Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Not Exactly Lord of the Dance ...

... But Dancing Anyway

Let me confess to being a whole lot happier this Tuesday night than last. While I wasn't exactly Lord of the Line Dance, I did a whole lot better tonight.

It was almost two weeks ago that we invited our neighbours over for lunch. It was time to break the ice, and it seemed up to us to do it. Cuppa offers a fuller account in Steppin' Outside The Box if you wish, but the short version is that they took us to a country dance that night and promoted the line dance a few nights later, exactly one week ago as a matter of fact. The regular country dance had been fine: a small but friendly group and a surprisingly good band. In keeping with my new zeal, we had got up and stumbled around to the slow tunes. That's what I ask her: "Would you like to stumble around with me?" However, Cuppa was especially intrigued with the possibility of line dancing. Years ago we used to catch it on TNN periodically while channel hopping, and it seemed to call Cuppa, but we never got around to trying it ourselves. We were busy at the time, and then it seemed to fade from view — most likely because we didn't have access to TNN any more. D'ya think?

Now, she finally had her chance and was determined to seize it: our chance really because I am forced to admit that it had piqued my interest too. Come last Tuesday we were there: Cuppa, me, about two dozen women, and one and only one other male. That would bother some, but for whatever reason I'm cool with it. In fact, there was a time, a number of years ago now, when Cuppa sometimes led an exercise class in the park on certain summer morns. I was the solitary representative of the male gender at those sessions but, for whatever reason, never felt awkward or conspicuous. Others would, and I wouldn't blame them, but I didn't. I can't explain why because I'm not exactly an out there on the fringes 'look at me' extrovertish kind of guy .

So, come last Tuesday, I was ready to give line dancing a whirl (so to speak). Given my past, which I have discussed at length in the past two blogs — I Was Ten ... and On Missing Out — I was leery, however. For whether by nature or neglect, dancing definitely doesn't come easily to me. I knew that I would find it hard to get the steps. Boy, was I ever wrong! It wasn't hard; it was impossible! For me at least.

It started by the nice teacher taking the newbies, all two of us — Cuppa and me — aside and showing us the steps — to their first and easiest dance: The Electric Slide. Yes, it was supposed to be easy, but I certainly had trouble getting it. However, I didn't know just how much trouble I was in until they actually started the music and everyone gathered on the floor and we started dancing full tilt. I became lost on the very first turn, not on the first group of steps at least, but on the first turn for sure: hopelessly and helplessly lost. I was so confused and befuddled that I was forced to slink off the floor and retire to an obscure corner in an attempt to regain my equanimity and to lick my wounds.

In fact, I felt so befuddled that I had to give up for the night. If I couldn't do the first and simplest routine after much patient instruction, it would be beyond the pale for me to conceive that I could pick up the other routines on the ... well, on the hop, so to speak. So, while, Cuppa took to line dancing like an eagle to the air, easily adapting herself to the routines as she went, I cowered abjectly in my obscure corner.

It wasn't that I was ready to quit although it probably seemed like it at the time; I simply had to lick my wounds and find another path. I can't learn like that. "Here are the steps: one, two, three. Now dance to the music." I need to build brick by steady slow brick: learn the first set of steps, add the second, and practise again and again and again. Fortunately, I'm an online kind of guy. I downloaded the song from iTunes, loaded it onto my iPod, and spent hours in the basement, my iPod in my ear and my feet shuffling on the carpet.

The steps don't come naturally or easily to me, but I persevered. I did that a lot for two days following last Tuesday night — spending many hours in the basement through Wednesday and Thursday. By Thursday night, I more or less had it. That number happened to be danced at the regular country dance that night, and I more or less got it right although dancing amongst others after learning on my own was a bit disconcerting at first.

Tonight, I danced it again, even better this time. And I also danced Changes which I added to my repertoire over the past few days through more and long diligent practise. That one is a little harder, and I made some missteps, but at least I always managed to find my way back into the beat. On line dancing night, they usually both start and end with The Electric Slide, so I got to do that one twice, and it's becoming familiar enough to me that I really enjoyed it. In fact I'm quite pleased with myself. (I thought I'd throw that in, just in case you couldn't tell.)

I still sat out most of the songs, but at least I wasn't smoldering in the corner. With enough practice I might learn the other dances too, but it will take a lot of practise and patience, and with, perhaps, only twenty more years left to live, there may not be enough time for a slow plodder such as I.

We have all heard it more than once. You can't just leave things to the people who are really good at them — if only the best lovers made love, where would you be? We all move in our own directions and at our own pace. For example: while I typed my one blog yesterday, Cuppa made five starts and gave up on hers in frustration. The lady writes well, really well as a matter of fact, but it's harder work for her than me, and sometimes she finds it difficult to concisely articulate her thoughts. Well, I understand that because I'm like that with lots of things, and dancing is one of them. It's hard for me; it takes me much practice, and even then I make wrong steps and don't exactly glide with elf-like fluidity across the floor.

But, for now, I will persist. I will spend time in the basement with my iPod in my ears, practising my steps.

Success is ninety percent perspiration and only ten percent inspiration.

The only failure is in not trying.

Success is moving from failure to failure, without loss of enthusiasm.

Success seems to be largely a matter of hanging on after others have let go.

Me? I'm perspiring freely, trying my best and hanging on enthusiastically.

There's an undeniable sense of accomplishment when we persevere to succeed in that which does not come easily to us. We need to do that, however. It's part of the path towards becoming more fully and richly human.

When you die, God and the angels will hold you accountable for all the pleasures you were allowed in life that you denied yourself.



mreddie said...

Great word picture of you slinking off into an obscure corner, licking your wounds. :) Also of you practicing in the basement with the iPod - Go for it!

Years ago a group of us couples spent a weekend together and we all got roped into square dancing by the recreation director. Felt like I had two left feet and neither were where they were supposed to be at any given time. But all in all it was a hoot - mainly because we were all in it together - sharing the misery. :)

Great post! ec

Valerie - Still Riding Forward said...

I'm another "white girl can't dance" clutz. You have to lead me like a sack of potatoes. I did manage to learn the "Cotton Eyed Joe" and loved it.

Keep at it, people don't do enough group activities anymore to realize the thrill of getting it "just right" as a team anymore and it's sad. It's a great feeling.

When I used to sing with a group and the harmony was so tight, so right, it would give me chills up my spine.

Hope you get some of that kind of rush!

Melodee said...

Good for you! I can't dance to save my life. Well, maybe to save my life, but other than that, uh, no.

Anonymous said...

Way to go A/C !!

and if you don't mind.. here is just one more quote on success:

"Success seems to be largely a matter of hanging on after others have let go."
~ William Feather ~

Gina said...

Hear, hear!

It is always that much more satisfying when you have to work hard at learning something than if it just comes naturally.

Madcap said...

You're so right about the satisfaction of working through things and getting it - finally! I'm working on a newsletter with a software program that was entirely new to me, and after nearly plucking myself bald with frustration the first time round, I'm finding that the second issue is (almost) trouble free. Pagemaker wasn't designed and manufactured in hell after all!

Heather Plett said...

We all KNEW there was a reason you kept that iPod - so you could learn to dance! Michael Flatley - here we come!

Truthfully, I can relate. I have very little rhythm and I married a man who's got it in spades. When we first started dancing together, he kept asking me why I was fighting him. I guess it was a bit of a metaphor for real life - I'm not always comfortable being led!

Bonita said...

I'm glad you 'gave it a whirl' - you will have some fun putting all of this together. (I only dance in the kitchen, when no one is around.)