Get off the Bench

“In the end, we only regret the chances we didn’t take.” Lewis Carroll

When I finally worked up the courage to go to my first social, I was in Salsa level 4 and it did not start off well. As I walked in and was giving my money, I looked up and I saw all the dancers. For some reason they all looked incredible. It was like a gala of all the best dancers in Toronto. The guys looked so fine and they were dipping girls, and turning them and were so good that they could dance with a girl and talk with other people, too! They were multitasking!  We were not taught multitasking in Salsa level four!

So I panicked. As I was handing over my money, the guy took it and I clenched the money and it became a tug of war. We were both pulling on the bill. I was not doing it consciously. I was holding back, freaking out and completely in awe of these dancers.

My doubts crept in. I was not sure I belonged. The money started to rip and the guy looked up; “Dude, are you actually gonna come in?” and I looked down at him and I looked at the money. “Fine, yes.” So I let go of the money and he gave me my change. 

When I went inside I immediately sat down on the bench and I freaked out. At this point. I had been dancing for almost a year and I still did not feel ready. I didn’t want to embarrass myself. I didn’t want to embarrass the girl, and so, I sat down. I didn’t ask anybody to dance and the more I watched people, the more intimidated I became. 

My head was whipping around, looking at everyone on the dance floor and I was thinking: “I don’t know this move, I don’t know that move.  How did they do that? How much do I have to pay to learn that move?” 

As I was spiraling down, I felt someone looking at me. So I looked to my right and I saw this girl smiling at me and then looking at the dance floor, over and over again.

It is the universal sign for “dude ask me to dance” right? But I was so scared that I shrunk down as small as I could, turtled into myself and moved away from her. Maybe she wouldn’t notice? 

I was terrified to dance. What if I forget how to dance? What if I step on her toes? What if I look stupid and she walks away in the middle of the dance? I moved to a different part of the bench. Maybe I would be luckier in a different spot? So now I was sitting between two women who were both giving me the universal sign. 

I felt really insecure and I didn’t want to ask anyone but after about a minute and a half, I somehow woke myself up and gave myself a little mental pep talk. “Dude you know what, it’s just a dance. It’s okay. You are level four! Believe in yourself!”

So with my newfound courage and a big,confident smile, I turned my head to ask the woman on my right to dance. Before I could even form the words, she was gone, already dancing with someone else. I turned to the woman on my left and she too was gone. I was crushed. Everyone else was dancing, and I was still sitting on the bench. 

Bitterness has a taste. And for me, the flavor was like metal in my mouth. Thoughts rushed into my head. It’s not fair. Why does it have to be hard for me? Why is this such a struggle? You know what, maybe this isn’t for me. It’s okay. I will focus on classes and that’s fine. 

So I got up heartbroken, started to pack up and call it a night and thought maybe I should just stop dancing altogether.

Then I felt a tap on my shoulder and I looked back and I didn’t see anyone. I looked down, and there’s a tiny, little lady who said “Do you want to dance?”

My confidence was gone and I just wanted to go home and hide away. “Listen, it’s my first time. Are you sure? I’m not really good.”

Her reply was the best, full of energy, light, confidence and belonging. “If I wasn’t sure, I wouldn’t ask. Let’s go.”

So we get on the dance floor and we start dancing and gang within 30 seconds I stepped on all her toes. But she didn’t stop dancing. And as the song finished, she hugged me and she said “Hey, it happens. Don’t worry. Keep dancing.” 

As she was hugging me, I looked back and I was a foot away from the bench, from my anchor. From sitting and watching others to joining yourself, the distance is only a foot. It feels far when you’re sitting but it’s just a step.

As my partner walked away it felt like a life preserver leaving me, so I grabbed her arm. Clutching my life preserver, I asked “hey can we dance again?” She smiled and replied, “Sure just don’t step on my toes again.”

And you know what gang?…

I stepped on her toes…I really did. lol

At least it was the other foot – so I guess I evened them out.

Fast forward 8 years and now I am running the largest Salsa dance school in Canada.

I realize that when I’m 103, my biggest regrets in life will be all the times I didn’t get off the bench. I waited too long. I made excuses. I made up stories because bitterness is when you give up on the things you want and you blame the circumstances, your surroundings and yourself.

So I want to tell you it’s never too late. It’s never too late to get off your bench and go do the things you want to do. Be courageous and take the leap of faith. Because sometimes you’re just a foot away from where you’re meant to be.

I can’t wait to welcome you to our big family, have you coming in week to week, having fun, socializing, and letting loose to amazing Latin songs. Click here to check our current schedule. 

If you have any questions you would like me to answer here are some ways you can contact me: message me on Instagram (torontodanceSalsa), on Twitter (#torontodanceSalsa), on Facebook (Toronto Dance Salsa) or email me at [email protected]

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