Without realizing it, every day we end or begin a new adventure. They may not always be exciting or glamorous but they take us to different places nonetheless. It is no surprise then that sometimes multiple journeys can begin and end in the exact same place. It was the night of July 4th, 2008. After a 6 week trek my partner, Camela Adams, and I found ourselves on the stage at 6 Degrees nightclub awaiting our fate in the second TDS amateur salsa competition. Move forward 11 months and once again, my partner, Winnie Fung, and I found ourselves in the exact same situation. The destination and result turned out the same in both cases but the journeys were distinctly different and special in their own ways.

I remember hearing our names announced as the 2nd place couple at last year’s competition. I remember giving Camela a big hug of congratulations. I remember the elation of working so hard and being rewarded for that effort. I was proud of our accomplishment and satisfied in the outcome. Nothing wrong with second; to me it felt as if we had won. “Are you competing again next year?” I’d hear. My answer was always “no.”If I never competed again, I knew I was pleased with the outcome. In all honesty, I had no plans of entering the competition again. I figured my time had passed and it was now up to others to compete and surpass what had come before (which has been a trend of this competition). Than, one day, I was asked by a friend if I’d have any interest in competing with her. I was caught off guard and yet the question awoke something within me. As you’ve guessed by now, that friend was my partner for this year’s competiton, Winnie.

I met Winnie while helping in some classes last summer, right around the time of my previous foray into the competition. Her skills on the dance floor were obvious from the beginning. In addition to that, she was (and is) a genuine, friendly and intelligent person. We got along right off the bat. A few months later we had the good fortune of being in the helper’s performace group together. Through this I came to know her better and as a result had no qualms about accepting her proposal to enter this year’s competition. I am glad that I did.

Camela and Winnie are both extremely skilled dancers and I am honoured to have had the chance to compete with both of them. I always find it interesting how different personalities work together. When looking back at the creative process I was amazed at how quickly the anticipation of what we would come up with returned. Ideas went back and forth, choreography changed, and on occasions, frustrations arose (mostly from me though I’m sure I wasn’t exactly easy to work with-sorry Winnie) but we worked together to create something we were both proud of. Winnie’s attention to detail was the perfect complement to my laid back nature. In the end the balance we obtained made the process enjoyable and allowed us both to put our prints on the routine.

Competition night is always an interesting blend of anticipation, nerves and, above all, excitement. This year was no different. Once on stage, the entire routine was a flash. All I could recall was the music starting and then hitting the end pose. As we finished something happened that I didn’t totally expect and yet was likely the most memorable moment of the night. Having finished the routine and performed it as well as we did, Winnie gave me a big hug. In an absent minded moment I told Winnie that we now had to bow and acknowledge the audience. It was only upon reflection that I realized how much the moment had meant. Regardless of where we ended, the imporant thing was that we had both shared a special performance. I also realized how much it meant to Winnie to have gone through with it. I suppose on some level I had become caught up in the competition and lost sight of the importance of just having fun. With that one action, Winnie had reminded me of the joy of just performing without care for where things would end. It also reminded me of how important it was for her and in the end I was honoured to have been able to share that with her. My biggest fear going in was that I would let her down, luckily she let me know that what was important was to have fun. Of course, I always have fun dancing salsa but the excitement in Winnie gave me the reassurance that no matter what happened, we had done what we had set out to do. Thank you, Winnie, I will treasure our partnership and friendship forever.

As we stood on the same stage, receiving the same placement as I had received the year before I knew two journeys had ended on that spot. However, just because a journey ends does not mean that the people we meet on that path leave us. Camela and I remain friends and I look forward to doing the same with Winnie. Thanks to you both, the experiences we’ve shared transcend salsa.

As a closing note, congratulations to all the participants…you all rocked it!

Hasta la proxima.

Sigan bailando!