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When the passion and dedication move you a lot more than other people’s opinions.
A fight, a story of self-improvement that has taken Raquel Cobo to succeed and work in that she loves the most: dance.
What’s your name?
I am Raquel Cobo, ballroom dance teacher, American-dances and Zumba official instructor.
How long have you been working in dance?
I have been working as a dancer professionally for more than 21 years as a teacher and choreographer. I am European Champion of Acrobatic Rock&Roll and licensed by the Madrid Sport Activities Federation.
What other dance styles do you teach?
Currently, I work in many schools and academies in Madrid and I travel to teach workshops and dance training in other cities.
I teach all competitive and social ballroom dances, just to understand in Spain we divide competition ballroom and social, improvised ballroom. I teach bachata, salsa, kizomba, tango, lindy hop, west coast swing, all American couple dances, pasodoble, waltz, jive, swing, milong among many others, and zumba.
I teach classes from an amateur level to a professional level to other teachers who want to get training and control at the same level in both leader and follower in the all the dance styles I have named before.
I have asked you to tell us your personal story, your fight against gender stereotypes in the dance scene which you have had to suffer along your professional career.
Would you mind telling us?
One of the first disappointments I have had in dance and that I have always feared is going out to dance to have fun, because in many occasions I have been rejected dances and been told “no”. If I approached a girl she would tell me she doesn’t dance with women, and if I approached men either they would also say “no” or wanted to dance with the amazingly well curved woman next to me, not to mention that a girl asking someone to dance was unacceptable. All this happened when I was starting and it was really hard because I was young and felt very out of place to be honest. Up till today I am very embarrassed of asking people to dance for fear of rejection, even though as you get older and stronger you get over these things. These same things happened with wanting to be an entertainer, presenter, rrpp asking men in dance clubs to dance…back in my day a girl could not do that: impossible.
There a lot of dance schools, dance clubs, etc in which I have asked for work as a dance teacher, may it be ballroom or latin, and I haven’t been called or have been directly rejected for being a woman and not bring a man as a partner. Because in those same dance spaces men could work alone and take the lead, but not women.
The most hurtful story for me, and at the same time what set a turning point for me in my life was when I was called by a dance club to teach a bachata workshop and asked me if it is possible to bring a partner. I didn’t want to refuse the job because I had always wanted to be a part of that scene and asked a student (man) to accompany me.
I told him I would pay him half of what I was going to make, I don’t remember how much exactly (for example 100€), so I said 50€ for you and 50€ for me. It was a student who had been learning with me for long by then and he accepted.
We did the workshop. I marked it with him previously and put on the microphone myself. At that point the boss already commented “are you carrying the mic? The woman?” and I replied, “yes, of course. I am the teacher”. His face was not exactly what you would call nice, warm and pleased.
We danced all night and, when it was time to leave, the boss came to us with two envelopes: my male student received 60 euros and I got 40€. To what my student replies “I was given 10€ more in the end” and I said: “yes, it’s the same 10€ they took from me”. His answer what “why is that?” I explained that in some places the man earns more and he says “cool!”. He did not have the decency to give me my part of the money and two days later he met a girl and said bye to the dance scene and stopped dancing.
Since that moment in my life I refuse to be imposed a partner, even though that means teaching less classes, I teach alone. I have been training and learning for many years as a leader and as a follower, my parents put in a lot of effort and work for me to learn how to dance and till today I dont need a male dance partner, whether someone likes it or not.
The history of Raquel Cobo is one of success and achievements in a “traditional partner” dance world. Thanks to her, new and future generations of female dancers and teachers have the path ahead today a little bit easier. Every day new talents appear in the dance scene, and thanks to people like Raquel who fight and have fought for gender equality, the partner-dance scene today is a little bit better.
If we know our history, we don’t have to make the same mistakes again.
Don’t forget to follow Raquel, comment and give us your opinion.