The fun, smiley, and tall Joel Jimenez (self described, and what he truly projects), confesses that his guilty pleasure is asking questions. With a gift for gab and putting people at ease, this ever-so-bubbly bundle of energy is surprisingly shy off the dance floor (which is a shock to hear)!
Joel was born on a military base in the Central Valley town of Atwater, CA. The town was so small that he had to leave just to visit a mall, movie theater, or even Starbucks. With so little to do locally he didn’t discover dance growing up.
As an adult in new city he finally found dance. Rather, dance found Joel – who interjects, “I’m over 30 but younger than 35.” Insert Wink emoji + Hush, whisper emoji! His wise articulation combined with his youthful spunk leave many intrigued and charmed.
To those who think that going out dancing is only for twenty-somethings or believe that one can be too old to go out dancing, Joel informs, “Dancing keeps you young. Every dance I’ve been apart of is open to people of all ages and skills. Just be yourself, take classes, be respectful and you’ll be fine no matter what your age, race, sex, or maturity level.”
In 2010 Joel began dancing salsa and bachata, then grew serious with American Ballroom. He competed in several competitions including Open in Worlds, and danced American Smooth and American Rhythm. This led him to a ballroom studio where he taught “almost every style under the sun” for five years. He also trained in hip hop, modern, tap and ballet. As Joel ponders adding Capoiera to his lengthy dance roster, he adds, “I’ve always thought Capoeira was so cool. But I may need to get in better shape and get younger before trying it.”
Joel got into teaching because he realized that he could get paid for doing something he loves. Revealing, “I enjoy seeing people do something they never thought they could accomplish. Probably more so than any individual accomplishment, my greatest dance achievement was having a student qualify for Nationals in ballroom. I was so proud of what she accomplished and it made me feel amazing, as did having great students who are sponges and are eager to learn. Also the tax write offs are nice” (laughing)! “What I liked least, and what led me to leave teaching was that I no longer danced because I wanted to. It became a chore, and I never had time to work on my own dancing. I taught on top of having a traditional “9 to 5” job, so hours were rough, I had no social life and my diet went from cooking nightly to eating at whatever place was open late night.”Joel now finds time for himself again, going out 1-4 nights a week.
While seeking more places to social dance Joel discovered ATOMIC. His previous studio only had one social a week, but he wanted more. So he started attending Wednesday night salsa/bachata nights and Saturday night ballroom socials. Joel most enjoys the people at ATOMIC, asserting it to be a friendly crowd and environment with some of the top teachers in the entire world. It comes as no surprise that in such a friendly space romantic connections are often easily formed. On the risks of mixing business with pleasure, Joel professed, Yes. I think while not always smart, for many of us, dance is our social time, and we’re meeting so many like minded individuals that it’s only inevitable that you’ll find someone that even has a smidgen of interest in you.”
Joel responds with a laugh, then finds someone to dance with when he encounters those who believe dance is not a “manly”. Elaborating, “Words I find do very little to sway an uneducated opinion. Showing them you’re having a great time should be enough and if that’s not enough then they have their own personal issues to conquer.”
To those who don’t consider dance a sport, Joel quips back, “Try it!” In fact, he just came off of a pretty nasty knee injury that kept him sidelined for 10 months. Currently he’s fighting through plantar fasciitis (for the 2nd time), and now has a minor back injury. However that doesn’t stop him from continuing to move. Especially as dance has yielded far more benefits than drawbacks. For example, as a result of his dancing, Joel has made some of the most amazing friends all over the world. Adding, “There are some real lovely people that are dancers wherever you go.” He continued, “My weight fluctuates quite a bit, but when I was a ballroom dancer I was in quite amazing shape. I think dancing keeps me active and mentally sharp, but depending on what style you do you should definitely supplement dance if you’re looking to make that your workout.” Furthermore, dance even helped him get through some major life challenges. He testified that, “It has been one of the most freeing and best ways I’ve found to express myself. ”
Joel encourages first timers to stick with dance not by showing them basic steps, figures and amazing dances, but more importantly showing them the people and bonds made. Insisting, “Most people want to start dancing to make new friends and meet new people. It’s extremely rare to find someone who’s never danced before who just want to compete. Hopefully from there they give it a try and catch the bug. To others who consider giving up, you have to help them realize why they started dancing. Competition results in the end for 99% of us don’t matter. We’re there to have fun and make connections.”
Having performed a number of routines and ballroom showcases for several studios. Joel cautions that this route may not be for everyone. “Not everyone wants to or need to get in front of a crowd and be the center or attention or be judged.” Wisely advising, “Have dance fulfill your needs, whatever they may be.”
“Dance helped drag me out of the darkest point of my life. While dancing has given me many ups and downs, it’s something that I’ll do until the day I die. I love it so much.” I hope to do it forever. I want to meet new people and share amazing experiences with people from all over the world. I think the only way I’ll stop dancing is if I’m dead and gone.
WOULD YOU HAVE GUESSED?
* Other hobbies? Board games, video games, music, and sports.
* Played basketball, baseball and soccer.
* Favorite teams : San Francisco Giants, Chicago Bulls, Oakland Raiders, US Men and Women’s National
Teams for soccer.
*Favorite comics : Watchmen, Hajime no Ippo, Slam Dunk, and BECK.
* Favorite life lesson “Just be yourself, It’s good enough.”
*On not having a favorite dancer, Joel explains, “I honestly love watching a variety of people interpret music and create moments with their partners.”
*Would you have guessed? : “If I could have a superpower it would be Cosmic Manipulation. I could basically shape humanity, the universe and everything how I see fit. I could advance humanity or just use it to lead a perfect dance. The powers are limitless.”
*Favorite artist is Allen Stone. Joel asserts, “I’ll dance to anything. Seriously, I will.”