Salsa dancing at Coolabar (29th July 2011)

I really shouldn't be heading out dancing when I've got an early flight tomorrow morning but since Ken's competing in the salsa heats at Coolabar tonight, I have to make an appearance to give my buddy moral support, plus take the opportunity to video him in action ;) I'm pretty much packed anyway, having started packing yesterday for my 2-week trip in California. So excited - I'm finally getting to see Jono in person! Yippee!!

Around 8.30pm, Ken and I caught the train and headed out to Coolabar on Pitt St. It was my second visit to this salsa venue and cost $13 entry fee, an additional $10 if you were taking part in the Jack n Jill dance competition. "Not me, just him," I said to the lady at the door when she tried to convince me to join in. I don't think I'm quite ready for it having only been back dancing for a few weeks...Tonight's salsa heat was the first of two heats and there were 5 others who have signed up by the time Ken put his name down. The heat is on!

Gosh, I never seem to get the opportunity to rest at Coolabar! Before I could sit down to take a breather, next comes another guy asking me for a dance. It's definitely a nice feeling to be asked so often and by various dance leads. Each guy has their own style and set of moves they would lead throughout a song - gives me plenty of variety and I get to learn new moves dancing with lots of leads as well. Adrian was very quick to come grab me for a dance whenever the opportunity arises and gave me another glow bangle this evening. "You look particularly happy tonight, smiling even more than usual," he said as we danced and before I could tell him why, he went "Of course you're happy - happy to see me and dance with me," and I rolled my eyes and laughed. He's always acting all full of himself just to be cheeky. Sorry to disappoint but you aren't the cause behind my plastered smile ;P More and more leads are recognising me in the Sydney salsa scene these days, several of the guys giving me a polite nod and smile as I passed by. "Hello you, my student," went Clement - I've only attended his class on Wednesday and now he remembers me. Eek!

Around 9.30pm, Clement got the DJ to turn down the volume to announce who's paired up with whom for the heats (Ken was paired up with a girl named Martina) and winners for the lucky draw. Ken and I had thought the numbered chits given to us on entry were for a free drink draw - turned out the draw was to be a judge for the heat which in return scores you a free drink. You wouldn't believe it but I got selected to be a judge! I told Clement I was Ken's friend and it would be unfair for me to judge but he said it didn't matter. "Just decide based on what here tells you," he said to the 6 selected judges (Adrian was one of them), lighting tapping his chest where the heart is. It was pretty straightforward judging - all we had to do was give them a score from 0-10 with 10 being the best. "But first, a round of drinks for all!" and he ushered us to the bar where we all got to choose up to $10 worth of drinks each. Hmm, isn't this going to impair our judgement? Hehe...

With a drink in one hand and a score sheet on a clipboard in another, the judges each found a spot on the edge of the dance floor to watch the dancers (we were free to move around the edge as we like). The first 3 randomly paired up couples stood in their allocated areas on the now emptied dance floor awaiting the DJ to play the song - I found myself a pillar which had a stand where I rested my camera to video Ken and still had a good view of the competing couples. The song began and I watched the dancers show off their moves. I'm impartial when it comes to judging and Ken being my buddy doesn't score him extra points - sorry man! The key thing I was looking for in these couples was connection, whether or not they were having fun dancing together. I've seen many dancers over the years who are literally dancing by themselves, with their fancy shines and styling, and not actually dancing with their partners; 'interacting' or making a connection with eye contact and body language is essential in dance and makes even the basic of moves beautiful to watch.

The next 3 couples stepped out to the dance floor and us judges continued on our task, finishing up by giving each couple a score. All the score sheets were handed over to Clement and social dancing resumed till the results were announced around 11pm. To be honest, I was a bit disappointed at the end result - I was expecting Ken and Martina to be runner-ups in the heat and the winning couple to be the one who were the actual runner-ups (this couple, though lack eye contact, would have wowed the crowd and other judges with their acrobatic moves so it was no surprise they would win). The couple that won the heat deserve credit for pulling out many fancy moves and styling but didn't score very high in my score sheet due to their lack of interaction with each other (it was like watching technical dancing without any emotion, the type of dance that loses my attention after the first few bars of the song). Oh well, I think Ken gave his best shot and kudos to him for taking part in the competition. Video I took of him in action:

More social dancing and I had several fun dances with a few of my favourite leads who happened to around tonight - peacock dancer (I learnt his name is Idor), David (we only had one dance and it wasn't even salsa!) and a few other nameless leads (which is how they end up getting all sorts of nicknames so I could remember their faces better). Ken and I left around 12.15am to catch the last train home and I was in bed by 1.30am. And I've to be up at 6.30am!


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