the cake is that they are obliging to boot. I had to shut my usual shyness away and got to dance with some of the instructors from the US, India and even South America. Did it matter that I am an amateur who got some of the steps wrong? Hell no...what I got in return was a chance to hotfoot with some of the best...

And when not dancing...I fall back into observation mode. Well, it could be a people + comfort zone thing but I noticed that most of the students from the local studios tend to congregate on one side of the hall while the foreigners and more gung ho people dominated the other side. So, yes people tend to go where they find familiar faces, and even I do it too but it was a little strange to see this division. I mean, yah, some of these guys are devastatingly great on the dancefloor but why come to an international fest if you are only there to dance with your friends? It's weird...

Another thing that was interesting, yet a little sad was that almost all of the studios were represented at the fest. Except for the one I'm with. Only the guys and a handful of the ladies that I dance with showed up. But not a single instructor from the studio came. I'm sure that there are a myriad of reasons for this absence...but, well...I know that they are scheduled to perform ont he final night but it would've been wonderful to see at least some representation.

The heads from several other studios were there at least on one night...What you can see clearly from the other instructors who were present was that some of them taught a distinctive style and flair that is carried by their students. What I would've liked to see was my own instructors coming down to mix and mingle with everyone else. It would've been great to see them take a turn with other instructors...Yes, so there's competition. So what? It seems a little unsporting to only show up when you are scheduled to perform - maybe it's just me, but I've always liked to check out the competition.

Were there showoffs? Of course! But it was definately bigger than a night out at Union, that's for sure :o)

Overall, it was a fabulous experience. I'm exhausted and my feet hurt like a mother...but glad that I got out of my comfort zone to do this. While, it's reassuring to show up with friends and all, at the end of the day, salsa is a social dance which helps you improve when you get out there and learn from other people. Sure, you can look and learn but, then again, the fun really starts when you dance... :o)

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Ever prodded a sleeping dragon, only to have it whip up and bite you in the ass? Well, neither have I. But I advocate that you should try everything...once ;P


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