22 – Murray D – How a Graceless Gringo Became a Salsa Sensation
I put time and effort into learning Salsa, but it didn’t go anywhere. Why do some people learn dancing better and quicker than others?
A few months back, I got to see my Scottish friend, Murray dancing with some of my female friends in a house party. They weren’t experienced Salsa dancer, and yet, he made them feel great and look great while he was doing it. Everything he did was smooth, effortless and graceful, and he was having a ball.
And to top it off – 12 months before, he had no clue how to dance Salsa, let alone teach and lead a partner. Wow.
This is exactly what I wanted when I took Salsa lessons in Colombia when I lived there. And yet, despite spending 20 hours in one-on-one lessons (and even focussing on leading), I never got to the point of feeling comfortable walking into a club and dancing with someone. Salsa seemed complicated, and got me in my head. I definitely wouldn’t have it in me to take a non-experienced dancer and create a great experience for both of us.
I’ve also seen other friends of mine who spent a lot of time learning Salsa the same way I did, and they did get better. But the skill they developed was “professional dancing”. If they had a trained dancing partner, they could put on an impressive show. But just walking into a club and dancing with a partner, regardless of her skills? Nope. Did they seem smooth and effortless? Nope once again.
So I wanted to chat with Murray about what he did differently.
Murray is a true artisan, and quite masterful at quickly learning new skills. He was a university boxing champion, has spent long stretches of time sailing at sea and worked at being a pearl diver. Those all represent skills that he learnt “on the job”.
And in this chat we talk about how he took his dancing from awkward Gringo to smooth Salsero.
- What was his motivation for improving his dancing
- Where did he go to learn Salsa, and what did he do differently
- Why dance teachers usually focus on teaching beginners more moves
- Why you should – instead – focus on perfecting the fundamentals
- How were his skills and results different from his friend who spent as much time learning Salsa, but focussed on learning more elaborate dance moves?
- How to make your dancing looks look more smooth
- Why Murray recommends focussing on giving your dance partner a good experience beyond everything else
- How Murray’s background in Boxing helps him with dancing
- How to use group lessons with other beginners to test and improve your leading skills
- How long it took Murray to “get good” and how did he know he was
- How positive momentum take over once you start enjoying dancing
- Why you have to know you’re going to suck for a while, and how to get past that period
- How Murray thinks about “collecting skills” and why he enjoys it so much
I had a great chat with Murray, I think you’d enjoy it.
If you have any questions or want any tips regarding dancing, Murray would love to help – free of charge and with no business intentions. Drop him a line – dancinghacks [at] gmail [dot] com
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