If you have been in the salsa scene as long as I have (almost 4 years), you are almost guaranteed a day, where, in the words of ‘George Constanza’, your salsa world and your real world “collide”. It's not like you are trying to be inconspicuous as James Bond, but there comes a moment of uneasiness where your identity or rather, someone else's identity is familiar and yet their name doesn't seem to pull up in your memory banks. Can you address them with “Hey youuu..” or “How's it going pal?” without looking too obvious? Or should you be debonair and slyly give a ‘knowing glance’ with an added head nod for good measure and walk on by?” It seems practically cold and rude to me when these kindred spirits share such warm experiences with you on the dance floor and/or at numerous workshops and salsa events . I mean these are the people who you are ‘cheating on’ your best friends with. Heck, I share more of my free time with my fellow salseros and salseras than my brother, sister, mom and extended family put together! Note to self; next blog topic, salsa addiction.
Admittedly, I didn't feel as guilty when I was only dancing with men (and therefore the need to remember women’s names wasn’t as dire) but I now have no excuse! Currently I am leading and have asked numerous women to salsa. It is a terrible affliction to forget names or worse not ask for them.
There also is the scenario where someone looks familiar and they catch your glance and come towards you with a smile. Ack! Before you can say “want to dance?”, they addressed your name and they strike up a conversation and all you can muster up on the spot is “Hi!” with a heightened intonation because your pride decides to get in the way.
Come on ladies and gents, at least one of you has been here, right?! You can't put your finger on it or their name is at the tip of your tongue..oK let's try another conundrum. I was at Harvey's with my best friend and without shame I revealed the employee’s alias and confronted them at the cashier by asking: “Have I seen you in salsa?” To my surprise, the young lady didn't seem to reply in pure glee like I would have and instead, she sheepishly said “I only took one class”. Was this too much to reveal?
I will say this, dancer or not, there's nothing like hearing one's own name and this context is no exception! This is why I have started using name association. For example, if I'm introduced to Julia and say, I like Julia Roberts. I repeat her name, “Julia” and in my mental file, say to myself, “Julia, Julia Roberts. Or if I was introduced to Trevor, and find out in conversation that he is involved with theater. I address his name in conversation and repeat in my mind “Trevor, theatre”.
Do you have the guilty pleasure of being overly affectionate with your salsa comrades and hug your salsa friend, in public, in broad daylight? Of course I'm just being silly. However it may look a little self serving to acknowledge salsa partners with grandeur and perhaps this may look like an announcement of popularity to the company you are with when you find them in the grocery store… but in my defense I am so very proud of my salsa community! Even if I am a little forgetful.
In conclusion, I reflect that we should keep asking names in both worlds. I would go even one step further. The next time you meet eyes with or recognize a face, have a conversation with them. Not only does it give you both the time to know each other after a length of time of dancing, but you are also following through with why you presumably joined partner dancing in the 1st place. To connect.
Finally, don't let pride or the feelings of vulnerability get in the way. It's OK to ask “What's your name?”