In those days, I had a female friend (non-romantic) who ended up talking about possibly taking dance lessons, and I ended up saying, "Hey, let's do that." I kind of needed someone I trusted along for something so trepidatious. We started in April 2007, almost 8 years ago. The aborted social was in August of that year.
Why salsa? Initially, mostly practical reasons. When we showed up at the studio and saw the class schedule, it was chock full of salsa and country dancing (both of which make sense as this is in Texas), and only a little bit of ballroom and swing. Some of the dance communities around here are really small but with very avid followers, such as Blues dancing and Argentine Tango (both of which are remarkably similar to each other on a deep level). I can't stand country music, so therefore it was salsa dancing. (Seriously, I've danced two-step to "Tequila Makes Her Clothes Come Off". Talk about inappropriate, I really hate dancing to music like that. It's embarrassing!)
I did end up trying all varieties of dancing that the studio offered of all genres, some 20 or more different kinds of dances. Salsa ended up being the one that really took my interest, and when I decided to really focus on that, I started learning that also taking the other dance classes mostly got in the way of my salsa training. There was in fact a very particular dance that I also liked where it had moves that felt just like salsa, but the beat was just "one-off". That dance really messed up my salsa dancing, as I'd bring salsa into it and it into salsa, kind of like a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup gone wrong.
I ended up actively choosing salsa because
- It isn't bouncy. (I HATE bouncy dances, they take a lot of energy and the bouncing slows things down.)
- It's a fast dance, which makes it easy to dance with strangers in a fun and friendly way.
- There is an almost endless variety of styles and moves, as everyone who learns it makes it their own.
- There's always a "next level" of skill to aspire to.
- And, yes, there's a large community of salsa dancers to dance with.
Interestingly, as much as it is regarded as a "Latin" dance, it's more of an American dance from the interaction of many styles and cultures that only happened in the US: Cuban, Puerto Rican, Swing, Ballroom, Jazz, Latin Jazz. In other words, it's kind of like pizza, which is an Italian-style dish that originated in the US.
Now, I've been dancing for almost 8 years, I've done half a dozen or so public performances, both solo (with partner) and with a team, spent thousands of hours training and practicing, and spent a TON of money on lessons. (I justify it as being far more effective than a gym membership.) I'm going to keep on doing this until I physically cannot, and that moment doesn't appear to be coming any time soon.