The Dancing Irishman’s First Birthday

5 Jun
The Dancing Irishman turns one today. All presents graciously accepted!

The Dancing Irishman turns one today.
All presents graciously accepted!

This day, one year ago I sent out a mass email to the majority of my facebook contacts asking them to check out my new blog, proudly titled “The Dancing Irishman”.

Since that day it has developed, haphazardly, into one of the most enjoyable endeavors I have ever undertaken.

At lot has changed in the past year; my goals, my dancing style, the focus of the blog and of course myself. The one thing that hasn’t changed is the excitement I feel every time I click “publish” on my latest post.

To celebrate the Dancing Irishman’s first birthday I’d like to share with you some of my thoughts on how the blog has evolved over the past 12 months. Despite having gained a lot of experience writing my articles I still sometimes find it hard to string my ideas together fluently so I decided to write this article using headings based on some of the questions I’m frequently asked by people I meet through the blog here in Cali or online, and some of the questions I’ve frequently been asking myself.

Where did the title come from?
Funnily enough I didn’t come up with it at all (I’m clearly not that creative). I’m Irish and I dance… in Colombia. I was ( and still am) a regular at some of the most popular salsa clubs here in Cali and I have a lot of friends in the international/traveler community here. I became known as the foreign guy who can dance (I am by no means the only dancing foreigner here but I think I just stuck out… it’s probably the beard… and the super paleness) and on more than a couple of occasions newcomers to Cali came up to me in clubs or blurted out during conversations with me “So YOU’RE The Dancing Irishman that I’ve heard about”!

A big thank you to all those unknowing passersby who helped name my alter-ego!

Is the actual writing process fun?
More than I can express in words. The truth is, if I don’t enjoy writing an article it never gets finished. I tend to find a topic that I’m particularly passionate about and end up getting sucked into it.

I write a lot on my phone while I’m using public transport or when I’m relaxing in a cafe. I know I’ve got something good when I can’t stop typing and I often ended up writing as late as 2 or 3 in the morning! When I have particularly strong feelings about a topic, that’s when everything really starts to flow and it feels almost cathartic to get things out of my head and onto paper.

I think one of the reasons I’ve loved writing the blog so much is that it’s encouraged me to genuinely put a lot of thought into what I do be it dance, exercise, languages or nutrition. I makes me study more and helps me verbalize why I love what I do so much.

Writing is pretty much the only creative thing I do and I never imagined how much pleasure I could get by putting my thoughts onto paper (or online at least). If you’ve never given writing a serious try before I highly recommend trying out blogging. Even if you have no intentions of developing a following it’s a great format to use as an outlet for that creative spark you have inside.

Has anything changed due to the blog?
Loads.

The first thing is that I now feel (almost) obligated to stay on top of my game dance-wise. Since I’ve chosen a name as assuming as The Dancing Irishman, I better make damn well sure that I can actually dance. It keeps me on my toes.

Something that I didn’t expect is that people sometimes come up to me in clubs telling me that they’ve read the blog. Often they’re travelers who were looking up information on dancing in Cali and I’ve gotten a lot of great feedback from them. I have to admit it actually feels pretty cool when people recognize me and say “Hey, you’re the Dancing Irishman”. Once again, the beard helps haha!

I also didn’t expect the blog to turn into a way to make friends but that’s exactly what happened. I’ve met some great people who are also bloggers and it’s been great interacting and learning from them and I’ve also met some great people through their comments on some of my articles.

As I write a lot about, Cali and life in Colombia I’ve also developed a lot of pride for my adopted city and I’m very proud to call myself Caleño.

Favourite articles?
I’ve published about 35 articles so far so it’s tough to pick a favorite so I’ll pic three instead.

I really enjoyed writing “How to be Great at Anything (Obliterating racial stereotypes in 10,000 hours)” because I really wanted to put an end to the idea that being able to dance was something you inherit in your blood. I think i made a pretty good point that it’s actually inherited through culture and therefore most people can learn to dance well regardless of their ethnic background.

I had a blast writing “The Etiquette of Salsa (All the stuff you need to worry about besides the dancing)” because it struck me as really important that newbies in the salsa world have a easy list of certain social rules to follow so they wouldn’t have to learn them the hard way i.e. trial and error. I also got pretty fired up writing that piece thinking about times when people have broken the rules e.g. when someone crowded up the dance-floor when it was already full and stole what little space I had (my blood boils just thinking about it now).

Finally I feel especially proud of writing “21 Things I F##KING HATE about Colombia!” which to date is the most popular article I’ve ever written (an exceptionally close second is “What I love about Cali, Colombia” ). I’m proud of it because I got to make some real social commentaries about life here in Colombia and the feedback I received was amazing. I knew that what I had to say wasn’t pleasant so I was expecting quite a backlash of angry comments from Colombians but the overwhelming majority of comments I received were positive and in agreement with what I had to say. One of the most aggressive, negative commentators actually contacted me a month later to tell me he had time to think about it and that he actually agreed with many of my points. He’s now a regular, positive commentator on the blog and I’m very proud to have him on board.

That article also reaffirmed one thing that I already knew; Colombians are very protective of their traditional cuisine (you won’t get far in an argument saying you don’t like it ;-)).

My Dance Goals
If anything, learning more about dance over the past year has shown me just how little I know and how far I still have to go to get better… and that feels amazing.

I’ve seen some spectacular dancers both in person and in videos who simply inspire me to get better and keep practicing. It’s some of the best motivation there is.

I’ve also come to terms that while I’ve not really taken to salsa caleña (the advanced moves are confined to choreographies and shows) I feel that my time here has really helped me feel comfortable when I dance and more willing to let myself go and actually move my body. As much as I loathe to say it, I definitely “feel the music” much more now.

I have some other, more definite goals lined up for the future which I should be revealing in the coming months, so stay tuned.

On Teaching
One unexpected side-effect of the blog is that a lot of people started contacting me for salsa lessons and that has now become a regular part of my life here in Cali. So much so that recently I created a page on the blog specifically dedicated to my lessons; “Learn Salsa in Cali”.

Teaching salsa has been an amazing experience for me as I simply enjoy teaching something I love so much. Especially, as I work mostly with beginners, I really get o see the “fruits of my labors” when I see my students who only a few hours earlier didn’t know the first thing about salsa, having a blast dancing in the clubs here in Cali. If they go on and develop a passion for salsa in the future, then I’m really happy.

I’ve been able to refine the way I teach and I feel I’ve really simplified teaching salsa caleña in a way that it generally isn’t taught here in many dance schools in Cali. That’s mostly thanks to the fact I’ve had some great teachers myself over the years and I’ve managed to hold on to and use the best methods that I found most effective when I was learning. So, thank you to all the teachers I’ve had over the years!

What I’ve learned about Blogging
You’ve got to give the people what they want.

Some of my most constantly viewed articles are those with the most practical information like “The Etiquette of Salsa (All the stuff you need to worry about besides the dancing)” and “How to find that goddamn “1″ beat in salsa” which deal with things that salsa learners really want to learn about. I’m going to try and focus more on developing more practical material for salsa learners in the future.

Also some of you may have noticed that while I say today is the blog’s birthday (June 5th), I have 5 or so articles published from May. This is because I wanted to have a number of articles ready for people to read when I finally launched the blog in June. I think it was a good move.

I’ve found that facebook has been my greatest promotional tool but within facebook, people actively linking to my articles has spread my blog much further than I actually expected. That was seen best in “21 Things I F##KING HATE about Colombia!“. That was probably the most strategic post I’ve published so far. I say strategic in that I worded the title specifically to get the most attention (use of expletives and a controversial topic) and it worked (even better than I expected). That got more hits in it’s first day than anything else I’ve published before or since and that was mostly due to “word of mouth” on facebook. Keep it up guys!

I’ve also learned that a good photo goes a long way towards catching peoples attention too, as seen with “The Women of Cali (Las caleñas son como las flores)” or “How to be stronger than you’ve ever been in your life!“. So just in case you’ve been wondering why I use so many images of scantily clad beauties, now you know that it’s for purely promotional purposes (teehee!).

The power of a fine bottom for promotional purposes should never be underestimated!

The power of a fine bottom for promotional purposes should never be underestimated!

Thank You!
Of everything that’s happened due to the blog, my proudest achievement by far is getting such a dedicated online following. You are the people who read my blog regularly and graciously promote my articles by liking and sharing them.

Without you, the blog would never have made it past it’s first month so I want you to know how grateful I am for your support.

I have plenty of changes planned for the blog in the coming months which I really hope you’ll enjoy. I am really looking forward to seeing where I can take this blog (World Domination anyone???) with your help in the future so keep on reading.

Thanks and keep dancing folks.

**********************************************************************

Have you been working-out lately? Because you look spectacular 🙂 If you liked this article go ahead and share it with your friends via the Facebook or Twitter buttons below and if you use Stumbleupon please give it a “Thumbs Up”. I’d really appreciate it 😉

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13 Responses to “The Dancing Irishman’s First Birthday”

  1. Micheal power June 5, 2013 at 12:27 pm #

    Gr8 stuff! Photos mostly 🙂

  2. Joshua June 5, 2013 at 1:26 pm #

    Hey man. Congratulations. I am actually not a blog reader but I do check yours out. Hey man, you need to write a blog entry about your teaching experience!!! Let the people know what you liked, loved, and hated about it. Give the people what they want!

    • The Dancing Irishman June 5, 2013 at 2:45 pm #

      Hey Joshua, thanks. Teaching salsa or teaching in high school?

      • Joshua June 7, 2013 at 9:31 am #

        Teaching at the high school. After I think based on what you have mentioned about it and your other blog entries I think you write a nice, thoughtful, yet someone controversial piece about the “future” of Colombia.

      • The Dancing Irishman June 7, 2013 at 9:49 am #

        I might give it a shot although thinking about teaching in high school really starts to make my blood boil a little. The emotion might be good for the article haha

  3. Alvaro June 9, 2013 at 9:18 pm #

    Well, this is unusual, a foreigner teaching salsa in the city where everyone is believed to know how to dance it. Do you frequent Café de Lenguas on mondays? I’ve never been, but I do like crossing words with people from other countries.

    • The Dancing Irishman June 11, 2013 at 8:59 am #

      Hi Alvaro,
      Yeah I get a lot of strange looks when I tell people what I do especially when I tell them that I originally learned to dance i Japan.
      Yes, sometimes I go to the cafe de lenguas on Mondays. I might see you there some night. Do come and say hello.

  4. Chilly June 14, 2013 at 6:14 am #

    We should call you the INTERNATIONAL dancing Irish man. Well done on reaching your one year anniversary of Blogging Bro. I know its not easy, but somehow the time also goes so quickly.
    Just know Its been a pleasure getting to know you and reading your work & I look forward to us doing a blog collaboration together real soon.
    Keep dancing, Keep travelling & most importantly Keep writing!

    • The Dancing Irishman June 14, 2013 at 9:07 am #

      It’s been a real pleasure getting to know you too man. You’re gonna love the upcoming surprises I’ve got planned too.

  5. David Garcia June 17, 2013 at 11:18 am #

    great stuff man, love all your articles so far. Well, exepct the one in which you….. just kidding, love them all, keep them coming.

    • The Dancing Irishman June 18, 2013 at 12:44 am #

      Glad to hear you like the blog. And to be honest with you, I’m not a big fan of that article myself either hahaha!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. The First Day of the Best Year of Your Life (So Far) | The Dancing Irishman - July 1, 2013

    […] is my birthday. Not the birthday of the blog (that was last month) but the actual anniversary of my day of […]

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