One of my current hobbies is Afro-Latin dancing, which I have been doing on and off for about ten years now. Initially, I was too up and down with my work to give it much time but when I finally got a more settled job a couple of years ago, I was able to sign up for private classes and this has taken my dancing game to a whole other level. I have a couple of other hobbies and each of them has its place but Afro-Latin dancing is a class apart.
So why do I dance? And why Afro-latin dancing in particular?
For starters, there’s something about the Afro-Latin music that just hits the right spot. Currently trending in the Ugandan Afro-Latin community are Salsa, Bachata, Kizomba, and to a lesser extent Cha-Cha and Merengue. Latino-sounding music has always been one of my favourite music genres, and so has reggae. Latino music and its mash-up with the latter (reggaeton) takes me to a special kind of happy place. Kizomba sounds a lot like the Zouk and Semba of my childhood, thus suffusing me with warm feelings each time I hear it. I find bachata closest to "mainstream" music; it is more intuitive and easy to execute than its cousins and it is my favourite. It also has the best remixes of "regular" songs.
To me dancing is the most logical response to music I like. It is one thing to listen to and appreciate a tune, a progression, lyrics and instrumental compositions but it’s a whole other thing to respond to what you are hearing with one’s whole being. Swaying with the strings, stepping with the drums, bouncing with the bass, rolling with the groove… That’s what dancing is about to me.
Being able to do so in a way that makes others watching want to jump in and join makes the dancing even more fun. Knowing that in my personalized response to what I am hearing is another’s enjoyment is very rewarding in and of itself.
Dancing lifts my mood. Many a time I have showed up for a social dance feeling blue but after a few minutes of spins and dips, I am on cloud nine. I find it to be great way to unwind after a long day/week or to prep my mood ahead of a stressing week. Some might say it is because of the “feel good” hormones released by the physical activity but I don’t get the same kick out of working out (not that I work out much – LOL).
Speaking of physical activity, Afro-latin dancing especially Salsa, is great on that front. It is a fun way to get in some cardio and core work outs. There’s a lot of movement and quite a bit of leg work. In order to get the posture, spins, jumps and dips right, a lot of attention to the core is required. It is said that core strengthening exercises make one a better dancer – I am yet to explore that. The arms, waist, neck, head all play a role in dancing so it is full body work out that leaves me sweaty, breathless and happy.
I also find social dancing to be a good, non-threatening way to socialize, like an ice-breaker. On the floor, if I’m dancing with someone I do not know, we’ll probably exchange names and a few basics that can set the foundation for later conversation. If I’m dancing with a friend, it is a time to catch up on each other’s lives. The global coverage of this kind of dancing means that I have common ground on which to interact with someone from a different country or even someone who speaks a different language, as long as they are a fellow Afro-Latin dancer.
These are some of my reasons why Afro-Latin dancing is currently such a big thing in my life. What are your reasons for engaging in the hobby that you do? Let me know in the comments.