One of my reasons for loving salsa is that it gets me to socialise and meet a lot of nice people. I am not one for socialising or going out to meet strangers. But going out to learn salsa has the great side effect of meeting a lot of lovely people. In this post I want to quickly list out why I think Salsa people are nice people as opposed to say going out to normal nightclubs.
- Salsa people are social Why else would they be out dancing and chatting with other people? Even the introvert people (like me) enjoy meeting other people and having nice conversations. Even in the short time that I have been learning salsa I have a lot of salsa friends, not because I am such a great guy but because they are such friendly people. They reach out to a stranger, reassure a nervous beginner and are friendly as a rule.
- They are open to new experiences They come to the salsa class because they are open to doing something they haven't done before.
- They are about self-improvement. Learning a new skill like dancing Salsa I would count as self-improvement. It takes a lot of practice and perseverance to learn salsa so essentially salsa people are the kind of people who are willing to dedicate their time and effort (and money) to learn a new skill. I am not counting those who give up after a few classes but I am counting those who realize they have got the bug and come back to Salsa to try harder (I am one of them.)
- They are capable of laughing at themselves. Even in the beginning of the learning process you find out that learning to dance Salsa means making a lot of mistakes while you learn. And all the successful Salsa dancers learn to laugh at their mistakes and keep trying. (Those who don't learn this cannot be successful in salsa. It's just that kind of dance.) [Caveat: I have heard about these "LA" style dancers who take things very seriously and are irritated by mistakes. I haven't met any of these myself so I will stick to my point.]
- They are not heavy drinkers. At least not when they dance. Although it's not a teetotallerian environment, alcohol doesn't flow as freely around a Salsa dance floor as in a normal club. Some people abstain as they find it counter-productive for their learning in the class while others (like me) get high on the dance itself. Whatever the reason, I haven't seen any drunken behaviour or bar-fights in a salsa event yet.
- They come from varying ages and backgrounds And variety being the spice of life it makes it things very interesting. Doing salsa I have met people from 20 and younger all the way up to 60 and above. And I have loved chatting with all of them.
- They are usually modest During the early period of learning salsa we come to realize that it's not a quick and easy skill to acquire. On the way to learning this skill we go through a period when we are not any good and we watch more experienced dancers burning up the dance floor. I think that makes us humble. That's not to say that there is no vanity on the salsa dance floor but that's not the norm. Most salseros are modest, friendly people who salsa because they love to dance not because they want to show off.
- They are good dressers. This is a given considering that half of the salsa people are ladies, but even salseros make an effort to dress well for the occasion. The result is that in any salsa social you spend an evening with a bunch of well-dressed, friendly, fun people. What could be better? So there you have it in a nutshell why I think Salsa people are some of the best people you could meet socially. I would love to hear what you think...
Instead of continuing with the story of how I started to learn Salsa I want to talk about something I think is more important.
PYP - Protect Your Partner
I have seen it mentioned in many forum posts, blogs and advice articles but where it made most impact was in Don Baarns's book (www.unlikelysalsero.com). He says that this has to be your top priority. If you remember only one thing on the dance floor it should be this.
After having had some dance floor experience, I agree. Wholeheartedly.
If you think about it, it makes perfect sense. If a lady gets a foot perforated by another woman's stilettoe heel while dancing with me, she's very unlikely to class that as a good dance no matter how many fancy moves I did or how well I executed them!
Why is it our job? Because we are the leads. It is in my control to initiate and lead a move. The lady does what I lead her to do. And with great power comes great responsibility. If you are in-charge of her movements then you are responsible for her well-being on the dance floor.
Although, if she pushes her arm to style and pokes someone in the eye, that I would leave as her responsibility. Fair is fair.
Here are a few Do's and Don'ts based on what I have read and what I have seen and experienced on the dance floor so far. My Salsa experience is quite limited and these lists are given here more as my own checklists than advice to the world in general. Additionally, I don't take credit for all these items, they are my compiled list from many sources including Don Baarns' book, peppered with my own thoughts.
Do's - Your partner can't look behind her. You must look behind her and act if there's a threat. - Leave any move in the middle and pull your partner away from the threat if need be. - Change a move, stop a move, shorten a move, leave a move, stop dancing, do whatever is needed to keep her safe. - Do tighter cross-body leads if it's crowded. - Take very small steps if there's no room. - Do the simplest moves you can if the room is limited. - Look to see there is space to send your partner there before you start a move. - Look where you are sending your partner just BEFORE you send her there. Things change fast on a dance floor, that place may not be free now. - If you can take the hit to save your partner from a bump, be a man and do it. - Smile and have fun even when you are navigating the space around you like rocky waters. - Use a Freeze not just as a musicality move but also to avoid bumping into another couple. - Watch not just for your own moves but also when another lead maybe flinging his partner towards your partner. - Think "Shields up" from the moment you lead your partner to the floor until you lead her back. - Have a margin of safety around you and your partner or don't do a move. - Use the same precautions when practicing partnerwork in a class as on the dance floor. - Her styling is her responsibility everything else is yours. - Be light on your feet. If a move fails and you happen to step on her foot, you have a better chance of stopping before your heel comes down on her toes. - Watch out for drunks on or near the dance floor. Salsa folks usually don't drink when they are dancing but other people do. A splash of beer on a favourite dress can be as traumatic to a lady as a kick on the shin. - If despite all your precautions, something does happen make sure the lady is okay and wants to continue the dance. Just because you can't see any visible damage doesn't mean she is completely ok.
Don'ts - Don't lead complex moves if the space is too crowded. - Don't expect your partner to know what's behind her. - Don't follow on with moves (of a sequence) if you or your partner are about to bump into another couple. - Don't take big steps if the floor is crowded. - Don't think of your partner as you think of your car bumper. - Don't think that your partner is more advanced so she can fend for herself on the dance floor. You are still her protection. - Don't even think of dips and tricks on a dance floor that's packed. - Don't EVER say "Oh, well!" if your partner does happen to get bumped or stepped on. Make sure she's ok.
So far, I have not been as aggressive about protecting my partners as these lists suggest but I would like to be and hopefully these lists will help me get there. I haven't had anything more traumatic than someone stepping on my dance partner's foot or her stepping on someone else's but it still makes me feel bad. Even when the lady doesn't assign the blame to me I feel responsible. Because I am.
My Own Experience I have only had a few socials and social nights but each one has been great for learning stuff and I don't mean just moves. In the beginning I used to take a certain amount of bumps and step-on's as part of the day when dancing in a crowded club. My eyes opened after reading those articles and Don Baarns' book. Now, I take it very seriously. The worst I have had was another lead falling on me while I was dancing and I remember thinking, "Thank God, he fell on me and not on my partner!" :) No damage though, I have fast reflexes and was able to get out from under without letting him bring me and my partner down. He went down though.
Why now? There is no way I can say this next bit without sounding "holier-than-thou" so I am just going to say it. Another reason for posting this before my other planned posts is not just to remind me of this but also because even in my limited Salsa experience I have seen many leads ignore the PYP rule. I don't know why but people seem to think that a few collisions and step-on's are all part of the day in dancing. Not newbies like me but even experienced leadds. I have especially noticed this in classes. If the space is crowded and during the practice sessions your partner steps on someone's foot or someone steps on her foot, it just doesn't register with the lead as anything noteworthy. That's a big reason I am writing this post. This should really be Rule 1 in our Salsa etiquette book. The only exception is teachers. I have never seen a girl dancing with a teacher bump into others or vice versa. I guess good teachers develop this skill as part of their salsa skills.
What I am going to do about it? I would like to develop the PYP skill myself. In fact, now that I am able to do a handful of moves I can get on the dance floor. Which makes me equivalent to the driver who has just got his driving licence and is getting on the motorway to driving among more experienced drivers. They may have held the licence much longer than the newbie but that doesn't mean they follow the same safety rules. Remember the big 18-wheeler flashing his highlights in your rear-view mirror driving at 60 in a roadworks lane on a rainy night? The safety of my passengers and myself is in my hands.
My Priorities Now that I can "dance", I have pushed learning new moves as priority 4. It goes like this. 1. Protect my partner 2. Have fun in each and every dance 3. Polish the current moves (own footwork, lead, timing etc.) 4. Learn new cool moves ...
The post ran on longer than I had planned but some of that stuff needed to be said and some of it I had to get off my chest. Thank you for reading this far. I hope I get some good tips on this topic from the more experienced leads and follows. That would help me develop the PYP skill myself. Please use the comments form below. Thanks.
So I finally decided to write about Salsa. Let's start with why I didn't want to write about it at first and why I decided to write now.
- Because when I started to learn Salsa I didn't think I had much to say.
- Then it took over all my spare time so I didn't have any time to write about it.
- Then I found that I had way too much to say about it and didn't have that much time.
- I didn't think I was qualified to write about Salsa, especially things that would sound like advice or teaching.
- I just gotta!
- There is so much to say about it that I can't keep it in and can't say it all to all my friends for fear of boring them.
- I am really passionate about Salsa.
- All the advice and teaching stuff is just my experience and opinions based on my learning journey. If I can make that clear to my audience and not pretend to know more than do I will be fine.
- I have a lot to share and who knows some of it might even be useful to somebody somewhere.
There's way more to say than can be done in one post so this will be an ongoing series on my blog.
I would absolutely love to hear from my readers about what I write. Any comments, criticisms and above all their own experiences on this topic would be very welcome.
I am hoping that salsa people will comment and share their thoughts.
In this current post I will only give the background of Salsa in my life.
So we start...
I first started learning Salsa about 5-6 years ago. Why did I start? There's a story.
Once in a while I used to go to clubs with friends. Like normal nightclubs. And even though I could not dance to save my life, I still used to get on the dance floor and "dance". No, alcohol was not involved, I just get more courageous when I am with friends and the music is good.
Every time I went to a club, there would be one brief period, like maybe a few minutes when I would be a dancing and I would be totally in the zone. At that moment I connected so well to the music that I disconnected from my surroundings. Even at that moment, I wasn't doing any amazing "take back the streets" steps, in fact I don't even know what steps I did, if any. But that few minutes period was worth the whole effort of going out...call it Nirvana, meditation, happiness, what you will.
After a while I started thinking about how I could extend that period to more than a few minutes and achieve it more frequently. I don't really like going to clubs, so when I started looking for dance lessons I didn't look for that kind of dance. Salsa was very popular at that time in the UK and a friend of mine told me about this place on Charing Cross Rd. where you can have an intense one-day class in Salsa. Kind of like a crash course. A good place to start.
One Google search told me what there was to know about Salsa Rapido at Bar Salsa in London. I took the first 5-hour long beginners class and loved it! After paying for the class once, it was free to repeat during the next two months and I did it a few times.
Then I found a 10-week Salsa course with City Academy with a weekly class. After the intense-information-overload type class with Salsa Rapido the one-hour a week class that taught one or two moves every week seemed too slow even though the teacher was really great. I did meet several good people in that group though and it was then that I created a Meetup group called "City Academy Salsa" to connect with my classmates and other people who wanted to go out and practice together. The group still exists even though I dropped out of the course after 6 weeks. I made it open to join by anyone so it has more than 150 members today.
But, my Salsa journey did not continue that smoothly. After dropping out of City Academy I dropped out of Salsa. Honestly, I don't remember what changed. But I work as an IT contractor and move around a lot. So something like that happened and my Salsa stopped. I never forgot it though and wanted to get back to it. Recently when I moved again and it seemed like I would stay in one place for at least 6 months this time, the first social thing I sought out was Salsa.
Fortunately there was a local class every Wednesday and it was close enough for me to walk to it. So my Salsa journey started again, and this time for realsies.
I also want to do a longer post on the two episodes of Comedy Nights with Kapil where the legendary Amitabh Bachchan graced the stage but I am afraid it would be a really really long fan rave as I am a big fan of both Amit Ji and Kapil Sharma. But I will try to write it anyway, since it's something I want to do.
I used to think the Amazon was a sensible service which was all about the customers. And then they go ahead and combine their video streaming service with their Prime membership. So when my Prime membership is renewed in a couple of months I'd be paying £30 more per year for a video streaming service that I don't need and don't want. I can cancel my Prime membership but I can't opt-out of the video streaming service. How great is that?
Well, being the vindictive person I am, I will not only cancel my Prime Membership I will start looking at other web-based shopping services for the things that I used to buy at Amazon. I am sure there would be other people who would be looking elsewhere. And while this is true that Amazon would not be crying at the loss of my business, as we all know "every little helps."
Way to the lose the trust of your loyal customers Amazon!
So, I went to my Prime Membership page and clicked "End Membership". There is an option to end it when it comes to renewal. I chose that. Mine was due in renewal in about 2 months. I could have waited until then to cancel but this way I make sure they can see this as a result of their stupid, fascist decision. If enough people thumb their noses at Amazon this way, there's a chance, albeit a very slim chance, that the Amazon management may regain their senses.
Now since I won't have the Prime benefit of free one-day delivery, I will have no special reason to buy everything from Amazon. I am pretty sure there will be a lot of other customers who will have the same kind of behaviour change following Amazon's one-sided decision to force their video streaming down their customers' throat.
And later in history books when the question is put to the students what brought about the super-successful online shopping giant Amazon.com they will be able to point to this date and this decision.
Since I just spent an hour watching the Samsung Unpacked event streamed live from Barcelona, I might as well tell my readers what I learnt.
Galaxy S5 - Fingerprint scanner, 5.1" super AMOLED Full HD screen, yes, I was disappointed as I was hoping for a 2K screen, but there are some innovative improvements in display technology that will make this a unique display. The design is a bit disappointing after watching all those "concept" videos. It's a simple S4-like shape and design, with a perforated back (so I am assuming a metal body not plastic). It has a heart rate sensor.
The fingerprint scanner can be used for making paypal payments. Would be good if I didn't already hate paypal.
Although it's not waterproof it is water and dust resistant, the rating is IP67. I doubt that it would let me sing along in the shower as the Samsung VP J.D. Ayme was urging everybody to do, but at least it would be safe to take the phone out in the rain. I live in London, this is a big deal for me.
The camera is a 16 MP camera with many improvements. This one did impress me. The sensor is bigger, the autofocus is faster, there is even selective focus to emulate DSLR-like shallow DOF. It looked very good on screen. There is HDR for both stills and video. 0.3 seconds response time.
They didn't talk about the processor or RAM, that seems to be tomorrow's agenda on their event. The battery is 2800mAh, that was a big disappointment. There is a Ultra Power Saving mode that turns off everything except essential functions and even turns the screen to black and white. Samsung claims that in this mode the phone can last for 24 hours on standby on 10% battery left. Well, I would have preferred a 3200mAh battery.
Na kar ae baagh-baaN shikwaa guloN ki beniyaazi ka,
HaseeN jo log hote haiN zara magaroor hote haiN.
Hamein khabar hai mohabbat ke sab thikaano ki,
Shareek-e-jurm na hote to mukhbari karte.
Ye meri jaan gayi hai jo iss mohabbat meiN,
Ye tera sadqa diya hai, nazar utaari hai.
Ye mohabbat ki kahaani nahin marti lekin,
Log qirdaar nibhabte hue mar jaate haiN.
Yaqeen aata nahin to mujhko yaa maahtaab ko dekho,
Ki raat uski bhi kat jaati hai jiska ghar nahin hota.
=== Ye bhi achchha hua shaayad ki unhein paa na sake, Hamaara ho ke bichhadta to qayamat hoti.
Ret ke zarroN se uthe, kehkashaaN tak aa gaye,
Dekh teri justjoo mein hum kahaaN tak aa gaye.
Yoon lag raha tha main koi sehra ka ped hoon,
Uss shaam tu agar meri haalat ko dekhtaa
So, I am watching Yet Another Sherlock Holmes Show - Sherlock. There have been so many films and TV shows about Sherlock Holmes that I have to call it YASHS. But honestly, Sherlock is an undying detective, there's always the potential to make another series or another movie about him if you know how to make it well.
This one is well made. I am going to get my complaints out of the way first. I don't like their casting. It's not horrible, but it's not great. In order to be fair I am going to mention that if I had watched this show before I watched both the Sherlock Holmes movies made by Warner Brothers, I might not have complained about this casting.
If you have seen those movies you know that nobody can surpass Robert Downy Junior as Sherlock Holmes. He brings Sherlock to life. Imagine, one actor who can do justice to both Sherlock Holmes AND Iron Man! Amazing beyond words!
Also Jude Law in those movies is a fantastic choice as Dr. Watson. I don't know if many people get this but the story of Sherlock Holmes is not the story of Sherlock Holmes. It's the story of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. There wouldn't be a story without Watson because Dr. Watson was the historian (in the stories) who wrote up Sherlock's adventures as books.
If we kind of ignore that RDJ and Jude Law set the bar so high for those characters then Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman are quite good in their portrayal of Holmes and Watson, respectively. One casting choice that I am really pleased with is the actress for Mrs. Hudson. Her name is Una Stubbs. She is just lovely! She is making me love the character much more than I did before.
Here I should talk about my background also as a SH fan. I read the original stories by Arthur Conan Doyle when I was in my early teens. And I loved them from the beginning. I have read most of the stories if not all. At first I was very impressed by Sherlock's detection methods, how he gleans a lot of information from seemingly insignificant pieces of data. I even bought a magnifying glass.
But then, I started to doubt his methods, I mean every piece of data can be interpreted in a variety of ways. That made me less impressed with SH. Then many years later I realized...how did I learn to doubt Sherlock Holmes? It's because I read those stories and learned to think! So Sherlock Holmes stories (and a few other books) did teach me how to think intelligently.
Since then I have read some of the books again, most recently getting them on Kindle etc. And a couple of years ago when I was living in Cambridge and a colleague said to me, "Let's go watch the Sherlock Holmes 2" movie, I was like "There's a Sherlock Holmes movie? And it's part 2? Where's the part one?"
I loved it and then acquired part one to watch. I wish I had watched them in order but nothing I can do about that now. I have since then watched them in order more than once. Still love them!
So, coming back to the new show - Sherlock. I do like it very much. The thing I like most, or you could say - love, is the premise. I am digging the Sherlock Holmes living in modern times. The 21st Century Sherlock texts people, travels by tube and London minicabs, he used laptops and his friend Watson has a blog about their adventures. It's a great feeling to see them in action in the same world that I live in. I don't mean about them and myself all living in London, I just mean in modern times. Though I do like that I can recognize the places from the show as 'local'.
The stories, though some of them have the same title as the original "Doyle" stories are mostly new plots. The show is well-written. If I am not impressed by the casting, I am super-impressed by the writing.
Sherlock Holmes stories are not just about the detection of crime, they are about the world that he lives in and interacts with. The new writers have kept that fact in mind as they write and they are doing a bang-up job of it.
I have just finished watching the 2nd episode of the 3rd season and was very much impressed by the way they weaved the story together with Watson's wedding.
Filming is also good and editing is simply top-notch. Dialogues are good, I like that Watson gets a lot of screen time as well and works as the Human part of their team. Even though I didn't like the girl they have got for Mary I like the writing for her and how they have portrayed the character. Her performance is not bad.
In conclusion, not all the adaptations of Sherlock Holmes are worth watching but this one is. It's quite entertaining as well as educational.
Even though I don't say it very often because I don't like to offend people (hehe, just kidding, you know me by now!) but I am very much against organized religion. Some time in the future I will talk about what's wrong with it and why it makes my stomach turn but that'd be a long post and being a self-proclaimed lazyass I keep putting it off.
But right now in this (hopefully) short blog post I want to say that I see the need for an religious to atheist dictionary which would help people like me in times of stress. Look at some of the expressions we use in a normal day.
Oh my God! (Or my version "Oh my fucking god!")
When the occasion calls for an exclamation the best I can do to protest the religious nature of this expression is to not capitalize the "god". When speaking I can't do that so I add the F-word as an adjective.
Taking the Lord's name in vain is considered blasphemy so being anti-religion I enjoy using this one.
"God knows when ..."
"God willing I will be..."
"Go to Hell!"
"God bless you!"
"I swear to God, I will.."
"So help me God.."
You see a pattern?
Now what can an atheist use in situations that call for this kind of expressions? Hence, we need a dictionary that would contain the translations of these and all such expressions in the non-believer variety.
For example -
Oh my God! = Oh my non-existent god!
Go to Hell = Go to your imaginary hell!
I am thinking of getting a group (Read: Cult) together to start this project. Any volunteers?