Salsa + Patterns

A months ago, my salsa teacher approached me about teaching the beginner class, noting that I was a good student, charismatic, and already helping people learn things.

My response then was a bit of blushing and “I’ll think about it…”

After that, I spent time stalking different teachers and listening to how they explained the mechanics of their moves to everyone. I let my teacher know I was committed to helping as a volunteer and we tried to work on a process for shadowing classes.

I emphasize: we tried.

My teacher and the second-in-command took a combination work/vacation trip for the next two weeks. This meant that all the volunteer teachers shifted and that left me alone with a beginner class of 5 students.

I was a bundle of nerves most of the class, but we had fun learning the basic movements of casino (the proper name for this) for the next hour. The students were sharp. One in particular stuck out as he was good at analyzing moves.

Plot twist: he was a previous ballroom dance instructor as were a couple of friends he brought. He had one critique in all of that teaching time and that was that I should face the same direction to make left and right easier to follow.


Most of the students were like, “Oh, this was his first time teaching? Didn’t seem like it. He didn’t seem nervous.”

Part of that was that teaching is an entire mode of being I go into and it follows me everywhere; in most places that I spend any significant amount of time, I end up teaching or, more accurately, translating concepts. This happens more and more as I get older. Maybe I’m just noticing as my observation skills sharpen.

While keeping my composure comes in handy, I note with a bit of sadness that it is so easy for me to behave as if everything is fine when I am very much not that on the inside. Teaching is a skill as is maintaining composure under trying circumstances, but there is always bleed-over in these things from your work life into your personal ones when it comes to things like hiding your emotions in plain sight.

At least, that’s my observation.

Also: I get to teach again next Wednesday.

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