Sunday, March 28, 2010

13 -- Once Again

dancing lesson

While I didn't take out any toes last night, I think I managed to wear out a few partners. I was the only complete novice and until I began to get the hang of things, it must have been a challenge to dance with me. I'm tall, have a long stride, and honestly, I didn't know whether to lead, follow, or get out of the way.

The setting was a typical dance studio in the downtown arts district such as might be seen in White Knights (1985) or Fame (1980, 2009), with floor to ceiling mirrors on both sides of a wooden floor. Never having been in such a place, I didn't realize how helpful it would be to see your reflection as you practiced the steps. It didn't help to be reminded of the extra pounds I've been trying to shed -- or maybe it did, depending on how you look at it.

The instructor was a delightful, energetic fellow with personality to burn. I wasn't certain what to expect from a group lesson, but he's a good teacher and as I walked through Whole Foods afterward, I found myself wanting to practice what I'd learned, though dancing down the aisles seemed a little premature. Gene Kelly could have gotten away with it, but I'm not quite ready.

Most of the students were within range of my age group, but at the dance party that followed, younger partners showed up and I suspect they're from more advanced classes. Figuring I'd done enough damage for one evening, I gave the instructor a thumbs-up and slipped out the door. After I've had a chance to practice, I'll stick around to strut my stuff.

There's more to this scenario, however, than being comfortable with the skills. At the point in the evening where I would have had to ask a woman to dance, I was no longer an adult who had dealt with violent psychiatric patients, coauthored a book, and was now a medical student. I was a thirteen-year-old ninth grader, only this time with no female classmate to come to my rescue (see 12/3/09). Yes, I'll feel better once I'm more confident, but my task is isn't merely to become more proficient on the dance floor. It's to become more comfortable being myself in a setting where I might prefer to run, not walk, out the nearest door. And that's going to take some practice, too.

Oh, by the way, I had fun last night, a lot of fun. My life has become so insular lately, I'd almost forgotten how good it can actually feel being 13 -- once again.

(Creative Commons image by Jerry Daykin via Wikipedia)
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