I love going to big salsa events because a lot of them have my favorite thing in the world: Salsa Pool Parties. The Orlando Salsa Congress this year had one of the best pool parties I’ve been to ever and to me, Salsa pool parties distill the essence of what is so wonderful about dancing Salsa. People were there with their friends, their husbands, wives, and kids. Music was blaring, the sun was beating down, drinks were pouring. People were barely clothed— bathing suits, cover ups, sunglasses, some flip flops or sandles. But it didn’t matter. Dimpled thighs or six packs, all were welcome. It didn’t matter. Nobody wanted the party to end. I realized that day that I wanted to raise my kids in that kind of environment. Friends and strangers dancing together. 

And the music. 

The music. A bass line hits and it goes deep into the pit of your stomach and all you can do is go “UGHHHH YES.” Then the keys tinkle and the timbales ring out and the clave is holding it all together and you’re up, pulled to the dance floor as if by a magnet. You look around, looking for someone to dance with. It doesn’t matter who— you just HAVE to move to that music, it’s like your life depends on it.

A moment of anxiety— are you going to have to sit this dance out?— and then you feel a gentle tug on your hand and you’re on the dance floor but there’s not really room on the actual floor, so you step onto the poolside concrete and it’s slick with sweat and pool water and God knows what else, but it doesn’t matter. You may be developing a shiny new blister on the bottom of your feet or slowly frying your skin, but who cares when the music is so good and you can just move. It doesn’t matter if your shoes are bedazzled or if you do multiple turns or if you’re even wearing clothes— Salsa Pool Parties are the Great Equalizer at any salsa event.

It’s all about the movement and the music, and the movement feels so good. It feels so natural. Barefoot, sweating, twisting, turning, slick hands sliding across each other, the accidental bump up against another couple who’s lost in the music. To an outsider it might seem sexual, carnal, but it’s not. There’s a level of joy, of loving life and oneself that you feel outside with the sunshine and the breeze and zero stress. There’s not one defining moment to it, but a series of moments that are all beautiful, exciting, energetic, and moving. You are already savoring the memory of that flawlessly executed turn as the next one begins. You feel the way you do after a long day at the beach— you can still feel the waves when you lay down that night. It’s like that after that perfect day of dancing. You can still feel the gentle push pull of a cross body lead or the swing into a turn, the sensation of every part of your body being involved and alive. Activated. Active. Awake. 

You realize that you’re asleep through most of every day. That you don’t feel, that you just think. That you just let your thoughts race and you go through the motions. But on the dance floor, it’s the other way around. You can’t think. You can just feel. 

The song ends and you experience that pang again…is it over? Will this moment ever be recreated? And then someone else asks you to dance, and the whole process is started over again. It’s a new wave. Similar, but it still has it’s own properties. 

And that’s why I love casual Salsa environments, like a pool or beach party. Because the self-consciousness present on an “actual” dance floor isn’t there. It’s just sweaty bodies and amazing music creating some kind of magical alchemy that results in that high, that feeling of loving life, of being carefree, stress free, and truly happy

So…when’s the next Salsa pool party guys??