A year ago this month, Scott and I took our first salsa dancing lesson with Mr. Perez at the Arthur Murray Dance Studio in Kentwood, a suburb of Grand Rapids. This was long before we decided to get married, so we didn’t do this for wedding purposes at all. We started salsa dancing lessons because we had just spent New Year’s Eve at a Global Pachanga — in other words, one big Latin dancing party — at the JW Marriott in downtown Grand Rapids. We knew about three salsa steps at the time, which we had learned after one salsa dancing lesson at the Michigan Athletic Club in East Lansing, where I teach yoga twice a week. Anyway, at the end of the night, I looked around the room, exhilarated and exhausted, and told Scott I wanted to dance as well as all the couples who had owned the dance floor that night. I said we should take salsa dancing lessons. He was totally down with the idea.
Arthur Murray is more formal a place than either one of us would normally go to — it’s probably the only setting I’m regularly in where you can’t call someone by their first name — but we couldn’t find any lessons in Lansing and this studio had a special, low-priced introductory offer for two lessons.
We figured we’d take advantage of the deal, and see what happens. But we were both hooked within the first five minutes — hooked as much on salsa lessons as our teacher. If you’ve already read the More on the troublemakers page of this website, you know that we credit our lessons with Mr. Perez not only for the fact that we know a lot more steps and turn patterns now, but for actually strengthening our relationship. On Fridays, at the end of high-paced, often stressful weeks (we work in communications — it’s par for the course), we try to head to Grand Rapids for a salsa lesson and dinner. It’s crazy important quality time — we get to be with each other without any other pressures.
There’s no other time in the week when I laugh as much as I do during the 45 minutes we’re with Mr. Perez. He’s a genius of a teacher — and I don’t say that lightly, because I’ve been lucky to have brilliant teachers guide me throughout my life in various disciplines.
After our lesson this weekend, we looked at our tally sheet and it was determined that we had had 30.5 lessons since we had started with Mr. Perez (the first three were sort of half lessons). So, one year later, at the end of salsa dancing lesson No. 31.5 with Scott, I felt what I feel at the end of every lesson — how lucky I am to have the opportunity to move through life with such a cool partner.
By the way . . . here’s a video of Mr. Perez. If you want to meet him in person, Scott and I will see what we can do. 😉
(Photo credit: Photo of Martin Perez by Cathie Rownd, via the (Fort Wayne, Ind.) Journal Gazette.)