The Anxiety Diaries: Exeter Uni Solo Salsa

Going to a partner-dance without a partner; does it get any more anxiety-inducing than that?

Welcome to another episode of the The Anxiety Diaries, where The Tab tries things so you don’t have to. As an undiagnosed dyspraxic, you can imagine how scary the idea of taking a dancing class is, let alone without a partner. But it’s also something I’ve always wanted to try so I decided to face the music, as it were, and give it my best shot. Here’s how it went.

First, I had to find a class. The UoE Salsa Society sounded like a good bet so I secured my FIXR ticket for that Wednesday from 4:45-5:30. This was actually a Bachata class, but having done a quick Google, the slower pace looked like a safer bet than the quick six-step salsa beat. Now I had my ticket, I have to admit I was not just nervous, but also excited.

TP salsa counts too…

The next, and to be honest, largest, problem I had was working out what to wear. I had no idea what kind of thing people wore to a Bachata class: did people actually wear those tiddly little kitten heels like they do on Strictly or do they wear trainers? Either way, the pink crocs currently adorning my feet weren’t going to do it, so I braved my ratty old trainers instead. In the end, I found myself leaving the house in leggings and a sports top (as I usually do after spending hours trying to curate an outfit).

After arriving, scanning my FIXR ticket and being handed a name label, I put my stuff in the corner and pretended to be on my phone – you know how it is when you’re somewhere alone. Looking around, I saw people chatting and, from what I could tell, I was not the only newbie. Unlike the sore thumb I expected to be, I was nothing more than a mildly irritated pinkie finger. One of the salsa committee members came up to me and complimented my top, and before I knew it, the instructor had turned up and we were getting into pairs – the moment of horror I’d been waiting for.

Except, it was literally the further thing from horror ever; no one was left out, and no one deeped it – not even me. I was so worried that turning up without a partner would mean that I would get lumped in with a weirdo, or not lumped in at all, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. The classes are specifically designed to make sure that people who come by themselves still get to dance with a partner because every few steps you rotate people, and if you don’t have a partner at the start, it’s only for a minute. You don’t have long with each person so there’s no pressure; it’s a great way to meet people and learn a new skill.

I try to go every week and so have started to get to know some of the regulars. I still don’t have a partner, but I like it that way. Salsa is something I do by myself, for myself, without having to do it alone. I wish I hadn’t waited so long to try it out (I’m a third year now) but I’m proud that I challenged my fear and found something I actually enjoy. I’d really recommend giving it a go, especially if you’re looking for a New Year’s Resolution. Even though it can be scary turning up alone, you won’t be by yourself for long, especially if the committee have anything to do with it.

PS. This isn’t a post sponsored by Salsa society I promise.

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