Archive for the ‘misery’ Category
So I’m in DC for the Lindy Exchange, and perversely, this post isn’t going to be about the exchange at all. Isn’t that just like me?
See, my sister is a local resident, and since I’m staying with her, I figured it was only right I let her talk me into checking out her preferred form of dancing while I was in town. My sister is addicted to salsa dancing, so on Thursday night we dropped in on salsa night at Dance King Studio in Leesburg.
Now, I’ve done a little bit of salsa, just like I’ve done a little bit of practically every other dance that’s going these days. I’ve even had a little zydeco led on me. Never tried contra, but whatever. I figure if you can follow at all, you can pretty much follow anything.
And that’s generally true. Following is following. You may not follow pretty or look like you know what you’re doing, but at least you won’t get your arm broke off or do anything really embarrassing.
Which pretty much sums up what was happening for me Thursday night. I was managing to get through most of the turns and make it from point A to point B in one piece.
But you know what completely eluded me? The aesthetics of the thing.
First of all, as a lindy hopper, dressing up to go out dancing means something different to me than it does to a salsa dancer. I wore the only heels I had with me, a pair of black Aris Allens that are vintagy-funky-cool at a swing dance, but at a salsa dance they could not have appeared dorkier. Girls dressed up for salsa wear tall, tall spindly spiky things on their feet. Salsa dancers cover the stylistic range between elegant and slutty, but they all appear to be aiming for sexy. This is in no way the aesthetic for swing dancing. And even though I wore the closest equivalent outfit I could throw together, I’m sure people were wondering why I was dressed like someone’s grandma. I felt like a total doofus.
Secondly, there’s the music. Oh, the music. I think that in order to be able to dance convincingly, you need to be moved by the music. And salsa music does not move me, unless it’s out the door. It sounds like circus music to me, and it was way too loud. But my sister, and here’s the important point, my sister listens to that stuff IN HER CAR. Enough said?
Finally, though, salsa dancers just seem to have a different idea of what dancing is actually FOR. As an outsider, it appears to me that they’re really hung up on the whole gender-role difference thing. The men are really manly, and the girls are over-the-top girly. And when a lead approaches me with that Magnificent Beast look on his face, well, it just makes me want to laugh.
Which I actually did, periodically throughout the night. I laughed. Swing dancing makes me laugh a lot, which is why I do it. But salsa dancers don’t seem to like that so much. As a matter of fact, the highlight of my evening was when one of these magnificent beasts led a turn on me, and accidentally smacked me right in the forehead. I about died laughing. I had to stop and have a short fit of hysterics. And the man just stood there, wearing that Mask of Zorro look, not even cracking a grin. Just stood there waiting until I had recovered and could proceed with the serious business at hand. If you don’t think that made me feel like the Special Child, think again.
So basically, salsa dancing, blech.
But I will say that salsa dancers do seem to be enjoying themselves every bit as much as I do when I’m at a swing dance. So I’m not disrespecting the dance itself. It may very well be that I am just way too awkward and unwieldy for this much more adult-seeming form of dancing.
In fact, I’m just perverse enough that I might for the hell of it buy myself a pair of those spiky things and give it a try again next year.
(P.S. Had the honor of meeting fellow dance-blogger Jason from “Dancing Past the Godzilla Threshold” at the lindy exchange last night, and if he’s reading this, he better get ready because I intend to ask him for a lotta more dances tonight!)
One of my dearest friends in the whole wide world has an interesting job. She’s an actual, authentic, professional, jet-setting rock-star dance instructor.
This is a woman with whom I’ve shared laughter and tears, good times and bad, and all the ups and downs of being a human being on this planet. She’s the sweetest, dearest person imaginable. I’ve taken dozens of classes with her, and from her, and danced with her hundreds of times.
And still, every time I dance with her, I’m terrified.
Why? I don’t know. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that no matter how much I think my dancing has improved and how pleased with myself I might be because of this, every time I dance with her I still get incredibly intimidated. As a result I end up dancing like one of Santa’s reindeer with a Duplo block stuck in his hoof.
I admitted as much to her recently. We were out dancing one night, and she was actually getting a little discouraged with me. “Why is your arm so tense?” she asked. “What’s wrong?” I confessed to being intimidated at dancing with her, and she was frankly amazed. “You’re scared of ME?” she asked. “Why??”
Well, let’s see (I think to myself): you’re famous. People pay you to travel all over the world and teach them how to dance. You have more dance expression in your left clavicle than I’ve got in my whole body. No special reason.
So then and there I decided that from now on, when I dance with her, or with any other dancer I’m especially nervous about, I’m going to take a new approach. I’m just going to TRY to dance bad.
See, back when I used to have to work in offices and go to meetings and such, I learned that in the business world, people expect you to be businesslike. Above all, this means that you can’t ever cry at work. And sometimes I’d be at work and I’d start thinking about my kids and how much I missed them while I was at work and they were at daycare, and I’d start to tear up. You know, hormones. It happens.
Anyway, I hit on this strategy. If you ever start crying and really really need to not cry at that exact moment, here’s what you do. You TRY to cry. It will totally derail you and completely confuse your tear ducts and they’ll dry up immediately.
So I figure the same thing might work with dancing. If you’re dancing, and you start to feel like you’re dancing badly just at the exact moment when you really need to be dancing well, like say if you’re dancing with your rock star BFF, then just try to intentionally dance as badly as possible. It very well might trick your body out of being able to dance bad.
It’s actually just a theory. But so far it’s working: I haven’t had a really horrible dance since I started using this system. Of course, that might be a coincidence. I don’t know. What do you think?
Last night I didn’t feel like going dancing, but I made myself go anyway.
I’d been depressed all day, you see. It was one of those days where I just couldn’t get started at doing anything. Nothing sounded fun or important enough to bother with; consequently, I wasted most of the day lying around fiddling with a Rubik’s cube and eating leftover Halloween candy.
So I felt like a slug. Way too much of a slug to go dancing. Plus my back hurt and I had a weird pain in my foot. All I wanted to do was stay home and watch old Sanford and Son episodes. But I figured staying home would just make me feel worse.
Besides, I was supposed to meet someone there, and I just didn’t feel like yet again, like always, failing to follow through on my commitments. You understand the kind of day I was having?
So I dragged myself to the dance. And I had a terrible night.
Not like the music wasn’t perfect, it totally was. And bunches of my friends were there. It should have been great. And I did have a couple of very pleasant dances with folks.
But I just wasn’t feeling it. Physically, I felt exhausted and huge, like I was this big awkward object lurching around. Mentally, I felt like I was back in middle school, watching the popular kids have fun while I ate my lunch at the dork table.
There was this girl there that I’d been wanting to dance with, a really good follow who I don’t really know, but have been dying to try and lead. The perfect song came on, so I ran to find her. She was talking to a guy, but I had already tapped her on the shoulder before I processed that she was busy. Not like I could just go “oh, never mind.” I’d already interrupted their conversation, I had to follow through, so I asked her to dance, and she agreed.
I was pretty sure she’d said yes just to be polite, so I really wanted to dance well to make up for my having asked her to dance in the first place. You know, make it worth her while. So naturally, I danced terrible.
Then, to make it worse, I apologized for my bad dancing.
Then, to make it even more worse, I tried to explain, and then suddenly I found I couldn’t stop explaining. I kept talking on and on, and she was staring at me like I was a crazy person. Which I basically was.
For the rest of the night I found I had this apologizing complex. I couldn’t stop apologizing, and then apologizing FOR apologizing. Leading, following, didn’t matter. I couldn’t stop telling people how bad a dancer I was. It was like my body had been taken over by some weird apologizing demon, and all I could do was helplessly listen to myself, unable to stop.
I don’t even know if there’s a moral to this story. Sometimes, when you’re having a bad day and don’t feel like going out, the healthiest thing is to make yourself go out anyway, because it will usually make you feel better. But last night I really should have stayed home and watched Sanford and Son. So I guess the moral is that sometimes, if you don’t feel like going out, it’s better to stay home.
So I’ve been going through this phase where I sorta hate dancing. Do you ever feel this way?
I’m not sure what it is.
Part of it is just me. I’ve been feeling old, fat and ugly, and not sure I care one way or another. It seems like a pointless task to try and make myself presentable enough to go out.
Another thing is my dancing. I feel like I take lessons after lessons, but I still dance just as bad as ever. It’s been a long time since I had a really spectacular dance with anyone, and I know it isn’t their fault, it’s mine. Dancing with me must be roughly equivalent to trying to move a grand piano with one broken wheel.
Then when I look around the room, all I see is these kids. Cute young guys dancing with cute young girls, all probably looking to get romantic with someone, and here’s me, this random old married lady. What’s wrong with this picture?
Plus, everybody dances bad. The leads either yank me around all over the place like I’m some kind of sports equipment, or they’re diffident and wimpy, and none of them has any imagination. Then when I try to lead the girls, they’re either as immobile as a tombstone, or they’re leaping around everywhere without waiting for me.
Of course, the DJs are awful. Why can’t they, just once, just for a lark, play a song that actually makes me feel like dancing? It’s always just the same old stuff, over and over.
In other words, I’m depressed.
Well, it happens once in a while. I’ve hated dancing before, and I’ll hate it again. But it never lasts long.
Anybody got any great advice for getting out of dance depression?
I remember the first time I decided I hated swing dancing.
It came as such a shock. For the first couple of years, we’d been starry-eyed in love with each other, through good times and bad. I’d dealt with blisters and tired feet, shortness of breath, getting sweated on and having my arms yanked out of their sockets, and practically putting myself in the osteopath’s office trying to learn the Shorty George. We’d come through it all unscathed, our romance stronger than ever. Dancing was the love of my life, and I just knew we were going to grow old together.
Then we had our first fight.
I remember when and where, I just don’t remember why. It was at the Wonder Ballroom, summer of 2007. I was standing there at the edge of the dance floor, and somehow I suddenly knew I had to quit dancing. Divorce was the only way. It was sad and exhilarating at the same time. I was going to get out of dancing and get back to a normal life.
I walked out of that dance while there were still two hours left, and I went home determined never to go back.
Of course I went back.
I don’t know what causes these bad dancing nights. Sometimes it’s the music. Often it’s my shoes. And occasionally I think it’s just physical exhaustion.
One thing that sometimes ruins me for dancing is taking private lessons. Now, I don’t fork over those big bucks for lessons just so someone can tell me what a great dancer I am. I want criticism. I want the bad things pointed out so I can fix them. Nevertheless, it plays merry hell with the self-esteem. If I start thinking too much about every little thing I’m doing wrong, it’s guaranteed I’ll have a rotten night.
But then I’ll dance with a partner who makes everything all better again. One dance with a dreamboat and I’m right back on track. So dreamboats everywhere, I appreciate you more than I can say. You’ve strengthened my love for dancing and gotten me through the rough times. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Today I really do know that dancing and I are going to grow old together, good nights and bad nights, for better or worse. Dancing is the love of my life, and our love has been tested in the fire.