It is very interesting to what happens to a newly enamored salsa dancer. One ends up thinking about salsa so much, that you end up daydream dancing. I'm not really sure if that is what its called, but that is what I will be calling it…
Now, I think I end up daydream dancing mostly in the car. I put my iPod in my "Current Favorites" playlist and just let it go. While I'm driving down a highway (some straight road), I end up thinking how I'm dancing with a follow and start performing patterns to the track that is currently playing. The interesting part is that i'm not really placing my virtual self in any specific club (maybe a congress setting), but its more about what I am doing with my partner. I guess going back to the Matrix (The Movie), it is like placing myself in virtual club that has the perfect setting. It even has the ideal dance partner.
However, the setting has one uncontrollable variable – me.
I start dancing to the song with my partner doing some of the patterns that I already know. However, as I get grooving to the song, I start mixing some of the patterns. Example, maybe instead of doing a simple hammerlock turn, I'll try do a double spin for the ladies into a hammerlock position while I quickly turn to the right to catch the hammerlock hand. Yeah – its a big upgrade from just doing a simple hammerlock. But because this i a virtual matrix dance scene in my head I can force myself to see how things can come out (without injuring the girl).
The funny part is that even while I'm daydream dancing I will still make mistakes. The main reason is that after I have warmed up my brain with my known patterns, I'll try to improvise OTF (On-The-Fly) my moves based on the song. I'll try switching the left hand with the right hand, adding my extra turns, doing hammerlocks myself etc. Now, because I keep track of the beat and I have a pretty good idea how long it takes me to turn and do specific styling, I will be able to tell if I stay on beat. If I screw up, I try OTF to fix my timing by coming up with some weird step or body styling pause. Also, I may come up with some complicated patterns (hand positions, leg locks..etc) that might end up not working and will have to literally learn to figure out how I could get out of it OTF. In some cases, I'll have to let everything go because I know I can't fix it.
Now the main reason to daydream dance is really more about your mind than anything else. Half the time, its not that your body can't do the movements in time; its really that your brain has a hard time keeping up. In dancing, your brain has to be always ahead of the game (or music). It has to know what you'd like to do before you actually do it. Of course, it also has to perform lots of calculations: your steps, your partner's steps, your hand connections, the beat in the music, the surrounding couples dancing, the dancing slot..and so on. Training your brain to think OTF will help improve the quick decision making required in getting through some of the dances. In the same fashion that you would force your muscles to lift more weight than they can so they can grow. Just like the matrix, it is really about making your brain be faster than you think it is. It is another great exercise to become better in your dancing.
I recommend that if you are sitting at your desk, with your headphones on, and jamming to a good salsa song – give it a try. You might end up coming up with a new pattern all by yourself.
DISCLAIMER: I don't recommend for you to daydream dance, especially in a moving car…