40Things: Some things I’ve learned about myself whilst dancing.

A few weeks ago I wrote about my first experiences of going to dance classes, once that set of classes had been over and done with. After it was done I went to a few Lindy Fridays and the chance came up to do a slightly more advances set of classes concentrating on the Swing Out.

I have a pencil sketch of this poster in the living room.

I have a pencil sketch of this poster in the living room.

The course guide says “[suitable for people] who have a solid grasp of the fundamentals of Lindy Hop” which… well, I wasn’t sure, but I felt that jumping in at the deep end when the deep end was available was a better idea than hoping it’d become free at some unspecified point in the future. Better to try than not, say I. With precisely four hours of classes, two hours of big group lessons and a tiny bit of social dancing I ran into doing swing out classes with a bunch of people far, far more accomplished than myself.

Far. More.

This isn’t the gentle stepping around that we did in Fundamentals. This is exercise. If I’d not been doing Parkrun I’d be in a terrible, terrible state at the end of these classes. As it happens I’m going through more water during a 1hr dance lesson than I drink after finishing a 5k. How is that even possible? I’m certainly getting my heart rate up enough to consider wearing a monitor.

I feel like everybody is being very kind to me. I’m clearly the lump, with terrible footwork and a dreadful habit of walking towards partners when I’m supposed to be walking backwards, and I’m pulling with my arm, not my body. We learned a new thing last night, the “tappy annie” (unless I misheard) which I am having tremendous difficulty with and it all went very much to pot quite quickly. It’s quite frustrating as I know what the move should be, I just can’t get my brain to tell the rest of my body the right order, and my muscle memory is really hard to overrule. Clearly this is something I should have learned ten years ago.

My biggest problem, however, is that I’m unable to relax.

One of the teachers told me that I’m trembling when holding a follower. Yes. Unfortunately this is something that I do all the time. I can’t really help it – if you ever watch me drinking from a teacup & saucer, for example, I’m a mess. Occasionally I’m incapable of walking from the kitchen to the living room with a glass of water, and lord help the carpet if I’ve accidentally overfilled a mug of tea. Too much sugar or caffeine and I look blurry. It gets worse if I’m overtired, too.

But this translates as nervousness when holding a follow, and if a lead is nervous a follow is also nervous, which in turn makes me even more nervous. I’m nervous anyway because, yanno, personal space issues as well as wanting to get it right, so in the end I find myself concentrating too much on getting my body to do stuff, on getting my brain to calm itself, on wondering where my feet and arms are, and then my CNS gets all tied up in knots and decides to take a hike. So I’m stiff, unresponsive, not moving right, uncoordinated and my footwork – which was something I could do reasonably well a few weeks ago – goes totally pear-shaped.

As per usual I’m overthinking things. But more importantly I seem to be getting the feeling that I am incapable of just relaxing. Chilling out appears to be beyond me, unless I make a conscious effort to do so and then once chill happens I forget I’m meant to be chilled and my branes just ramp up again. In a dance where being relaxed and calm is one of the big things to getting it right this is not a good thing at all.

So, those of you who know me; do I seem calm on t’outside? Is the look of someone with it and as well-balanced as a gyroscope being passed off ok? Because I feel like I’m keeping it together, but being more in touch with what my body is doing makes me think that I’m not.

(And now we’re descending into solipsism, so I’ll stop here with the introspection.)

Anyway, the second batch of Lindy classes finishes next week; again, I feel like I need much more practice at it. I enjoy what I do, I’m just very aware that I’m not doing it right, which makes it less enjoyable for others.

Oh well, I’ll get there in the end.

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1 Response to 40Things: Some things I’ve learned about myself whilst dancing.

  1. Clan Wallis says:

    mike its about time to enrol in tai chi. xx Dad

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