I’m writing this on the metro, late for a 8am meeting with some peeps from head office. Normally, I’d rant and rage against the horror of a 8am meeting, on a Monday of all days, but not this time, because I’m in Paris, in the midst of a 10-day work trip. Turns out I am ALMOST a morning person in Paris. Waking up early doesn’t seem so terrible when I can just roll outta bed and find me some GOOD coffee and warm delightful pastries (yes, plural, calories don’t count in Paris, obvi) within 3 mins walking, any direction. #thehardlifeofanaccountant #everythingisbetterinParis I’ll spare y’all the hashtags about being blessed/grateful/happy/chubby. Because the point of the post is not to brag about how awesome my job is. The point is to brag about my weekend, and my newest breakthrough in vulnerability and self-discovery.
Last Monday, 2 days before the start of my trip, I was at my kuduro class, shaking my booté to Teacher’s latest ridiculous choreography (see below). He casually mentioned he and his dance partner would be in Madrid for a huge kizomba dance congress over the weekend. I casually mentioned I’d be in Paris. To anyone who knows Teacher, this next part won’t come as a surprise: he told me that I would spend my weekend with them, in Madrid.
Teacher is one of those larger-than-life personalities, a vortex of energy whose dreams usually turn into a semblance of reality. His personality is zany, he is definitely crazy, yet he pulls everyone along with him willy-nilly, and life becomes much more unpredictably hilarious when he does. Which explains, of course, why I found myself buying a plane ticket to Madrid for a weekend getaway, leaving Friday after work, and returning to Paris Sunday evening.
Y’all. Can we take a second to realize how crazy that is? Let us list all of the reasons why that was a terrible idea:
- I’m an accountant, with slight OCD tendencies. This was clearly going to be a chaotic weekend;
- I’m vanilla. ’nuff said;
- I started kizomba in beginning September, and I haven’t been to class since Halloween because of work. TWO months of kizomba. Two months. I’ve only ever gone to two cozy socials (remember what happened at the last one? Hmph) in Mtl, where I know half the people present. This congress would attract 800-1000 people;
- I don’t speak spanish or portuguese (the language of kizomba);
- The only 2 ppl I would know there would be Teacher and his partner, and obviously they’d be busy since this congress is a work event for them: teaching, networking, and non-stop socializing to increase their brand. I don’t do well with crowds of strangers – remember how close I came to wrecking my enjoyment of Dynamo’s wedding? There would be no safety net at this event;
- Did I mention I am vanilla? These dance congresses mean lots of horny people, and parties that go till the wee hours of the morning (the official schedule of the event shows that the night parties start at 11pm and finish at 6am). Horny people make me nervous, and I like sleeping.
I went. I found the Friday night dance social hard: zero familiar faces, Teacher always busy, so many people, and an unfortunate ratio of women to men. I had to ask guys to dance. Unlike Mtl, where my physical appearance outweighs my inexperience… in Madrid, the dudes don’t care about my appearance, because ALL the women there are sexy AF and GOOD dancers. I got turned down. Frequently. One drunk guy got so frustrated with my inadequate hip-shaking, he walked off mid-song. No, I didn’t take that personally but yes, that did take me aback just a little bit. I noticed all the signs of the pervasive horniness around me. I could feel my vanilla protective walls go up. I felt like a fish out of water. My brain started to whisper, “you don’t belong here, this was a mistake”.
But here is the thing. I met some great people that night: former students of Teacher that have become kizomba instructors in their own right, with their own dance schools, and who view Teacher as a mad mentor/inspiration/friend. They took me under their wing, encouraged me to go to the workshops on Saturday and to get out of my bubble. One of them laughed at me for my reserve and dislike of small talk,
Vanilla, you are here to meet people. That is how you increase your chances of having fun at the night-time socials. Yes, you go to the workshops to learn from the best instructors in the world, but you also go to meet fellow dancers. Making new friends is a good thing, you know. You are stopping yourself from having a good time. Yes, you are. Everyone is here to meet new people and dance. Join the party. Ask people their name, where they are from. It really isn’t that hard.
As for my dislike of the perma-horniness around me?
Vanilla, you take what you want out of these congresses. Don’t feel like hooking up? Don’t hook up. That simple. No one expects it from you; they might be delighted if you’re down for it, but it is not a mandatory aspect of these congresses. People are here first and foremost to dance. So go dance.
When I confided my paranoid brain’s suspicion that I didn’t belong, he stared at me in absolute confusion. It took him a few seconds to process what I had just said, and then he was outraged,
You are an idiot, yeah? An idiot. How many people have recognized you from those kuduro videos Teacher has posted on Fbk? That’s right. You’ve been dancing for two months, yet Teacher felt you should come to one of the biggest congresses of the year, because you’d have a good time. You belong here, as long as you let yourself enjoy it.
So I did. And funny story, my experience at the Saturday night social was dramatically different from Friday’s. I danced non stop. I scanned the crowd, and saw familiar faces. I relaxed, stopped worrying about my dancing skills. I danced with beginners and some of the top instructors, and managed to hold my own (or rather, they are such skilled dancers, they gave me the impression I was holding my own). I had FUN. I stayed till the end, going to bed at 7:30am.
Sunday, I managed to drag myself outta bed, and walked about Madrid soaking up the city. Caught my plane back to Paris and was in bed by 10pm.
I’m so happy, and proud of myself, I don’t mind if I have 8am meetings every day for the rest of the week.
Behold, we so cute. Teacher, his dance partner and myself, on the same Mtl-Paris flight. The start of an excellent trip.
It was a revelation watching Teacher in his element, and seeing him alongside other kizomba greats. Its one thing to enjoy him as a teacher in Mtl, its another to witness his place amongst the best. I like his crew of students-turned teachers; his affection and pride in them does him credit, as does their affection for him – a little kizomba family. I find them inspiring, following their passion and finding ways to monetize it successfully. These are people who don’t let their fears hold them back. #badassdancers #newfriends