Thomas Boutell

Just some guy who made a thing.

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During my London semester, back in '89 (yikes), I spent some time at the Camden Palace. That was my first club dancing experience. I remember closing the joint a couple of times. It was out of character for me then, but I liked the physical abandon of it. Mostly though I didn't dance much in between my teenage bedroom and my mid-thirties.

When I was single again in my mid-thirties and looking to try new things, I finally took a swing dance class to satisfy a lifelong curiosity... And I nearly just ticked off that box and moved on. I'd missed the swing revival, and as far as I knew there was nowhere to go.

But a friend took me to Brasils Nightclub, the salsa club in Old City, Philadelphia. And I realized that this was a living, breathing scene and I could go dancing as often as I wanted. Which was a lot.

For weeks I'd come home every Friday with feet still dancing in my mind's eye.

But I was still a suburban Connecticut dude with two left feet, so I took private lessons until I had a much better idea what I was doing, then started hanging out at a local latin dance studio.

It takes longer for fellas, because we have to learn how to lead from an instructor. By contrast, once someone who dances the "follow" part has the basics down, they learn a lot from every good lead they dance with.

I've danced salsa for a number of years now and still enjoy it, but lately I've fallen for blues dancing. Blues is much more spontaneous and collaborative... the "lead" and "follow" roles are not so strict, and you'll come across women who prefer to lead some of the time. It's very easy to pick up.

It's a little like writing free verse after writing nothing but sonnets for nine years.

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1/2 '16