Salsa Sunday | 10

Meet Russ and Luz.
Thanks to my faithful readers, I have gotten 98769876 leads for new couples to feature on Salsa Sunday! Today's couple has been dancing along side me for years, but I had no idea who they were, nor that they were even a couple! For shame.

Now Luz and I are very well acquainted and I even got to dance with her hubby a few weeks back. Ladies and gentlemen, without further adieu, I present to you: Mr. & Mrs. Russ Nolan. 


Our first formal meeting was on June 6, 2009. I came from a social mixer at the 92nd Street YMCA. Do you know what a social mixer is? It is a social gathering of age-specific men and women. People who go to these socials are usually interested in meeting the one. In my case, it was NO ONE! Well, what do I have to lose? I told myself that if things do no work out, I could leave early and go to the Carlos Konig dance social.
That’s how it turned out. It got boring, so I left early and headed out for the dance social. On the way to the social, I resigned to the fact that if I will be alone for the rest of my life, there is always salsa dancing. It is always something you can depend on seven days a week. It will never break your heart as long as you do not get involved with your dance partners. That’s how I’ve done it.

In 2009, I was salsa dancing for seven years and I never dated a salsa dancer. From my experience in the salsa scene, dating people from within the crowd is like a revolving door. In the winter, you may see Joe and Maria dating, then by spring, Maria could be dating Juan, then Joe could be dating Iris and so on and so forth (names are fictitious). Sometimes, a man or a woman could be dating 2, 3, 4…10 people at the same time; especially a man or a woman of authority.

In the salsa scene, what is a man or woman of authority? A talented or loaded leader or follower or instructor will be wooed by many beginners or very green dancers and could use their talent or dough advantageously to date other people; or a man or woman dressing less to dance with better dancers. This is not a criticism of the salsa community, just an observation. This happens in every social setting. The salsa crew is a miniature representation of the world.

Going back to June 6, 2009, because of my cynical observation of the salsa world, when Russ asked for my business card I knew that was his act, but because of this cutie pitutie-looking teddy bear, I said, I’m just gonna have to give you my cell number since I do not have my business cards with me.

He texted me the next day telling me that he could not make it to the Jimmy Anton social since he was working. I said that was fine. We also planned to have coffee early that week, but things did not pan out. We ended up planning for a casual dinner that Friday and we went to Saigon Grill by the Union Square area.

From the get-go, I asked him if he was married or dating somebody else. I also added that I know what I want and do not play games. I am very independent and if you are wasting my time, then we should not start anything and just be friends. I thought I was going to scare him after I said that. But surprisingly, after dinner, he invited to go somewhere for coffee.

We went to this tiny coffee shop at St. Marks Place. We walked from Saigon grill to the coffee shop and we passed by my apartment building, but I never told him where I lived. As I rule, I don’t tell strangers where I live; it’s just a survival instinct that had been built within me since I have lived in NYC for the past 28 years.

Anyway, throughout the night, we discovered that we are both looking for the same essence in a relationship: loyalty, well roundedness, consideration, maturity, independence, compromise and more importantly, salsa dancing. We had our first kiss that night and planned to go to Mambo Mama’s social the following day.

This was the beginning of a beautiful friendship and romance. We were together as much as possible. Since I am a Nurse Practitioner at one of the major hospitals in NYC and I start work at 7 am, we could not spend most weeknights together; however, all of my days off were devoted to spending time with Russ. We tried to learn other dances such as west coast swing. The time we spent together was unpretentious and so easy. Everything fit. Russ often says that we’re like an old married couple.
  

I think this is the advantage of dating when you are older. If you know from the beginning that it will not work, you get out of the relationship ASAP and move on. In our case, we continued to fall madly in love with each other. We talk over the phone everyday if we cannot see each other. We will never let a day go by without saying I love you. 

In the meantime, we always talked about how much time we could see each other if we were living together and how much that would mean to both of us. After this conversation, I finally asked him if we were officially engaged. I thought I spooked him earlier on when he asked me if I wanted to get married again (since I was married before). I said if I found the right man who will truly love me, I will re-consider. As a matter of fact, he wished I said that I already found the right man since I met him. So I thought I would make up for my previous statement by asking him if we were engaged? This happened in February 2011, 20 months after we met. 

We then told family and friends that we were officially engaged. In March, after buying our engagement ring, we told the general public that we were engaged. We planned a small wedding on May 10, 2011 with a few close friends and had some mouth watering steak at Peter Luger’s. We celebrated our wedding party on June 4, 2011 at Carlos Konig Social with our beloved salsa community friends and personal friends. After all we regularly met at this social and what a special way to share this celebration with anyone who loves to dance and with anyone who wants to celebrate life?

Russ, a professional saxophonist, with the accompaniment of Carlos Konig on guitar, serenaded me with my favorite song, ‘My One and Only Love’. It was a very special event for both of us. We intend to continue dancing well into our 90s, God-willing. See you on the dance floor!

Luz and Russ decided to share their wedding salsa with us; fitting since this is a wedding blog with a salsa feature, right? I hope you enjoy their sweet dance. Thanks again to this cute couple for agreeing to be featured on the blog. If you know of any other "real life" salsa couples, send 'em my way, please!

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