The Worst Four Minutes of My Life

2 Apr

Last week I wrote about some of the GADs (God Awful Dancers) that can almost make you want to call it quits in your dancing career.

That post actually started out with me thinking about the worst dancing experience I ever had and the article took a slightly different turn. So this week I though I’d tell you about the horrifying event that inspired last weeks article.

Once upon a time…
… in a far away kingdom called Colombia, in the sultry heat of a city called Cali, there was a Dancing Irishman.

I was relatively fresh off the boat, having only arrived in the city a couple of months previously but I was already fairly familiar with the dance scene in the city. I was far from being a great salsa-caleña dancer but I could definitely hold my own in the clubs where a few basics will get you far.

It all started when a buddy of mine asked me to join him and his girlfriend on a night out dancing. To be more specific he told me that he “needed” someone to accompany his girlfriend’s sister. It’s normal in Colombia (unlike salsa scenes in non-Latin countries) for people to go out in groups or couples and just dance with the people in their group for the night. So it’s usually better to have an even number of guys and girls when going out in a small group.

My buddy told me that he really needed someone to dance with his girlfriends sister because they just “had to” take her out that night. That should have been my first warning.

Me being the (foolishly) friendly guy that I am, I said something that I would later regret for the rest of my life…”Sure”.

Who could say "No"?

Who could say “No”?

La Noche de Horror
The night arrived and we went to what’s called a “Cross-over” club just outside the city limits. A “Cross-over” club is one that plays a mix of different latin music sytles like salsa, bachata, merengue, reggaeton, cumbia and vallenato as opposed to “salsotecas” which just play salsa.

We all hung out a bit and chatted and drank at our table for a while until eventually my buddy took his girlfriend out for a dance. Seeing as her sister wasn’t much of conversationalist I figured that now would be as good a time as any to take her out for a dance.

We walked onto the quite crowded dance floor, I put my right hand on her back and with my left hand grabbed her right. I listened to the music, a nice standard salsa that I had danced to may times before and when the timing was right I gave her a gentle push back to start.


My initial thought was “What the fudge?”. I tried again and once more she was having none of it.

She then started her own “basic step”. It took me about 5 seconds to realize that this was not going to be pleasant.

She started doing something with her feet that resembled a combination of merengue and drunken staggering. I would say that she was dancing on the wrong beat but that would imply that she was actually dancing on a certain beat in the music. That was not the case. This girl was marching to her own beat, a style of dance that hasn’t been created yet and if it ever is, will probably end up being called the “Drunken Monkey” or maybe the “Try and guess what I’m gonna do next”.

I tried to mirror what she was doing but there was genuinely no timing to her steps. I started grabbing at straws. I tried to bring her closer and change the steps to more of a circular closed style of dancing common in Cali, similar to close bachata. I figured if we were closer it would be easier for her to feel the rhythm from my body…

She clearly thought she knew what she was doing because she managed to distort the rhythm (and my body) to her own erratic beat once more. Every attempt I made to get us back on the beat was firmly subdued by unsmiling partner. Resistance was futile!

Even my attempts at a few simple turns to break the monotony were met with ridiculous wobbles and my arm nearly getting torn out of my shoulder socket by her vice like grip. She was being very clear: “I’m wearing the pants in this dance…bitch”.

I praised the Lord that the room was so dimly lit.

In the first 45 seconds of the song she had managed to reveal herself as a “Bossy Bertha”, “Lost Boy”, “Poker Face” and “The Claw” all rolled into one. I had met the “Anti-Dancer”!

At that stage I had realized that there was absolutely nothing I could do to stop this and, like many guys in prison shower-rooms, I was just going to have to take it like a man. I mentally shut down and tried to find a happy place in my head; someplace to hide for the remaining eternity (or 3 minutes, I’m not quite sure) of the song.

A “happy place” was not to be found but I did what I could to mentally distance myself from the the unspeakable horror that was being committed against me (and against dance in general). My legs went to automatic, but that’s not easily done when your trying to follow something that spits in the face of coordination.

I tried a couple of times to signal to the other dancers around me that I was in distress. I thought the look of pure despair on my face would convince some good Samaritan to put me out of my misery; maybe by throwing a bar stool at my head… or something equally effective. My pleas for compassion went unanswered.

I will be bringing one of these stickers with me for such emergencies in the future!

I will be bringing one of these stickers with me for such emergencies in the future!

Finally, just when I felt I couldn’t take any more and I might have try and pretend to pass out to get of the dance floor, that ray of light that is the wind-down in the music came to my hears and I screamed for joy internally, yelling to myself “You’ve done it lad. You made it. She can’t hurt you anymore”. The song ended and gave her the most untruthful smile and “gracias” that I have ever produced in my life.

I walked back to the table, frail from my ordeal.

There waiting for us was my buddy and his girlfriend. He pulled his chair next to mine and with a with a huge goofy smile, whispered in my ear “She’s a horrible dancer isn’t she”!

The Fall Guy
I then realized why it was so important that he find a partner for his girlfriend’s sister that night. Why I was so essential. He didn’t want to dance with her himself. I was the “Fall Guy”. Betrayed from the start by my own friend. I felt things couldn’t get any worse… until I remembered that that was our first dance and we still had a full night to go.

What about you guys? Have you had any horrible dance experiences yourselves? Let me know in the comments (seriously, it might make me feel better about how bad my experience was).


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12 Responses to “The Worst Four Minutes of My Life”

  1. gregebersole April 2, 2013 at 10:58 am #

    Jajajaja! Que bien! Great story. I’ve danced with a few women here that, seriously, I had no idea what they were doing or what I should be doing. I tried to lead a reasonable dance, but finally gave up and, lamely, followed whatever they were doing. I’ve been called a good dancer by some women here, and a few others, a bad dancer. So, maybe I shouldn’t judge, but a few times I was praying that the song end very quickly.

    • The Dancing Irishman April 2, 2013 at 11:31 am #

      Praying, that’s exactly what I was doing for the full four minutes of the song. Praying for anything to happen, anything to bring an end to the torture haha!

  2. Sephi972 April 2, 2013 at 11:25 am #

    lool. I had this kind of experience last week too. She was trying leading me. It was like dancing with a man lool

  3. Andy April 3, 2013 at 11:35 am #

    LMFAO…… next time you are stuck in a dance with the incredible hulk, just let go her hands and hips and do your own thing too,I call it ‘the salsa dub step’, remember, its about having fun, nothing professional, the girl most probably knows she can’t dance either and she’s probably tensing up too …… when you sit down after the song is over, pour some more drinks, alcohol will help, wait for the next song and bring her out to the dance floor again….. I will assure you that by the end of the 4th song repeiting this process you will be having fun, after a while give/tell her a few hints how to dance and who knows, you might even teach una calegna how to dance…… hell, I remember when it was me who didn’t know how move to any rhythm known to man…… I think I learnt with pure aguardiente, tabaco y ron!!!!

    • The Dancing Irishman April 3, 2013 at 11:03 pm #

      Haha “the salsa dub-step”, funnily enough I’ve actually started doing that since I came to Cali for just that reason. Break away and do your own thing and you don’t have to worry about what she’s doing for a while… it’s damn effective haha.
      Unfortunately I don’t drink so the ron and aguardiente aren’t gonna help me but I’d imagine they help a lot of people loosen up.

      • Andy April 4, 2013 at 7:30 am #

        Don’t drink…… but, but…. your irish!!!!!! ….. how did this happen? and how are you copping with this in a nation where all parties got a codependency on alcohol in order to be called a party.

      • The Dancing Irishman April 4, 2013 at 8:11 am #

        Yeah, I get that response all the time. Never have.
        I learned to “cope” in university where I was the only guy knocking back glasses of water. If I can handle it in Ireland I can handle it here haha. Occasionally I’ll have to knock back a small shot of aguardiente at the start of the night to satisfy people but once I get that out of the way they leave me do my thing. I spend most of my time dancing anyway so that keeps me away from the table.
        Most people don’t believe me if I say I’m Irish and don’t drink. I guess we all have to deal with stereotypes.

  4. Christy (@awakeningsardis) April 9, 2013 at 7:12 am #

    I have had some similar horrible ones.. off beat, they rip your arm off. One of the worst was a guy from Uganda (I thought all Africans had rhythm?!) who was off beat, arm wrestled me the whole time (and I am a decent follow and can handle a light lead).. actually thought I was going to lose a limb at one point.. and the worst.. he subtly kept sliding past my ass and my chest in a way that was so sneaky I couldn’t tell if it was an accident or I should clock him with a right hook.. by the time I realized it was definitely purposeful.. he was so rough I still couldn’t get out of the dance or right hook him. I felt sick when the dance ended.

    Other times when I have had a bit more sense.. (particularly with creepers) I have actually stopped in the middle of the dance floor… and pulled a “Oh no you didn’t” wavy finger at them and said.. we are DONE. Kinda chuckled to myself at the shock on the guys face that I had the cajones to walk away. I will occasionally break a salsa rule if they are just being plain rude and inappropriate. 🙂

    • The Dancing Irishman April 9, 2013 at 10:18 am #

      Hey Christy
      It often happens that you get someone that doesn’t do one thing badly comes with a kind of package deal of dance faults. And there is nothing worse than walking away from a dance feeling bad. You’re supposed to feel better after a dance.

      And remember, it’s fine to break some salsa rules if someone is acting inappropriately on the dance floor. Call them out on in and make them embarrassed and hopefully it’ll stop them doing it in the future.

  5. Beth January 12, 2017 at 10:57 pm #

    I’ve read a couple of your posts today (am really enjoying them), so the end of this goes a little into my view of the ‘golden rule’

    My worst dance experience was with a hip-hop dancer who claimed to be interested in learning salsa. We had a highly uncomfortable dance, with him bopping around (nothing that resembled any known style) with a firm grip on my wrists, telling me to ‘just go with it’. I tried to be nice, talking up salsa and bachata, encouraging him to take a class. The next time we danced together, he wouldn’t leave me alone afterwards staying really close (within 30cm) when I went to get a drink and chatted to a friend. The following week he got bolder mid dance, pulling me into what he considered ‘body rolls’, which basically involved grabbing me from behind and grinding into me while groaning things like ’feels good’ and ‘mmmmm yeah’ into my ear. I’d had many uncomfortable (and even violating) dances in the past but it was that experience that made me break the ‘golden rule’.

    He hung around for several months, never taking a dance class, just climbing into the space of every young woman present that didn’t tell him to get lost.

    I can’t count the times I was told to ‘always say yes’ as a teenage girl learning to dance. Prior to this, at my rudest I would stop smiling and practice avoidance. I honestly think it’s important to stress (particularly for young dances) that first and foremost dancing should be fun and safe. It seems obvious but considering the intimacy involved in Latin dancing, it can be hard to know where the line is between ‘accident’ and ‘grope’ or between ‘light flirting’ and ‘total sleaze’. I let a lot of things slide that I NEVER would have tolerated in another environment, all in an attempt to be a good partner.

    • The Dancing Irishman January 13, 2017 at 4:17 am #

      Hi beth, the “golden rule” as, i called it is, something to be considered under “normal” circumstances (which themselves aren’t easy to define) and to be honest, as I’ve evolved as a dancer I’ve come to believe we don’t”owe” everyone a dance. What you described there is a perfect example of when it’s a good idea to refuse a dance. No, one s pulls have to put up with a jerk like that and I’m sorry you had to do so for so long.

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