I haven’t been writing much in my blog for several reasons. First is that I’m still adapting to how everything has changed since my Father died and this blog is not a personal diary. It’s not here so I can show the world my most private thoughts.
However, I’ve realized there is something that’s become a passion of mine in the past year that I have yet to write about here and it’s something I do love doing and talking about. Anyone that knows me knows I love cycling and enjoy walking and lifting weights, but that’s about the limit of any training I’ve had in movement.
And yet in August I’ll be competing in tango and a number of other ballroom dances. How did that happen?
What really gets me is when people say, “I can’t dance.” And I’ll dump some personal history here on why. I was the kid who never did any sports in school. It was a private school so we had to stay extra for athletics in high school. I helped with the trainers and did the hiking and canoing program when I could. I was not good at any sports at all and would have never made any team even if I had tried. All through school (I went to the same one from K to 12) I was constantly teased about my lack of coordination. One time we were playing volleyball and I swung at the ball, thinking I was going to actually get a good shot. Everything lined up perfectly and I put force into that swing and watched as my hand went up to meet the ball, then kept going. I missed the ball by 2-3 feet. Later my eye doctor explained that I have slight astigmatism. Long story short, the ball looked like it was where my hand was heading but there was no way I could tell it was farther away than I thought.
Fast forward to about 18-19 months ago or so. Actually a little later than that. I thought learning ballroom dancing would be neat and knew where they did lessons on Wednesday nights. I drove over there, went up the stairs, looked in, and saw one row of men and one of women and they seemed to know what they were doing. According to the clock, they should have just started. I was terrified looking at all those people who knew what they were doing. The men were in sync and the women could see everything the men did. I took off.
Finally, a few months later, I went back and started trying. Even for a simple foxtrot (for the guys, step forward on the left, forward on the right, step to the side with the left, then bring the right foot over to close — for steps, forward-forward-left-close — see how easy it is?) when the teacher started to show us, I started to feel like that kid in elementary school and felt like everyone was looking at me, taunting me and just waiting for me to fail (or fall!). I was facing a deep fear to do this and I kept coming back each week. After six weeks we were back to the same dance and I had forgotten everything. I didn’t learn much that first 9 months or so, but had started enjoying it.
About the only thing I did learn by going once a week was that I could face the fear and make my feet move the way the instructor showed me. Then about a year ago, that instructor opened her own studio. I started going one night a week, then two, then three, then also including their Friday night dance parties, which scared me to death when they first started because nobody was there telling me what to do when I got out on the floor.
I started this, in part, to face my worst fears and that’s what I did. Then, a few months ago, I realized that I was out there taking lessons or going to the party 3-4 or even 5 days a week, not to face my fears, but because I wanted to be dancing. It occurred to me during an advanced tango class that I no longer felt like the kid in elementary school that was scared to death of learning something new that I might fail at. I was actually looking forward to new steps and was facing them with confidence.
And now I’ll be competing in tango, bolero, and several other dances this August and am expecting to do a showcase dance for a special event at the dance studio this September. All this from the school klutz.
I’m so sick of people saying, “I can’t dance.”