When I was in college I was asked to join a gospel choir by my RA (resident advisor for you British people – a graduate student who is in charge of and lives in a fresher hall and looks after them and advises them academically and otherwise.) who heard me singing in the quad behind my dorm. She said “you have the voice of an angel” and next thing I know she drafted me for her choir. Aw bless Kiada! Lol.
I however did not have the rhythm of an angel.
I was the token white girl in an incredible gospel choir and as much as I loved the music and my new friends, they got such a laugh out of me every week as I tried to move with the choir. I was always off beat. Coordination is not my strong suit in life. It is amazing as my sport growing up was figure skating. I could jump and spin and loved the athleticism of it and then sometimes I’d forget to take my skate guards off, step on the ice and fall flat on my face. It was a ridiculous contrast.
After I joined the choir and had these awkward moments of bumping into the shoulders of the other girls – very much accustomed to my “on1” clapping background in church. I remember some of the sopranos coming up behind me and grabbing my shoulders and trying to get me to rock on the two beat with them as I bumped into their shoulders, a beat off.
I think they got a kick out of their lil white girl who kept missing the beat. I picked up the new music quickly. I picked up the learning songs without music and memorizing it very quickly. I did not pick up the rocking motion of the choir very quickly! Too many years clapping on1 made that semester a bit of a crash course in switching to the 2 that is more common is African American circles.
Many years later most people don’t know I was off beat in gospel choir and that I didn’t make a show choir (think Glee) because my dancing wasn’t up to scratch as a high schooler. Most people think of me as a dancer as I do it very regularly and have gotten pretty good even.
Well the last year or so it has been a bit like my time in gospel choir and I have discovered something very fun in the world of salsa.
The two beat is back again!
Regular dancing on1* for years in my city and then being dropped into a few salsa nights in NYC where I had nothing else but to have a crash course in learning the on2 has made me come to find this on2 thing fascinating.. so this year I have been practicing on2 with some friends. I have even gone to other cities for it. And now I’ll be working in a city for a few months that actually has regular on2 classes.. looking forward to it very much. And it still makes me chuckle and laugh at my days in the gospel choir..
*on1 breaking on the first beat of the music versus on2 breaking on the second beat of it..