Monday, March 19, 2012

Merengue - My First Love

A couple enjoys the merengue
Ages back, a scared and nervous me entered a dance studio for the first time. It was my first dance class; and my first time learning anything Latin. As I stood on the wooden floor, staring hard at myself in the mirror, I willed my nerves to calm down; but apparently it wasn't working.

After having read what you just read, I won't be surprised if you think that I had never danced before this day. Truth of the matter was that I'd been in love with the stage ever since I was about 6 years old. However, this sort of dancing was outside my comfort zone. Up until then, a Madhuri or Karisma song had suited me fine for my jhatkas-matkas and my nakhras.

I'd signed up for the Latin Ballroom class because I was ready to push myself and go outside my comfort zone; or so it had seemed before my nerves had taken over. I had no clue how (badly) this was going to go.

That's when he walked in; the man who was going to change my life. Bosco Fernandes, at first glance, is a man full of life. He is funny and smart. When you actually get down to knowing him you'll realize that he is exactly all of that - funny, smart and bursting with life.

Bosco announced that we'd be beginning our session with a class on merengue. For all the Latin dance impaired people out there (and for all those willing to learn), here's how Wikipedia describes merengue -

Merengue is a style of dominican music and dance. Partners hold each other in a closed position. The leader holds the follower's waist with the leader's right hand, while holding the follower's right hand with the leader's left hand at the follower's eye level. Partners bend their knees slightly left and right, thus making the hips move left and right. The hips of the leader and follower move in the same direction throughout the song. Partners may walk sideways or circle each other, in small steps. They can switch to an open position and do separate turns without letting go each other's hands or momentarily releasing one hand. During these turns they may twist and tie their handhold into intricate pretzels. Other choreographies are possible.

One session later, I found myself walking back to the railway station with a bounce in my step.There was something about merengue that had me smitten. I was in love with one of the most basic forms of Latin dancing that there ever was. It seemed silly and juvenile; but I was in love.

Months after my first session with Bosco, Ryan (my classmate from college) and I went on to win a trophy in the merengue competition organized by the studio. 

Years later, as I stand at the threshold of beginning my own dance school, I am reminded of how I began my first steps into the world of competitive dancing and technical training. The memories are enough to get me all teary eyed. Nostalgia sure is a powerful tool. 

As usual, I shall leave all my readers with a little something. Here's one of my favorite merengue tracks -

(To learn merengue and other Latin Ballroom forms, contact us on

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