Saturday, September 26, 2009

In which I dance

Note: Today is my wedding day!  So I figured it would be a good day for this one...

Woman at left is painter Suzanne ValadonImage via WikipediaWhen I was 3 years old, my parents gave me a choice: did I want to take dance class or tumbling.

No contest. Tumbling.

Except it turns out they misread the brochure and you had to be 4 to take tumbling. So I signed up for dance instead.

I started with little kids' tap and ballet. By the time I quit dance at age 9, I was in advanced classes, had taken up jazz dancing, had quit ballet, and stopped performing in the recitals. I was often the oldest in my class, and if anyone was my age or older, she was taking private lessons and competing. I wasn't. I was in it for the fun, and it just wasn't fun anymore. I was wasting everyone's time if I wasn't going to compete, and everyone made sure I knew it, so I quit.

Fast forward a couple years. First I was awkward at middle school dances, convinced I couldn't dance. Then I realized -- they hated me anyway! I may as well try to have fun.

In high school, I only went to a few "milestone" dances. There was usually no one I liked well enough to ask (or if I asked, the boys in question turned me down) and certainly no one asked me. Why buy an expensive dress I'll never wear again just to sit alone in a corner? There's TGIF to be watched, and even that has to be more fun.

By college, I could usually find a date to a dance -- in fact, at certain points it was the lack of dance that was the problem (I still have the dress I was going to wear to the Senior Ball that never existed. Grrr). But it wasn't real dancing. It was shaking it like a middle-class white girl to fast songs and swaying back and forth with a boy to slow songs. There was no creativity, no choreography, and (on the part of the boy) usually very little ease.

I want to dance for real again. I'm sick of grinding because there's no other option, and I don't want to go back to "Prima ballerina or DIE!" I want to enjoy my body and in the process make it healthier.

Good thing I'm getting married, then, isn't it?

After some debate, we signed up for dance lessons.  We're learning some Fox Trot for our first dance, and a bit of Salsa for when we hit the floor later on.  Our instructor is great, and when we practice on our own, we always end up laughing.

But we're both very self-conscious, albeit in different ways.  When we make mistakes while practicing on our own, we laugh, but if we were to go to a club, would we cringe instead?

I'm finding dancing to be that rare creature, the form of exercise I kind of like.  But lessons are expensive, clubs are crowded, and there's no way I'm competing.

It's frustrating, but I think it's worth it.  I hope so.

For all my bad experiences with it, I miss dancing.

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