Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Dancing with a Dweeb: A Love Story

Congratulations to Charmaine Gordon and Lillie Ammann for being the winners of an autographed copy of Dead Witness. Ladies, please contact me privately and I'll send you your copy. Thanks again to everyone who stopped by and left a comment during Blog Jog Day. Thank you Carol Denbow for organizing such an exciting event.

Now back to work...

I'm pleased to introduced Al Carlos Hernandez. If you can read this love story and not laugh out loud, well...

Dancing with a Dweeb: A Love Story
My body simply does not multi-task when it comes to physically expressing myself to music

By Al Carlos Hernandez, Contributing Editor
Published on LatinoLA: April 10, 2009


Embarrassingly, I am so inspired by the TV show Dancing with the Stars that I have to tell my own story about tripping the light fantastic.

I am one of the few full-blooded Latino males who cannot dance. It's not for lack of trying or the lack of resources to hire professional trainers. My problem isn't genetic and has nothing to do with race. My parents, especially Mom, were great dancers.

We grew up raised on radio, nurtured in a music filled environment as my dad was a weekend musician. My sisters dance. I'm not sure how well, since I've never danced with them. Maybe if I had, they would have told me, in no uncertain terms, how much I sucked. This could have saved me years of humiliation.

My brothers, one a Harley biker, the other a successful Porsche-driving attorney, are somehow socially bound not to express themselves in a festive and physical manner in public. That leaves me to distinguish myself as the Dork of the Dance.

In the early years I was successful in doing the slow strut vato loco two-step. It didn't matter what song was being played. The girls thought I was a brooding, troubled romantic. However when disco came along I had no shame in my game and took to virtually running in place while snapping my fingers in the air. I've been told I looked like a commercial for the Cholo Special Olympics.

Then there was the time I was strutting my raggedy stuff down a Soul Train line at a house party in Oakland and almost took a beat down because my moves were so stiff and lame. Luckily, I faked a platform shoe ankle injury and escaped with my permed Afro intact.

When salsa music hit hard, I was a program director for a Spanish radio station in San Francisco. We would co-sponsor the biggest and baddest salsa concerts the West Coast had ever seen. Women would drag me to the dance floor only to try to lose me during the timbale solo because my moves were so spastic and whack. After a lady would dance with me, her girl friends would hit her with their purses after she got back to the table.

Believe it or not I thought I had it going on. I thought that by amending my aerobic disco-jog by kicking my feet off to the side, then flapping my elbows like a rooster getting ready to jump over a barn, it was salsa. It wasn't salsa. It was sorry. Friends and family, through an intervention, convinced me to limit my club participation to buying people drinks and court-supervised slow dancing.

Ironically, I met my wife, a great dancer, at a salsa club. It was during a radio station sponsored Halloween party. I spent the whole night trying to convince this gorgeous conservative Latina business executive that I was not the convict-looking, pinto vato loco my costume made me out to be. But my headband kept slipping down and blinding me to the point where I felt like smashing a piñata.

I growled at dudes who asked her to dance, scaring them away. I then took courage and asked her to dance myself. The room got quiet as I limited my movements to very subtle rhythmic steps while keeping my arms near my waist, avoiding flight. As confidence grew I began walking around in circles while moving my shoulders to the music. The radio staff was no help. Soon everyone in the club knew that I was trying to dance again. All eyes were on me, waiting to bust a gut at my murdering of this traditional art form.

Mi vida quickly read the situation, discerning the glee that my free-loading entourage was getting at my painful attempt to salsa dance. She took pity on me and led me back to our table. This gorgeous, intelligent woman realized that I endured public scorn by trying to make her happy. We have been together ever since. 25 years married in May.

Enamored, I confessed to her that I was not a dancer and, although I can play some conga and bass guitar, rhythm somehow has no way of getting to my feet. My body simply does not multi-task when it comes to physically expressing myself to music.

We agreed to do all of the slow dances together. Then it would be my job to commandeer the best and usually most effeminate male staff members to dance with her during the up tempo tunes.

It has been years since we have danced in public. The whole experience falls under the "been there, done that" category. If we got to a club nowadays we'd see that what passes for dancing used to be considered a misdemeanor fondling morals charge.

I have learned through trial and error how to accept my social limitations. I am happy to have had such good friends who cared enough to tell me how much I blew at dancing. My inability to dance never cost me any money. It did teach me a certain humility and probably qualified me to run for public office

About Al Carlos Hernandez, Contributing Editor :
Al Carlos is somehow now really famous in Paris, France
Edited By Susan Aceves
Email the author – alcarlos@comcast.net


  1. Hey Carlos.

    My husband and I made the same mistake. Or rather, I made the mistake.

    I began dancing in the womb and simply continued once I emerged. I thought everyone could dance.

    Then I met my husband. I was young, newly married and stupid. I insisted on ballroom dance lessons. Before that experience, I didn't know two people could cross a 50-yard room in six steps. Power Ballroom Dancing with the analytical flair only an engineer could inject.

    And it's only taken us 24 years to laugh about it. I think that's pretty good.

    (Joylene: sorry I missed announcing your book giveaway. I'll be more astute next time.)

  2. I think that's wonderful, Martha. In our case, I'm the one who dances. After three decades I do it alone now instead of insisting he join me. LOL. You'd think with time he'd get better. Nope. He still resembles a chicken wanting desperate to fly. Cracks me up and totally embarrasses our sons. Haha.

    Not a worry about the giveaway. I'm going to do it again because it was just too much fun.

  3. This really brings back memories. Thanks for the chuckle, Al. I'm not going to share, but do know I'm smiling widely.

  4. Thanks to both of you for allowing us to share the fun!

  5. That was pretty funny. No sympathy from me. Any guy that lets his wife lead him out onto the dance floor deserves what he gets. Bars were invented for such occasions - to help men avoid the hardwood floors & overpaid garage bands.

  6. @Hi Sarah. I'm glad you enjoy Al's story. Thanks for commenting.

    @You've very welcomed, Karen. Thanks for visiting.

    @Dave, glad you stopped by. Hope things are going well in the sun country.

  7. Thanks for the book, Joylene! I'm excited that I might actually be able to read it in a few weeks after I heal from my cataract surgery.

    Enjoyed Al's story. Neither my husband nor I can dance, so we can both identify.

    Lillie Ammann
    A Writer's Words, An Editor's Eye

  8. Hi Lillie. Hope you enjoy your book. Thanks for stopping by. Yes, I could listen to Al's stories all day long.


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