No, sorry, I’m English, I can’t dance.

So in the UK I love to dance. I’m a natty mover. I evolve from a practised two stepper with the occasional fist pump to looking like I’m moving for singles in the time it takes to consume a few jäger bombs. I dance because it’s fun, I dance to enjoy myself and I dance with my friends. In England it’s Ok to look foolish, ridiculous and un coordinated as long as you have a big ol smile plastered over your perspiring face.
Not so in Colombia, whereas in England I would grab my friends and bounce along to the beat, in Colombia you look mentally unbalanced to do so. Dancing is a skill, an act of ego, a demonstration of your talent. Yes dancing is fun here, but it’s much more important than that. It’s a serious undertaking.
When I say I can’t dance, I don’t mean I cannot physically dance, I just can’t dance in a way that is pleasing to the eye, rhythmic and sensuous like the people do here. In England if you danced with a guy like you do in Colombia platonically, you’re pretty much committing yourself to buying a nice semi detached, getting joint life insurance and making the choice between a labrador and a border collie. Or at the very least trying to work out if you did actually move the moulding mug of coffee and yesterday’s pair of knickers from next to your bed. Personal space doesn’t really apply to Colombian dancing.

In England there is always that couple on the dance floor, the ones so close that you can’t see where one ends and the other begins. They aren’t graceful, they’re most likely wasted and the dancing has devolved into a foreshadowing of what is going to happen in a couple of hours, just sans clothes. In Colombia the couples are more fluid and interchangeable. Female friends can dance with the same guy without hurt feelings or the standard in the club toilets, mascara soaked proclamations of ” but he was mine, did you see her all over him?” Dancing is more sensuous, but it’s not necessarily sexual. To presume that after seeing a couple grinding all over each other they’re together ( or soon will be) just doesn’t apply to Colombian culture.

In the UK a male friend once described dancing in a club to me as making a sexual invitation. Essentially his understanding of dancing was that you go to the dance floor, rub up against a girl, if she rubs back, then you’re in. If she slaps/pours a drink over you/ kicks you in the nuts, you probably have to move on. Now, English ladies, wouldn’t it be nice, to go to a party and dance with a guy without this primitive view of dancing? To be able to dance the night away without having to fear his tongue being thrust into your mouth? To dance because it is fun, rather than because you don’t want to pay for the taxi home on your own.

How I choose to dance in Colombia.
Like a drunk (and happy) British girl. Amusing for other people, mildly embarrassing for my Colombian friends.
Awkwardly copying those around me. Trying to mimic without smashing everyone’s delicate toes with my cumbersome size eights.
With a strong lead. Lead me, spin me, make me dance pretty!
With my shoulders, doing a sitting down dance, nursing my incredibly strong and large drink.

(This drink by the way was called Guaya and cost about £12. It was 70% alcohol, lasted all night and I actually couldn’t even finish it. Please bring Guaya to the UK. I need it to stay in my life.)

Tips for the English when dancing in Colombia
1- that stranger next to you? Pretend to yourself that you’ve known them years and you want them to put a ring on it. Enjoy yourself, dance close and forget everything your mother told you about dancing with strange men.
2- it’s all about the hips, forget the awkward shoulder bobbing and throwing your arms skyward whenever the beat drops. Pretend your controlling a very slow and erratic hula hoop and it’s all good.
3-ignore the Colombian girls around you. They will make you feel awkward, clumsy and un co ordinated. (Which you probably are, but being reminded of it doesn’t help.) It’s all about confidence, which brings me to my final point . . .
4- it’s all about confidence. Well I guess it’s about confidence where it isn’t about actually being able to dance. In fact, maybe just take a class, practise in your room or just sit this one out. (Or get yourself a Guaya cocktail, confidence and tomorrow’s headache included)


4 responses to “No, sorry, I’m English, I can’t dance.

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