Walk This Way – Cuban Motion (or Lack Thereof)

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So I ranted a little bit against arm styling but that is nothing compared to how I feel about the whole Cuban motion thing.  I know it is an essential part of any Latin dance but let’s be honest, you’ve either got it or you don’t.  If you don’t, you may be able to eventually do a reasonable facsimile of true Cuban motion but too many times it just looks like you are trying to hard and that might be worse than not doing anything at all.  A lot of guys just exaggerate the hip movements just to do something and that is wrong on so many levels because they aren’t getting the timing or the beat and they just end up looking silly.  To some guys, that isn’t a problem but one thing I don’t ever want to do is get up and look silly when I’m trying to do something serious.  Got no problem laughing at myself when the moment is right but I don’t want to look like a complete idiot.

As the Shakira song goes “Hips Don’t Lie”.  Actually, the more appropriate title for me would be “Hips Don’t Move” but that’s another story.

Well, on Friday, we put together the beginnings of the Rumba routine.  I have a love/hate relationship with Rumba.  Some Rumba music is really good although I’m drawn to more high energy music like swing and cha-cha but Rumba as a dance just doesn’t do much for me.  I love the smooth dances that move around the floor and I love Swing and Cha-Cha because of the music.  Bolero just has a different feel than Rumba and I do like doing that.  Could also be that my instructor loves to tweak my somewhat inhibited and introverted nature by totally invading my space during some Rumba moves.  I know it is eventually all for the good but it just doesn’t do much for me.  To each his own as they say.

And, of course, she started the Rumba routine with us side by side and walking together for a couple of beats until we do some kind of move and start the routine.  As she would say “It’s just walking, how can that be a problem”.  First of all, because normal walking is heel to toe and I don’t care what my hips do and I don’t stop on each beat and I don’t have to hold the first step longer than the other two and I don’t have to focus on making sure one leg is straight and on and on.  Secondly, because we are side by side, there is no place to hide and if my timing is bad and/or my Cuban motion is non-existent, then it will be obvious to all.  Third, she feels the music much more than I do and she’s a very good competitive dancer and she was slipping into that mode and moving parts of her body in ways that look great but that I have no hope of matching.  Yes, I know I shouldn’t expect to be at her level and I don’t but the contrast is what bugs me.  She’ll look polished and professional and I’ll be this deer in the headlights trying to think about Cuban motion, timing, etc.  So it is a heck of lot more than just walking.  (As an aside, this probably explains why she always says things like I get hung up on things that nobody else worries about)

I would try to talk her out of the opening walks but I realize that would get nowhere.  In the end, as she says, I’ll just have to suck it up and do it.  (She’s really big on tough love by the way)  I agreed to this path forward because I have accepted that dancing is much more than steps and that to get to the next level, I need to work on making the dances look more like they are supposed to so technique becomes much more important than it ever was.  Its just that Cuban motion always feels awkward to me and anything that is awkward automatically sends my brain to bad places because I start imagining that I look like a complete idiot and everyone is laughing at me. Trust me, it doesn’t take long to descend down that path.  I think I really need to look into getting some kind of more appropriate shirt to wear because if I look the part, I might feel more like the part. But nothing with an open collar – I ain’t going that far and nobody wants to see that.

Back at it tomorrow and I will try to keep my mind open.  After all, it’s just a couple of walking steps.  What’s the worst thing that could happen?


  1. I feel your Cuban motion pain. When I was first introduced to CM, I thought it made me look like a pathetic older woman trying to look sexy. Well, now it’s making me actually FEEL sexy, so hang in there! Remember, sometimes teacher really does know best.

    1. You are probably right. The teacher knows best although I do sometimes hate to admit that she’s right. I’ll be OK. Just want to get my complaining out of the way here so I can approach tomorrow with an open mind.

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