Category Archives: experiences

Driving Lessons

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I am learning how to drive.  Following the advice of my family, I enrolled in a Manual transmission driving course.

The first few days, I was struggling with the pedals, especially the clutch. Good thing my regular driving instructor was motivational (after a few chats, I learned he worked as a basketball coach before). He instructed and helped me manage the pedals well enough.

Last week, my instructor decided I was ready for EDSA. I said “Ok, let’s go”. My lessons were from 8am-10am, so I had to deal with EDSA traffic. Boy, was I tensed having a truck in front of me! Traffic was slow moving, and for those manual drivers, you know that it takes pedal control to cruise through traffic. A taxi who changed lane and overtook me was a savior, so I did not have to deal with the truck. Yes, I survived and my instructor gave me a pat at the back.

Slowly, I think I am getting better at driving, with a lot of realizations on driving such as:

1) Perfect the basics – In this day and age, we want it fast. But some things just can’t be rushed, I needs to be learned.

2) Don’t panic, don’t rush – I had to restart the engine a few times when I rushed because I was afraid I being too slow. But it caused me more time. I just needed to do the right thing the way I knew how, not minding anything else.

3) Learn your limits – When driving in reverse or on a side street, it’s best to cruise slowly. On a highway, speed is required. Learn what is needed on different situations.

4) When in doubt, ask – Self-explanatory.

Lastly, in any endeavor, practice is the key to excellence. Now, if I just have the money to buy that car.

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a night at the ballroom

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when my friend mj invited me to go ballroom dancing, i had to laugh. ballroom dancing? the mere thought of going to a ballroom dance bar is practically unheard of for people my age; it is something that lonely matrons older ladies enjoy doing (baaad, misstranger, baaaad!!!). grave misconception aside, i do enjoy ballroom dancing at parties and at those long-ago lazy saturday afternoons when my aunt used to invite a d.i. (dance instructor) to come to my lola’s house and teach the ladies in our family the joys of social dancing. however, those parties and my lola’s house were familiar, comfortable places. i have never been to a ballroom dancing bar before and it is with a mixture of reservation and excitement that i accepted mj’s invitation. 

dressing up was a bit of a challenge. dressy-dresses and heels are de rigueur in ballroom dancing, that’s why i was glad to learn that formal pants paired with a nice top are allowed. i simply refuse to wear a dress especially when taking public transportation. it’s the shoes that presented a problem, because one of the heels of my strappy sandals broke the last time i wore them. good thing i found a pair of closed shoes with one and a half-inch heels. i know, i know. how safe is that. heheh. i did away with putting on make-up and went au naturel. looking at the mirror and scrutinizing the overall effect, i decided i look human for once. 😛

i have to admit, shallow moi was laughing when my friends and i arrived at the ballroom dancing bar up until we were shown to a table. it seemed to me that we were in a different dimension, far, far away from the familiar. that and the fact that the word matrona kept screaming in my head. still, the excitement built up when we heard the music, and saw people swinging to the music of voyage (let’s get started). ha! swing is my absolute favorite ballroom dance, and by then i could hardly wait to get to the dance floor myself.

e, a guy friend of ours, is a d.i. at the bar and he was the one who danced with the three of us ladies. so while one of us was dancing with him, another d.i. would come up to our table and ask the other two to dance with him. in my mind, i was like, wow, it feels like prom night. but hey, that’s just me. chalk it up to my being a newbie at this kind of place. 

i marveled at the general atmosphere–the muted lighting, the music (by the dj and the live band), and especially the people swinging, waltzing, foxtrotting, salsa-ing, boogie-ing, argentinian tango-ing, cha-cha-ing, jive-ing, reggae-ing and what-have-you on the dance floor. while the majority of the ladies certainly are of the older set, they don’t exude that matrona vibe and they definitely look like they’re having fun. it was easy to spot those who really go ballroom dancing all the time just by looking at their stance, posture, and the grace with which they move. and hey, do those ladies have the moves! they totally blew me away. also, some of them actually bring along their own d.i.s. others like us dance with the in-house ones, who are as good.

among the social dances, swing, reggae, salsa and cha-cha are the crowd favourites while the more experienced remain at the dance floor for the tango, jive and waltz. as for me, i enjoyed dancing the reggae and argentinian tango as well as swing, of course. it was my first time to learn the reggae that night and it was really easy. i find the argentinian tango’s moves very sexy and if i were just wearing the right kind of shoes, i would have slid and spun across the dance floor very sexily easily. that was one mistake i made, i didn’t consider the kind of soles my shoes should have. the pair i wore had the rubber kind so my feet always fell behind and i couldn’t sway the way i had to. make sure that your shoes have leather soles so it would be easier to glide, slide and spin gracefully and not look like some cow. 😉 swing gave me a natural high like always. i let the music spin me around as if my shoes weren’t rubbery at the soles. in fact, i don’t think anyone suspected. 😛 

one other discovery i’ve made is that not all dance instructors are males. there are female dance instructors as well, and my friends and i had the pleasure of getting to know one. in fact, we four and e turned the dance floor into a somewhat regular disco but we didn’t care, we were having so much fun dancing to our own moves. each pair (or in our case, group) to their own. hahaha. by the time my friends and i left, we were in very high spirits, even higher than we were in before arriving. ballroom dancing absolutely brought out the happy hormones times three.

so, do i still think that going to ballroom dance bars is only for the older set? not really. any preconceived notion i have about it was dispelled by the pleasant and enjoyable experience i’ve had. while it’s obvious that older people prefer this as their pastime, just about anyone else who is interested in ballroom dancing should feel free to go. i know i won’t think twice again when i am presented with another opportunity to go ballroom dancing.

and oh, i’ll make sure that i have the right kind of shoes. 😉

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here’s a short playlist of my favourite swing music (four songs). just hit the links!

let’s get started – voyage

souvenirs – voyage

ain’t nothin’ gonna keep me from you – teri desario

zodiac – roberta kelly