Some time in 2011-
On those random nights where I don't want to stay home (okay, well... let's face it, that's almost every night), I'd find myself at places like The Matrix on Fillmore in San Francisco. There would be no Timba played and no Casino dancers, but whatever; I just wanted to be out and have a good time.
I was minding my own business along the perimeter of the dance floor when a woman came up to me and asked me to dance. I smiled, nodded, and stepped out onto the floor with her.
It soon became very obvious that she'd had one too many drinks, as she decided to keep herself from falling down by rubbing up on me as much as possible. Now normally, any red-blooded male wouldn't say "no" this; but when the person doing this to you is about to fall over, it's not really very exciting. I was a little dumbfounded, but smiled, gently pushed her away, and tried to keep her at a safe distance.
After what seemed like 15 minutes of this, I felt someone tap me on the shoulder. Looking over, it was another guy asking if he could cut in. I "begrudgingly" nodded and walked away.
As soon as I stepped off the dance floor, another guy approached me. "Thank you for being a gentleman. The guy cut who cut in is my friend, and that girl is my sister."
So by now, you've probably asked yourself one of these questions:
"Why the hell should I take lessons from this guy?"
"Why should I listen to this guy in the first place?"
"He's probably just trying to make a quick buck."
"He's probably just another pretender off the street who's just shouting as loud as he can from on top of his virtual soapbox."
Truth is... you're correct to ask that question. You really don't have to listen to me.
I don't have the pedigree of some of the other well-known Casino instructors across the US, who are more than capable of showing off some really intricate pretzels, promenades, and footwork.
I have never been to Cuba. I have never studied with Yanek Revilla, Russ Hamer, or Henry Herrera.
I haven't been teaching for more than ten years. I've been a substitute/teacher's aide for about 5 years; in June, I'll have taught on my own for one year.
However, as a wise man once said: Being aware is more important than being smart.
Enter the Concepts Class. After moving to Portland and getting a feel for the experience level of the community here, I wrote up a few lesson plans (I also pulled out some older ones that I had been working on) and showed them to a class of about eight people. Some stuff worked, and some didn't; some students have stayed, others have left; new people have joined, as well. With the new students come new material. It's been a continual tweaking process since that first class.
I'll be honest: instructing is still a learning process for me, and I've definitely had a stumble or two along the way; however, I'm learning from my students just as much as they're learning from me. It's been a very satisfying experience from Day One.
In an ironic twist, instructing has taken on more of a parental role for me. I watch my students grow, progress, and improve. Eventually, they will have nothing left to learn from me, and they'll strike out on their own. I'll show my students what I know, and when the time comes, they'll leave. Keeping this in the back of my mind, I've learned not to take it personally if a student decides not to come to my classes anymore.
To my students- I've said this before, but I'll say it again:
I won't "teach" you anything. I'll be a signpost for you, to point you in the right direction to go, and to give you the tools I feel will help you excel. Use the information I give you as you see fit. That is all that I'll do for you, and nothing more.
The philosophy behind good social dancing, leading, following, and topics that discuss more than just Salsa Cubana.