Finding Spartan Mambo

I danced in musicals throughout middle school and high school, but I never devoted my life to dance(as I thought it should be). After taking my first dance class at West Valley College a few years ago, I realized that I needed to incorporate dancing regularly multiple times a week–for the rest of my life. Not to be dramatic. (A dancer must dance! – A Chorus Line)  When I transferred to San Jose State University, I fervently looked for a dance team. 

On club fair day, I walked around over fifty tables to find my future teammates looking mighty good with all their first place trophies covering their table and more than ten members behind the table, instead of one or two. I signed the emailing list and went to auditions that Saturday.

(I hadn’t been at an audition since Fall of 2012. Three years can seem a lot longer than three years, I guess. Oh, also for that audition I was also dancing with a crutch. But that’s a different story…)

My old director, Jeff Bengford, or “B”, always told us to look the part on auditions day. Women should wear skirts if they’re going for a feminine role, etc. Make it easy for the casting director to see you in that role. So I wore a flowy black skirt and fancy top and brought my dance shoes. When I walked in the dance studio, I saw everyone wearing workout clothes. Ah crap. Now I look obnoxious. But the show must go on.

We were all anxious and excited at auditions. More than thirty of us were trying out. We stretched and then the perfectly physiqued coaches handed out a form to fill out about ourselves with questions like:

Why do you want to join Spartan Mambo?

What are three words that describe you best?

Tell us anything else you’d like for us to know.

Finding a place to sit, I met a cheery girl next to me named Helene. We deliberated together each word scribbled on the paper that would decide our future. Helene told me how she had just moved to San Jose from Norway that month and she actually lived with a Spartan Mambo Alumni, Neha, and the Lady Coach, Natasha! She was also new to the salsa scene, so we were in the same boat. We wanted nothing else than to be on this team! We got great vibes from the dancers.

We learned a thirty second choreo and performed in groups of five or six, two lines. No sweat, but lots really. Adrenaline rushing, they called out the names of the people who made it on the performance team. Helene’s named got called first, then mine. Rejoice.

We went out to lunch at a cafe/bar downtown after to celebrate, discussing our hopes for the team, that maybe one day we’d be on competition team, and about who we were.

Our lives were going to change, that’s all we knew.

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