Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Our first Ballroom class

I decided to blog about starting ballroom dancing. Maybe I can encourage others to join us. We decided to take ballroom classes for a variety of reasons, I can’t speak for J, but for myself the idea of being able to dance with my boyfriend and know a set of rules that would mean we had legitimacy on a dance floor was pretty appealing.  I used to dance, a lot, shamelessly, and with joy. I did jazz, and ballroom, and ceroc, and musical theatre. I wasn’t wonderful at any of them, but I was ok, and entirely brazen. And then I had an injury and got fat and my world changed. Doing hilarious dance moves badly seemed to have a different response from the world around me. It wasn’t socially acceptable anymore, it was sad clowning. People described my ceroc as “brave” and I got sick of it and left.
movies dance dancing happy charlies angels
My partner is also big, and the two of us have our own issues about our visibility in the world. We don’t talk about the negative stuff, just the positive, keep our attitudes good, and support each other to be ourselves. But the insecurities show in the cracks.  My theory was that if we follow the rules and do the moves well, we DESERVE the dance floor. We will be allowed to take up space. It’s the stupidest thing I have ever typed, but I think it’s important to acknowledge the negative thoughts that occur even from someone actively promoting HAES and body positivity. And it makes me sad. So when I do get out there I am going to do it with flair, I’m going to stay and do some stupid moves. I’m gonna own that space once I get it back.
Because I never should have given it up in the first place.

Our first class was SCARY. I knew the moves, but my body doesn’t move like it used to, and due to med side effects spinning makes me terribly dizzy. J looked a little like I had just put him on a plane to skydive without his permission. Taking the leap to try something new is scary enough, but to try it when you aren’t even sure you will be able to do it is a whole other level of bravery. I am in awe of him. And if you want to check that you are in a loving supportive trusting relationship; go to a dance class together. You both feel so vulnerable it’s a great time to let each other down, or lash out. And when you don’t? Well that’s pretty damn cool.
As for the class, the teachers were FAB. Jeremy would quietly eye up the dancers when he wasn’t showing us the moves, and in the next segment he would highlight a new tip to fix an issue he had noted, and one more person would get it. And he just kept going. No frustration, no focus on any particular person, just patient examples and exercises to help us correct our own mistakes.  “Stomp this footwork this time; that way you will absolutely feel those correct weight changes of your feet… LEFT RIGHT LEFT RIGHT STOMP STOMP STOMP.” It was ridiculous and fun, and the room full of flustered adults laughed at themselves and godzilla’d their way through the fox trot routine.

Not surprisingly we were awkward and wrong footed, and I kept getting distracted with whether J was ok, and missing my own instructions. And then with a bit of practice and someone literally yelling LEFT RIGHT LEFT RIGHT at us, there was a click and we were DANCING. TOGETHER. I knew it would be tricky, but I hadn’t realised the excitement that would flood across me, appreciating that we were actually doing it, within 30 minutes of our first class. I just kept grinning at him “We are DANCING”.
It all seemed worth it, once that click happened.

For those of you who have come to this page because you have googled “WTF do I do at my first dance class”… here are some first week lessons I have learnt.
Tips from a person who has been to ONE class.

It doesn’t seem to matter what you wear at first, so wear what you feel comfy in. I wore jeans that I could move easily in, and a shirt long enough that my tummy doesn’t show if I raise my hands up. My shoes were a pair of comfy boots with a low heel and smoothish sole. At a beginner level your shoes will make bugger all difference, but wear something supportive and comfy, and perhaps with a bit of protection for your feet?

Deodorize, I mean, REALLY. Imagine you are going to work out at the gym and then have to hug all the people there. Take deodorant with you. Take a towel. Take a spare shirt if you like. I got super sweaty.  

Take a water bottle. I got so hot and anxious that my throat felt dry and I was really glad to have water right there. Also, the combo of anxiety sweat and actual heat will mean you will need to rehydrate.

Do what you can to not be smelly – brush your teeth, take mints. …and fart beforehand. The last piece of advice is from J who charmingly informed me he had taken that into account. Cheers buddy, way to make it romantic.

If you have long hair, pull it back. Your hands are both in use dancing. If you are constantly letting go to push hair out of your eyes it will be a pain for you, and terribly distracting for the poor schmuck dancing with you. Remember in a beginner class BOTH people are beginners, and you don’t want to put your partner off.

Don’t wear a sleeveless/backless top/dress. No one wants to touch your sweaty shoulder or back. At least not until class is over. Bare skin is cool for when you are dancing for fun, or with someone who knows you, not when you are rotating through a room full of hot anxious strangers who all have to touch you. I have weird things about touching strangers, and it might just be me, but keep it in mind anyway.

1 comment:

  1. That click. That is why I teach. That I can give someone an opportunity to share my joy; that is worthwhile.


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