By Melita Kuburas
Chairs and tables in Oakham House dining hall are pushed aside, making room for 20 couples standing palm to palm.
They begin the count: “One, two, three, four&.” They step back and forth as instructed-no fancy footwork yet. These are beginners in a dance class held by the Organisation of Latin American Students (OLAS) every Tuesday and Thursday night at Ryerson.
Their bodies are close, but there isn’t exactly a sexual aura in the room.The straining focus, and clumsy leading on the guys’ part makes the dancing seem more like an awkward first date than a sexual rendezvous.
But if the beginners are a metaphor for that uncomfortable early dating phase, the instructor, Hamza Braimo, is the embodiment of a happy engagement. Braimo grabs his partner with a strong hand and they both move flawlessly.
“When you are dating someone, you are doing the same as dancing,” he says. “If you think too much, you lose a beat, and if you analyze the other person too much, you lose the flow of the relationship.”
Salsa originated in Cuba where Son (African drumbeats mixed with Spanish troubador) was combined with the country-dance of England and France. “It’s a sensual dance, but it’s also about feeling the rhythm of the music as well as your heart. That’s how it’s tied to love,” says Kayann D’Souza, an OLAS member from Goa, India.
Brian O’Brien, a fourth-year business management student, is hoping to learn some new moves and impress his girlfriend. It’s his first class, and when he tries to spin his partner, she ends up in more of an armlock than a smooth turn, but they both laugh about it.
“It’s slightly awkward, but I’m loving every second of it. I’m just trying not to step on toes.”