What Happy Salsa Gigolos Know.

12 Jul

The following references are from:
What Happy People Know
by Dan Baker » and Cameron Stauth ».

I was surprised by how quickly this book engaged me, and how little New Age/ wheat-germ-shake content there is to find in this book. It’s also the first time that I’ve read about positive psychology ».

Chapter One: The Dance of Love and Fear, Page 24:
… “Contemporary fear, I’ve found, almost always fits into one of two categories: fear of not having enough and fear of not being enough. Having enough and being enough are the two factors that best ensure survival, so fears about them are rooted to the core of the neurological fear system. They’re as deep as the fear of death, and they are closely related to it.” …

Chapter One: The Dance of Love and Fear, Page 24

Fears of a salsa gigolo:
– not having enough moves
– not having enough turn-patterns
– not being musical enough
– not being authentic enough
– not being spicy enough

These fears enter when a salsa gigolo senses that the salsera he’s dancing with is at a higher trophic level » than he is. “She’s better than me, so she must not be enjoying this dance.” More precisely, these fears enter when a salsa gigolo thinks that a salsera thinks that she’s at a higher trophic level than he is, and that he is therefore not worthy. She might not actually be thinking this, but so long as he thinks she is, he will fear. Salsera attributions ». Woe be to the salsa gigolo who is made to realize his fears by a salsera who abandons him mid-song.

The classic response to fear is to fight, take flight, or to freeze. To ‘fight’, is to grin and bear it, this feeling of inferiority. Beginner’s hell will soon be over, and then it’s all happy, right? To ‘take flight’, is to avoid salsa dancing altogether, or to avoid higher-trophic-level salseras. I have to admit that I enjoy being a bottomfeeder ». Trophic level 2.0 salseras are my favourite, because they are so easy and fun to please. To ‘freeze’, is to be on the dancefloor and forget all one’s moves and turn patterns, but in a bad way. Stuck in the basic, again.

Salsa is often compared to sex or making love, so it’s not surprising for a salsa gigolo to experience performance anxiety. The Wiki on performance anxiety » lists five main causes:

“1) I perceive or imagine the presence of significant others who are able to judge me.
2) I consider the possibility of my visible failure at a task.
3) I feel a need to do well to avoid failure.
4) I feel uncertain as to whether I will do well.
5) I focus on my own behavior and appearance.”

This book, however, offers up an antidote to fear:

Chapter Four: The Antidote to Fear, Page 81:
… “Appreciation is the highest, purest form of love. It is the type of love that can blossom even when it is not returned. It is the outward-bound, self-renewing form of love that has no dependence upon romantic attachment or family ties. People who truly appreciate feel the same about the object of their appreciation whether it is present or absent. They appreciate it even if it is, by objective standards, not worthy of their appreciation. Appreciation asks for nothing, and gives everything.” …

…”It is a fact of neurology that the brain cannot be in a state of appreciation and a state of fear at the same time. The two states may alternate, but are mutually exclusive.” …

Chapter Four: The Antidote to Fear, Page 81

What this book explains, is that we cannot feel fear and appreciation at the same time. I’m taking my time in trying to digest this insight, before accepting it fully, but on initial reflection, there may be something to this. Not feeling fear can go a long way in making a salsa gigolo feel happy. If appreciation is the panacea that will conquer a salsa gigolo’s fears, I want to be sure not to throw this baby out.

So to avoid feeling fear, I should try to feel appreciation. Instead of fearing the trophic level 4.0 salsera, I should appreciate her beauty, her movement, her sensuality, the essence of her salseraness. If the fear is still too overwhelming, I should try to feel appreciation for something else, anything else, to avoid feeling fear. Appreciate the weather, how nice a day it is, appreciate the dancefloor, how spacious it is, appreciate the music, how good it is. If I fear the cleavage, I should appreciate the claveage ». One thing I’ve noted is that feeling appreciation may not block feeling sadness. However, another thing I’ve noted is that dancing salsa with a trophic level 2.0 salsera makes the sadness go away.

I remember my first time going to a salsa club and being awestruck by a salsa gigolo spinning a salsera a million times. It looked so awesome that I spontaneously applauded them at the end of the song. At the time, I didn’t fear their skill — I was too busy appreciating their performance. These days, when I watch people dance, I appreciate the differences of each dancer. Some have neat moves. Some are real smooth. Some have great rhythm. Some have playful abandon. Some are courageous beginners, just like I used to be. I often wonder what these dancers will look like 2 years, 5 years from now.

Chapter Six: Power Over Feelings, Power Over Fate, Page 154:
… “People don’t often discuss values these days. In our homogeneous, media-dominated culture, there’s a blithe general assumption that almost all of us share the same basic values — or should. But that’s absurd. We’re vastly different from each other, and when we fail to act on these differences in our own lives, or fail to honor them in the lives of others, we assault the source of all personal power.” …

Chapter Six: Power Over Feelings, Power Over Fate, Page 154

I’ve only briefly mentioned salsa values ». Whenever a salsa gigolo asks himself, “How do I want to dance salsa?”, he is getting in touch with his salsa values. We don’t all have the same salsa values, so we don’t all dance the same. I think one of the things I appreciate most is how different salsa gigolos come to terms with what they appreciate most about salsa, and then just dance it. Out there, on the dancefloor.
Salsa Gigolometer 80


3 Responses to “What Happy Salsa Gigolos Know.”

  1. adenadrian August 14, 2009 at 1:18 am #

    Salsa dance is fun and energetic. It makes you relax as a break from your busy schedule and gives relaxation for your mind.


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