Sunday, July 15, 2007

Improving Your Perspective In One Night: Part 2

OK... now it's 4:13 am, and I've been home around 30 minutes and this is another of those raw postings, where tomorrow I'll wake up and wonder how so many grammar/spelling/typo's could be in one post. I'm tired but I want to get down as much as I can remember before I go to sleep. I'll add links to appropriate sites ASAP in case you don't recognize the names. You can assume any of the named people below are top tier, world-class dancers.

Little did I know last night when writing my perspective follow-up, that tonight would be so different. I show up at the Granada around 11:30 pm or so, a little later than usual for me, but since it runs until 3am, no big deal.

I walk in and the place is smoking with loud music and the energy level is high. The crowd is intense, and that means somewhere between 350 and 450 people dancing up a storm. Chino Espinoza is burning on stage, and everybody is carving out their space on the crowded floor. After paying the cover, I walk toward the floor and I see Liz Lira social dancing and looking great (Mayan champion and more), then I see Janette Valenzuella (another world-class dancer), she waves. Abel Pena (ESPN World champ 2 years running, Mayan champ) is dancing with his girl friend (and they are looking really sexy together) and I'm wondering, "why are there so many A list people here tonight?"

I work my way to the other end of the room, start my first dance and I spot Ruby Karen social dancing 15 feet away from me (another Mayan champ and more). On the next song, I notice the guy who finished first place in the Mayan amateur division this year. He's dancing with a very sexy follow who is making it all look so easy, and they are grinning having a great time. Cristian Oviedo, another world class lead is across the room and I'm starting to wonder, what is going on here?

I mention it to someone else, and they point out that Zulmara Torres (Abel's partner, ESPN World champ 2 years) is also in the room along with Martin Avedano (another ESPN finalist).

Liz Lira sits down right next to me on a quick break, and I ask her if something special was happening tonight. She says she had no idea the others were attending, she just decided to go out, and later Ruby says something similar. They simply happened to all show up on the same night.

The place was crawling with 25 excellent couples, then a few hundred social dancers spanning from beginner to some of the best.

It was amazing, inspiring and humbling all at the same time. Last night I was among the best leads (same place, different crowd) and tonight I wasn't in the top 20 leads, maybe lower. I just looked around, grinned, and realized tonight was my little fish in the big pond night. While I'm able to name a set of dancers, there were another 20-40 people who hang around the best dancers and they are not too far away themselves.

I had a great time, but it was a complete contrast to last night. Being around so many great dancers was inspiring but also made me want to simply go home and practice! Maybe in your scene, you need to attend one of the congresses, and/or drive a little further to get to the hot spot, but seeing the higher end is also a wonderful growing experience, even when it makes it painfully obvious that there is so much to learn.

This wasn't news to me, but seeing so close to the night where I was the bigger fish really pounds the message home for me. I may be able to find someplace where I'm one of the stronger dancers, but 24 hours later I will be just one of the crowd, until I pay the dues necessary to grow and mature as a dancer.

There are always very strong dancers at the Granada, tonight was exceptional, exciting, humbling and amazing all in one.

I hope you can find the same type of inspiration in your scene. If not, plan a trip to LA, NY or one of the other hot spots around the country and be prepared for a treat.

Again, let me know what you do to keep your perspective straight.
Everyone has a talent; but rare is the courage to follow the talent to the place it leads.
-Erica Jong

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Don Baarns - Unlikely Salsero