Monday, July 21, 2008

The Best Time to Learn

Maybe you've already heard:
"The best time to learn dance was twenty years ago.
The second best time is now."

Maybe you can relate: Many, many, many, many times I've wished I had started dancing years earlier (decades in my case). For a hundred reasons I didn't start earlier, so I have to simply say to myself, "Too bad... you didn't do it then, so shut up, take classes, practice, and make the most of now!"

It's easy for me to see all the younger people dancing up a storm and wishing I had understood the fun available in the dance world. But I didn't. I was having a great time in the music and business world, so at that time I was focused there.

I don't mean to complain about my background, my previous experiences help many aspects of dancing over time, but it doesn't make learning some patterns, connections or footwork any easier.

Maybe you're similar. Maybe we should have started earlier. But so what? I didn't. If you did, more power to you. Otherwise, the harsh reality is "too bad!" and then move on. It may be tougher when we are older, but it's worth it. We're building strength, coordination, balance, mind-body connections and other helpful skills that pay off as we continue to mature.

Life often seems easier in the rear view mirror.
If you are not pushing yourself and tuning your dancing, now is the time... Just do it and do as much as possible. Practice when you can, keep growing all the time, and enjoy the ride along the way. If you simply keep doing it, the rewards continue to grow over time.

You will be fitter both mentally and physically, you meet lots of interesting people and learn more about yourself. You'll look and feel better, interact with people than otherwise possible, and improve the overall quality of your life.

It's too bad everybody doesn't partner dance, the world would be a better place. Until that happens (don't hold your breath), at least you keep at it, even when it seems like it would have been more fun earlier in life. Most of us wish we were better today, but at least we can be stronger tomorrow, and that's a major win if we continue down that path.

Let me know what you're doing to move yourself forward and stay in the dance game.
Most problems precisely defined are already partially solved.
--Harry Lorayne


  1. As an adult learner myself, I often wish I had more flexibility, faster reflexes, and more experience. That said, I'm actually glad I found this passion as an adult because I never ever take it for granted and count myself lucky each day to have it in my life. It makes me work that much harder and take that many more risks. Somehow I think that if I'd started younger I'd take it more for granted.

  2. Great perspective! I'm with you on the flexibility and experience.

    What I find interesting is how much I've improved my flexibility over time. I suspect someone younger could do more, but often they "just want to dance" and they actually do less.

    Based on where I started, I've made amazing progress and realize over time I can improve even more.

    There are some advantages being a little older, and they play out over time. More mature people often use previous life experiences to accelerate current activities.

    No matter what age, dancing is a win in terms of physical and mental health. Not to mention it's the most fun you can have standing up.

  3. I really have no regrets about starting late in life (post-50!). For one thing, I'm far more confident and relaxed now than when in my 20's, and can't help thinking that many of the women I dance with would have turned down the younger, geekier version of myself.

    Plus, with my kids grown, I have lots more time and money for lessons, travel, and clubs. And I appear to have made it onto an amateur dance team where my partner is younger than my daughter.

    And doesn't salsa keep you young? Or is it just that the low lights at the clubs make people think you're young?:-)

  4. As another post 50ish Salsa learner I to can say I'm glad I started (for the most part). That "most part" revolves around my learning from coaches.

    I've been at this since January, been through 4 beginner classes, 2 level 2 classes, and numerous private lessons. Two studios, 3 private instructors, and with next weeks boot camp, will hit the $1000mark invested.

    One of my private coaches last week said I should take his beginner class. WHAT! The two weeks prior, I had had several conversations with people who were surprised at the two coaches I was seeing, as they both taught different style. Huh? One teaches club/street Salsa, the other Ballroom Salsa. "You mean to tell me I've been going in two different directions at the same time? "Yes". This was very discouraging. I've looked at countless videos on the web, purchased DVD training material, and listened to my coaches only to find that they are all doing the same moves entirely differently (just see how many enchuflas you find).

    How is anyone going to learn this (especially us "mature" ;-) people if there is no common ground. I invite people over to my home to practice who are with a different studio (one I was at, but left to seek a more professional studio) and just working on simple things like a cross body is difficult as what they have been shown, and what I've been taught are different.

    To date, I have been shown THREE different things to do with my right leg on 5 in a ladies under arm turn by the different coaches/studios.

    One of the bottom lines to all this is that the people that start Salsa are bailing out after the first basic class. I see a drop of 80% from the beginners class to a second level class. And while this of course does include people who were just checking things out or were doing it to be social for a few weeks, I don't see a studio surviving on those numbers.

    And before I step off of this soap box ;-), much can be done to benefit people learning Salsa ( I have a list ;-). To start, even a simple thing like a syllabus would be helpful so students could refer to the web to see that there are 7 ways to do a cross body, and learn their spanish because some studios are saying "Dela Que No" and some say cross body lead.

    Studios/coaches! You're making it harder than it needs to be.


I love feedback. Your thoughts, feelings and comments are appreciated. Civil disagreements and other points of view are always welcomed!

Feel free to send me private mail if appropriate.

Don Baarns - Unlikely Salsero