It has been my dream for several years to learn a dance especially Salsa (of course the Arican dance steps are practically new) and I made several attempts to attend a salsa dance class. Firstly, I heard of a class that was holding at Ogunlana Drive in Surulere, and if I remember clearly, I attended only one session and just could not make it to the class again. Then in 2008 thereabout, I made another attempts with a couple of friends to attend a salsa dance class on the Island, but somehow we never got around to doing that. However sometimes in 2009, my wife and I chanced upon a dance class. My wife had worried one of our former neighbours who works as a brand manager in Nestle to send her gift for our new baby and the young man decided to send us a carton of Golden Morn Cereal through a mutual friend. It happened that the friend was involved in salsa dance and had been attending sessions in Amuwo Odofin area. So, that was our opportunity, my wife and I decided that it was our chance to now learn this much admired dance and we did attend 2 sessions and then the class closed down.
My fascination with salsa started after I watched "Dance with Me", featuring Vanessa Williams. It was a salsa dance drama set in Cuba. I was bemused by the gracefulness with which the actors danced in the movie. Writing this, I recall that the main actors in the movie had a dance school where people came to learn Salsa. The story covered how they went from being just a small school to winning a major competition, and solved long standing family issues that had threatened the school and its founder's family. My sibs and I so enjoyed the movie in my house that for several weeks, the movie was our top 5, the movie that came close to it was "Osuofia in London 1" - That was another movie we also thoroughly enjoyed.
The salsa dance movie was so different from a lot of other dance movies because it featured several Cuban and generally Latino culture and music. Their culture and dance are so laid-back exotic, charming and endearing. I fell in love and have not come out ever since. I love dance, I generally love the creativity that come with dancing. I have particularly watched several dance movies and reality TV shows, from "Dirty Dancing", to "You Think You Can Dance" and ultimately "Step Up 4: Revolution", and I have seen dancing moves that can make a grown man cry.
I am fascinated with the arts - Dance, drama, music, fashion, talk and writing. I think it draws out an aspect of your being that is succulent and refreshing; especially given the highly driven work environment we live in as Lagosians. The arts put you in contact and keep you in touch with your emotion. It allows you translate your inner feelings into a tangible blanchus that can be shared and enjoyed. I danced from childhood, sang in the choir from age 11, and joined choreography after senior school. I have written songs, manuscripts and poems of my own. I fondly recall that in Business Training School, I wrote poems for my colleagues to give to their loved ones.
The art resonates with me, I love when a story is well told. I had this friend in secondary school, Keti, who would read Agatha Christie's books, James Hadley Chase, and that British Sir that went to jail, trying hard to remember his name - yes, Jeffrey Archer, and other exotic stories that I can't tell where he got them from, and this guy will keep us spell bound for several hours telling us stories. The guy was just about 12 years old himself at that time, and he did this from when we were in junior classes until we were well into senior school. He was a big influence, at that tender age, to my appreciation of story-telling. I took Literature in English up to O'levels, and read all kinds of poems and stories - Silas Manna, The Concubine, To Sir With Love, Lambs' Tale from Shakespear (remembering that book made me nostalgic), Mayor of Casterbridge, Sizwe Banzi is Dead, Beautiful Ones are Not Yet Born, Another Chance etc. I also read poems like The Snake, Africa and others too numerous to count. And I haven't stopped reading, I have read "Half of A Yellow Sun", "There Was A Country", The Original Gulliver’s Travel, Odysseus, and now, I also write my own.
Back to my dance class, I am working hard at learning all the salsa dance steps - Basic Step, Single Side Step, Double Side Step, In-step, In Step Forward, endless. I am amazed by the gracefulness with which my colleagues are already dancing. I have also tried to learn my Azonto and Alingo and that Etighi (quiet a comical dance step indeed). At least now, I have bragging right in my house, I can dance salsa better than my wife.
The moral of the story: Enjoy life, that is God's plan for you and I - to have and enjoy life in abundance, to the full, till it overflows. All the serious things we do can be really consuming, and they are truly important, but like that Poem says "What is this life if full of care, we have no time to stand and stare". Most of us are letting life's best moments pass us because we are focused on the destination instead of enjoying the journey. Without enjoying the journey, the destination will become same old vanity, and when we get there, if we ever get there, we will only end up saying "Now we are here and so what?" Let’s enjoy our journey, enjoy our spouses, our children, our job, our careers, our callings, our friends. Let’s enjoy the process, the moments, this moment, instead of postponing our joy and waiting for some illusionary future when all would have been worked out. Savour today. Slow down a bit and savour today. For a man to enjoy his work, it is the gift of God.
I'll leave you with this Sonnet (14 lined poem) I learnt in Junior School, for your reflections:
"What is this life if full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep and cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass,
No time to see in broad day light,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night,
No time to turn at beauty's glance,
And watch her feet, how they dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this, if full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare".
Poem by William Henry Davies - Titled “Leisure”.