Every month or so during the school year, the Stanford University Dance Department puts on an event called Jammix. It includes a huge variety of music and dance styles… from schmaltzy tangos to goofy covers of American pop tunes to “Play that Funky Music, White Boy!” to Metallica waltzes (!) and beyond. And all for $2, too!
The talent is equally varied. Given that this was the first Jammix of the season, there were even more newbies than usual, but also quite a few impressively experienced folks (including dance teachers!) in attendance.
The common denominators amongst it all are Fun and Friendliness. Oh, and always at least a couple memorable moments for me :-).
The D’oh Moment
A salsa song came on, and — despite being a total salsa neophyte (I remember about 3 moves) — I decided to ask the woman standing next to me to dance since she looked particularly warm and approachable.
“Hi, I’m Adam” I offered.
She looked at me with a mix of surprise and genuine amusement. “I’m…”
“Anne!” I interjected. Yeah, as in Anne the (at least locally) famous and much beloved salsa teacher that I’ve been acquainted with socially for over a year. She had dyed her hair, and apparently by this Friday evening my brain fuel was running low.
Thank goodness she IS a kind and patient soul, or I would have been even more mortified than I was… asking such a fab salsera to dance salsa AND not recognizing her. And why oh why couldn’t I have asked her to Lindy Hop instead?! :O But luckily I ended up feeling pretty comfortable sticking to the basics during the dance, chatting throughout and catching up with her since we hadn’t seen each other in a few months.
* * *
Of courage and compliments
Despite assurances from nice friends that my waltzing is actually decent, I still am a bit self-conscious about it. So you can imagine how proud I am that I got up the guts to ask one of the most talented women of the evening to dance a cross-step waltz with me. Even better yet, halfway through she complimented me on my dancing and asked if I’d consider being a part of the Annual Stanford Viennese Ball Opening performance group that she’s leading.
Alas, it requires rehearsals twice a week for several months, and given my uncertain schedule for the next while, I sadly can’t afford to make that commitment. But I was quite honored nonetheless, since she obviously liked my waltzing :-).
* * *
Each time I attend Jammix, I always have so many mixed emotions. On one hand, I feel regret (for not learning to dance earlier in my life), I feel a little embarrassment (for being an old fart amongst so many 18 and 19 year olds!*), and — when dancing with beginner after beginner — I sometimes feel frustration or even exhaustion (e.g., waltzing with someone who has no frame or polka’ing with dead weight). But on the other hand, the welcoming atmosphere of openness, of joy, even giddy enthusiasm tends to outweigh the downsides for me. And — unlike sometimes when I’m out Lindy Hopping — I rarely worry whether I’m good enough or popular enough to be asking someone because at Jammix everyone’s just happy to be dancing (it helps, too, that there are often more women than men in attendance… w00t!!!)
Also, seeing so many young people on campus doing something than drinking themselves into a stupor or grabbing each others’ asses at crass frat parties is also delightfully refreshing. And no, these aren’t predominantly freaks-‘n’-losers, either. It’s clear that — along with indeed a bunch o’ geeks (not that there’s anything wrong with that
What a wonderful world, at least this piece of it! And how lucky I am to be a part of it 🙂
* * *
– “Skipping the frat scene: Jammix social dance party” [Stanford Daily newspaper]
* * *
* Regarding the age-thing, my friend Graham said to me at an earlier Jammix: “You may be old, but you’re not creepy old.” Whew 😀