Dancing is one of those things that makes me feel alive; I’ve been doing it since I can remember. It’s a huge piece of who I am and a crucial part of my identity.
At my wedding, my mother-in-law raved about what great dancers all my family and friends were. She asked me how we all learned to do our fancy footwork. It was a good question because I’m pretty sure none of us ever had a formal lesson. I told her it’s just something you pick up because you see it around you all the time. It’s akin to how children learn to walk; they see grown-ups doing it and imitate their steps. The same with dance – you spend so many hours immersed in a culture that loves to dance so inevitably you learn just the right way to sway your hips.
When my oldest daughter was born, my mother-in-law asked me how I would teach my children to dance if they weren’t growing up in a culture similar to the one I had in my youth. Her simple question went right to the heart of me. Next to learning the Spanish language, I believe dancing is an essential way to connect with your culture. As a kid, I enjoyed dancing at family gatherings, quinces, birthday parties, holiday celebrations – anytime you got even a handful of folks together, you would eventually end up dancing.
I’ve been trying my best to dance on a regular basis. Right now, at 26 months of age, it’s a whole lot of hip shaking and arm flapping which is fine by me. We’ve all got to start somewhere, right? If you’ve got any advice on how to get my girls to salsa and merengue their way through their childhood and into adulthood, please share!