Monday, July 6, 2015

Day #16: Shake Your Shoes

I'm back! Sort of! At any rate, I'm dropping in for today!

I hope you all had a good Fourth of July. A friend had a pool party, where I was effectively pushed into the pool while still in my regular clothes. I couldn't be too irritated; I've done to a few friends before, too. Then I sat on the roof of our barn to watch fireworks. It was a very clear, warm night out with a surprisingly low number of bugs, so it was ideal. As always, I waxed a little philosophical sitting on the roof. There's something about rooftops that make the world suddenly seem full of possibility and magical. This year was one of the best Fourth of July's I've ever had in a long, long time.

I have mostly been busy with dancing. I've been casual swing dancing for almost a year now, but I decided about two months back that I actually want to get better than okay at it. I'll be honest about my dancing: I'm not bad. I can keep rhythm, I learn fast, I'm getting better and better at being in tune with my lead, keeping my arms stiff (but not too stiff), and trusting my lead. But I still have a lot to learn. I still have to fight myself to not try and anticipate what the lead is going to direct me to do, my arms go floppy sometimes still, my elbow doesn't always go where it's supposed to when being pulled into closed position, and my trust in my leads isn't complete. Granted, this in part does have to do with who I'm dancing with. I have a total of I think four leads who I trust completely, but then I find that sometimes I don't trust myself to know what my lead is telling me to do, so I falter on my moves.

I'm a fair dancer, but I'm not good.

At the same time, of course, when I watch videos of me dancing, I discover that I'm actually not as bad as I think. My footwork on East Coast is actually quite good! My left arm stays where it should in turns and spins, while my right maintains almost the proper amount of tension. But this is why I'm taking Intermediate East Coast classes - to polish all of that. I finished up the beginning lesson last week and took a Charleston class on top of it - and pat on the back, I finally can do the turn through! Which is serious progress. For whatever reason, I couldn't figure the turn through out, even though the mechanics are perfectly simple. Starting tomorrow, though, is the Intermediate class - should be fun!

However, I always get a nice reality check at my Lindy Hop class. Regarded as the most (or at least one of them) athletic, most complicated social dance style out there, I'm far from being even moderately good at Lindy Hop. I've watched videos of Lindy Hop championships and admired the style. It is awesome and fun and exhilarating - and hard. Sure, I have the triple step down; that's the easy part. The very easy part. Perhaps, in fact, the only easy part. Whereas in East Coast swing follows get to be a tiny bit lazy, Lindy Hop is dependent on both. Between the footwork and maintaining proper tension in the arms and back, it's a lot to work on. Last night's class was a lightbulb moment for me in terms of footwork, but now I face the frustrating fact that: I don't have anyone to practice with outside of the class. It's not impossible to practice, but it does make it really hard to work on some things, like tension.

Like starting anything new, I had an idea of how hard it would be in the beginning, but I didn't quite realize how hard it would be. However, that's also part of why I signed up. I enjoy a good challenge, and Lindy Hop is definitely that. I love East Coast, but was perhaps getting a little lazy with it because it is a more relaxed social style. Lindy Hop is keeping me on my toes, constantly reminding me what I'm doing wrong, what I need to fix. It would be a little disheartening, but I never back down from learning something and I know that the more I do it, the more I will improve. And it's been a while since I've undertaken a task that took effort.

But my dancing escapades don't stop there. A friend and I are seriously considering taking Blues on Thursdays - and possibly a mix of dances on Fridays. Because why not? I spent my childhood and teenage years not getting to dance. And now I can; mine as well take all that I can. And every form of dance helps me be more and more aware of myself, and that in turn helps me with all the other dancing I'm learning.

All I can say is: I am so glad I invested in several pairs of dancing shoes!!