Jun 17, 2011

How Mike and I won a dance competition

Last week I sent in a story idea featuring a friend of mine named Mike. I haven't seen Mike in a couple of years, but we keep in touch over Facebook and I saw recently that he'd posted a couple of videos and pictures about his plans to scatter his father's ashes over Cape Breton using a remote controlled plane. He and his dad used to fly the planes together, and it was a wish his dad had for a long time. I thought it would make a great story, and Elizabeth Chiu did a really nice job on it, so here it is.

After we did the story, I was reminded of how Mike and I met.

I've been a salsa dancer for ten years now. I've sort of worked my way up to an intermediate level (although I'm getting very rusty again). Anyway, I know enough to show other people the basic steps. I also have a lot of salsa-dancing friends. Three years ago, in early November, a friend of mine asked if I would help her out with a company Christmas party she was organizing.

Six dancers had to partner with six of the company's department heads, teach them how to do a routine, and compete in front of everyone at the party, just like on the show "Dancing with the Stars."

I didn't think I was good enough to be a dance teacher, but I said yes. That's how I got partnered with Mike.

He'd never danced before. "But," he told me, "I'm willing to put in the time to work on this." He's a wonderfully friendly and open person, and boy, did he mean it when he said he was willing to work hard. We got together every week, sometimes twice a week.

As we practiced, we came up with our secret weapon. Instead of trying to learn fancy dips, spins, and ballroom tricks, I thought it would be better if we designed a section for Mike to just let loose and be himself.

So we danced our partner routine just like all the other teams, and then....Mike stepped away from me, took off his hat, threw it to a startled lady in the audience, and started to shake his booty all on his own. He was so happy he was grinning like a chimpanzee at the dentist's. His co-workers went nuts.

Mike won that competition, hands down. All I had to do was set him up. In salsa dancing, we say: "He is the frame. She is the picture," because most people tend to watch the lady. For once, we turned that notion on its head.

Someone told me afterward, "You're a better dancer than Mike. But I couldn't take my eyes off him. I guess that's part of his charm."

1 comment:

  1. We heard a CBC radio story about Mike and how he bought the toilet plunger at the hardware store. So I was surprised to see how you are connected to him. What a small world this is.