Is there anything in common between salsa and engineering? We are glad you asked
People in Exness are very versatile. In addition to work, they devote time to other hobbies and activities. For example, our software engineer Hasan Abdurasidov has been dancing salsa for eight years. And he has managed to do it in different cities and countries. We found out how it happened, why he likes salsa, and whether it is so rare to meet IT professionals on a dance floor.
Hi, I am Hasan. And I am a software engineer (Golang) in Security Development. Our team deals with everything related to internal security and IT infrastructure protection.
Basically, we help developers to protect the system from accidental mistakes during development. We also have a project on developing a scam prevention product that is built on self-learning algorithms. It analyzes clients’ behavior and tells us if something suspicious is going on – for example, if somebody is trying to find vulnerabilities in our system. If we find a potential threat, we report it to the responsible teams so that they can save the system from possible damage these actions might cause. This is a set of safeguards to ensure that it is impossible to exploit weak points and do unintentional harm.
The unlikely story of how I got into salsa
I was working in Latvia and lived in an apartment with a neighbor. We didn't chat too often to begin with—until we realized we had something in common. It turned out that we worked in the same building.
We started talking, and he invited me to a party where people were dancing salsa. After that, I got a voucher for four free lessons from a salsa studio. At first, I rejected it – “I won't go, it's not for me, you know, I better go to the gym instead of dancing.” I had all these typical prejudices.
But the following week, I decided I should give it a try. How could I say it wasn’t for me when I hadn't even done it? After all, I had no evidence that I wouldn't enjoy it. So I went. Of course, the first time was quite difficult and uncomfortable as I needed to move out of my comfort zone. But then the second class came, then the third one, and on and on – somehow I kept going back to the classes and the dancefloor regularly.
This happened eight years ago. And since then, salsa has become a huge part of my life, one that brings me a lot of happiness.
Of course, I've had breaks. When you do salsa, you don't need to go to classes all the time to learn new moves. You learn the basics, then something more complicated, and practice it at different salsa parties. And then slowly you start to understand how it all works. However, it's not just a dance, it’s also a way of communication.
Salsa is different from some dance classes because it is social dancing. It is not just about having class every Monday evening with stretching and moving drills. It gives me so much more — friends and experience.
I found that every time I go to classes, dance parties, and festivals, I meet a lot of interesting people. I like to get to know them, meet them at work or go to the bar with them, learn a lot of new information, and have a really good time. This social part is really what hooked me. And that's how it happened: one day you accidentally talk with your neighbor, and voila, next thing you know, you're a social dancer.
Salsa is great for traveling. It's like basic math – it is the same everywhere. I can go to London or Taiwan, search for local salsa parties, and go there and dance with anybody. This is a quick and reliable way to make new acquaintances all over the world, people with local knowledge who can share their experience and recommendations. It helps to get to know the place better and have fun. This is a real perk of social dancing.
So far, I have danced in Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Poland, Germany, England, Russia, France, and Cyprus.
4 more reasons why I like salsa
1. Dancing is physically demanding. It is great cardio and I develop my coordination while training. Also, I engage different muscles than I do in my workouts, such as bodybuilding. It really helps me keep in shape. When I stopped dancing for a year, I gained about 15 kg.
2. Salsa helps me get out of my comfort zone, find new ones, and expand my view of the world. While dancing, people are very close to each other, it involves a lot of interaction, which can be uncomfortable at first. But it drives the development of new social skills.
3. For me, salsa is also a source of joy. The dance originated in Cuba, where it was associated with holy days. So to dance is to bring happiness, not only to yourself but also to others. You go to parties, you dance, your mood improves, you smile and share positive vibes with those around you, and they do the same with you. There is a lot of sharing and celebrating life.
4. Dancing can express a lot of things that we are unable to put into words. It helps to release our energy. For example, some people take a guitar when they feel sad or happy and play because they need to express their feelings. And it is the same story with singing, painting, and dancing.
To sum it up, salsa helps me relax after a work week (especially if it was hard), refresh, and reboot my brain. It is not for everyone, but before you decide it is not for you, it's worth trying, at least. How can you know you won't enjoy it if you don't try it?
IT and dancing: myths vs. reality
It may seem that social dancing and work in IT do not go well together. But I must say there are many people from IT companies in salsa classes and parties – probably half the group.
I believe salsa and engineering complement each other very well. Both are organized, systematic, and have rules to follow.
But dancing provides additional benefits — it's not just counting steps. It teaches you to express emotion and release energy in rhythmic activity. And I think a lot of people need that. They may know how to count to the beat but still not be able to feel the music. They can structure everything in their life so perfectly, but they may have trouble just moving through it because they don't feel the rhythm.
Another thing they have in common is that engineering involves interaction with people, and socializing, just like salsa. And that is a very important skill as we work in a team, we talk to different people, and need to work well together. We use a lot of different ways of approaching people and discover many little tips and tricks on how to talk to them and find common ground. Working alone will never allow us to reach our full potential.
How to get out of your comfort zone
Just get out of it. I think this is it. Of course, before doing something, we may have doubts, ‘what ifs’, and ‘it’s not for me’ kinds of thoughts. I have this trick in my head, too. But you never know where one small step could take you.
You can go to yoga. Maybe you like it, maybe not. Maybe, you will meet somebody there. That may bring you to the party, where you get to know more cool people and swim on an inflatable unicorn in the pool – and it may become a good memory for you. But initially, you were thinking about yoga.
To keep it short: find something interesting, and do it. Take the risk. You might just surprise yourself.
How to combine hobbies and work
I believe it is a matter of time management. On the one hand, I have a work schedule, meetings, goals and tasks. On the other hand, I am very spontaneous and like to try new things.
To make it work, I need to balance both sides. With my hobbies, I make them a part of my lifestyle, a habit. That way, they become a part of my routine. And I still have time for work and to do something wild and different from time to time.
Back to all posts