Paul is our most veteran Oxford University Salsa teacher 2019/2020 and probably one of longest members in the society. He is also a regular at our weekly socials every Wednesday at the Retreat (see a video of him dancing below), he may also be seen calling the Salsa Rueda moves, so if you see him and you want to dance a Rueda, let him know to start one! Would you like to know a bit more about him? We asked Paul a few questions to get to know him better. Here are his answers:
Why did you decide to start dancing?
I had my very first Salsa lesson about 15 years ago. I was visiting my uncle’s family in Caracas, Venezuela. It was a Saturday and my cousin wanted to go out Salsa dancing in the evening with one of his various (!) girlfriends. He and my aunt tried desperately to teach me the basics all day long. However, I turned out to be so abominably terrible at dancing that in the end they just gave up, and we went to the movies instead (Pirates of the Caribbean, the original film). I proved to be resistant to being taught for several more years despite moving to South America and the very best efforts of many of my friends there. Miraculously, I eventually got the hang of it when I came to Oxford, after about another year of trying. At that stage, however, learning Salsa was less about dancing and more about washing off the shame that I had heaped on the family name.
How long have you been dancing?
Trying to dance: 15 years. Actually dancing: maybe 9-10 years.
What do you like the most about dancing?
Getting lost in the music, when the universe contracts to just the song, your partner, and you.
Why did you decide to start teaching?
I was president of the Salsa Society at the time. We had had a bad couple of years and we were in debt but we needed to hire more teachers — teachers we couldn’t pay. I had done some coaching when I was team captain the year before so figured “how hard can it be?”, and took it from there.
What is your favourite song?
Al DeLory’s “Via”. There are many other songs that somebody else might prefer but then they would be wrong.
What’s the funniest thing that has ever happened to you that’s related to dancing?
I am a serious person – even for a German. No. Fun. Allowed.
What is the most memorable place you have danced at?
I was on a language course in St Petersburg, and it was June or July so a time when the sun barely ever sets there. They had a huge dance floor along the Neva, which is the river that runs right through the city. Every other night, there were hundreds of people dancing from 6pm to 6am. It was a great summer.
What are your other hobbies apart from dancing?
I love to eat very well, so I cook a lot. To get rid off all the excess calories, I go running and swimming. Other than that, I have also diversified into dancing Tango.