Archive | February, 2014

50 Shades of Jay at CSI

10 Feb

The Charlotte Salsa Invitational this past weekend was an exciting event: I had the entire length of my arm sniffed during a dance, thought I knocked over my partner during another only to find that he had dropped into a full split in the middle of the floor, and very successfully resisted the temptation to buy a sixth pair of dance shoes (they were four-inch leopard print heels…resistance was nearly futile).

But for me, the highlight of the weekend was taking Jay Stylz’s “50 Shades of Jay” workshop and a private lesson with Mr. Stylz himself.

Mr. Stylz teaching at the Charlotte Salsa Invitational. Photo by Daniel Tarrosa.

Mr. Stylz teaching at the Charlotte Salsa Invitational. Photo by Daniel Tarrosa.

“If it ain’t sexy, don’t do it” is Jay’s motto and he peppered his hour-long workshop with useful advice on how to keep it sexy.

Some of my favorite conventional wisdom from him:

(Guys) want to run your fingers through the lady’s hair? Feel for tracks first because if you rip out $1,000 worth of a girl’s hair, she might kill you…

Every wonder why Bachata song intros are long as hell? So you can scope out the hottest lady in the club…Or at least one who’s willing to dance with you.

Always approach a lady from behind—go up behind her, grab her hand and you’ll be four steps in on the dance floor before she realizes she doesn’t even know your name.

Marcos from Latin Swag and Denisa from Pasofino. Photo by Daniel Tarrosa.

Marcos from Latin Swag and Denisa from Pasofino. Photo by Daniel Tarrosa.

Besides helpful aphorisms, Jay also taught techniques for dancing Bachata sensually that, when done correctly, will make a lady feel beautiful and when done incorrectly, might make a lady feel creeped out at best, mildly violated at worst. His workshop encapsulated what I like about Bachata —when done correctly, it makes women feel gorgeous and confident and I suppose makes dudes feel pretty studly too.

Kristen and Ashwin from Pasofino. Photo by Daniel Tarrosa.

Kristen and Ashwin from Pasofino. Photo by Daniel Tarrosa.

After the workshop, my friend and I approached Jay about doing a private lesson and later that afternoon we spent an hour in one of the empty ballrooms soaking up more of his wisdom (including how to practice body rolls up against a wall…I’ll let your imagination do the rest).

I asked him what separated good dancers from great dancers and with no hesitation he said ‘The basics.” So, he spent an hour refining and polishing our basic Salsa steps and turns so that (at least in our minds) we looked more like Magna Gopal and less like when Charlie Brown dances in Peanuts.

Me and Jay after our lesson. Photo by Rebekah Phillips.

I wanted to have a great, insightful moral to this whole story and what I realized is this: Find an instructor you click with. Someone who makes you smile, makes you laugh and makes you want to be the best dancer that you can be. Whether it’s someone in your hometown or a Youtube superstar who’s videos you love or who’s workshop you enjoyed, don’t be afraid to connect with a good teacher and make a point to take his or her classes. A few years ago at a Salsa congress, I took a private lesson with Tanja from Island Touch—I was too nervous to ask her myself, but my friend marched right up to her and asked if she did private lessons and she graciously gave me her number and scheduled a time the next day.

Dance instructors, even the biggest names, are people too and they make their living by teaching peons like us.

Speaking of which, I’m already contemplating asking Jay if he does Skype lessons…

 

Did you like the professional photos in this post (not the ratchet iPhone snapshot)? Check out my friend Daniel Tarrosa of Salchata Media Bloc’s pictures for more fantastic pictures of people gozando y bailando!