Don’t you love it when stuff just clicks?
I take Lindy Hop lessons every Thursday from two of the world’s top swing dancers, and afterwards, I generally stay for their three hour dance party. Sometimes I stay because I just don’t want to go home, not because I’m having a particularly stellar night.
But last night, my dancing just seemed to click into place. I was having fun. My partners were enthusiastic. And I was feeling MUSICAL!
It didn’t hurt that I got very high compliments from two respectable follows, either.
One of them was shocked to hear that I had been dancing for just a bit over a year. “It seems like you’ve been dancing, well, maybe three years!” she gushed. When I told her at the end of the dance that it had been (honestly) a pleasure dancing with her, she responded, “Please ask me again!”
Another follow asked me for a third dance during the course of the evening, and apologized humbly saying, “I don’t mean to monopolize you, but you’re so much fun!”
That, indeed, is one of the top compliments you can get from a follow in Lindy Hop… anything with the word “fun” in it. That, and being asked for additional dances 🙂
* * *
It’s only recently that I’ve been finally reaching that point where I can play with the music, move my body a bit more gracefully, and lead with more assertiveness and confidence. In fact, it was merely a few months ago when I mercifully crossed over a particular line… when Lindy Hop became filled with more regular joy than regular stress… stress over whom I could ask to dance, stress about whether my partner was enjoying spending a three minute eternity with me, and so on. Now I’m finding more things to smile about… compliments, achievements (wow that double spin was smooth!), and an increase in the number of love affairs, at least on the dance floor.
Yes, it’s about loving each other for those three minutes… connecting with your partner… forgetting about everyone else (well, aside from watching out for collisions ;-)… and just sensing your partner, their movements, and how you balance and move together. It really is a kind of love that’s hard to describe unless you experience it.
It’s also about loving yourself, as crude as that may sound out of context. Earlier in the evening last night, I had actually made peace with the realization that I was never going to be a Lindy Rockstar.
“And that’s okay!” I told myself. And I think for one of the first times in my life, I really believed it. I could still enjoy dancing, and — of equal importance — women could still enjoy dancing with me with all my special nuances and quirks and foibles and “special” moves and all. I could still be somebody on the dance floor — myself — and be happy with that.
Sure, I had grown used to being a “Rockstar” in academics when I was younger… a Rockstar in music… and in many other things I set my mind to.
I just didn’t — and don’t — have a natural brilliance in dance. It’s not me. But I can accept that.
I wonder if it’s perhaps more than irony that I had some of the best dancing in my life when I finally learned to accept my dancing for what it is and what I’m capable of.
Of course, I don’t plan to just rest on my laurels. I will continue to practice, to improve, to push myself. But the goal will be to better myself… not in comparison with others (because they will get better, too, and always be ahead of me), not in comparison with an official yardstick (can I win competitions? can I do four spins in a row?) but rather, what can I learn that makes me happy?
Because once dance stops making me happy, that’s when I’ll stop dancing.
But as I wrote in a journal entry perhaps half a year ago, I just hope that day never comes. Music and movement… beget some of the greatest joys one can hope to have 🙂