Thursday, July 7, 2011

the difference a year can make

Fifty one weeks ago, I went to Midsummer Night's Swing at Lincoln Center on a date. I had always wanted to go, and that night they were teaching the hustle, which (as far as I could tell) seemed fairly harmless. It was a second or third date, so I knew the guy a little, but not terribly well, and I was a little concerned about looking like an idiot.

I'm not a great dancer. I'm very white, and I think I might lack a joint or two. But I love to move. Aerobics? Yes, please. Running? Sure, why not. Kickboxing? You bet! So dancing is something I've wanted to do ever since I moved to the city, and (can you believe it?) I've never really been.

So my date (who, I discovered later, LOVED to dance, and probably would have hustled the hell out of the night) wandered around the periphery of the dance floor with me, and we never bought tickets. We mildly shook our booties and kindasorta hustled, but there was really no dancing to speak of.

Had he gone there without me (which, for the record, he wouldn't have), I feel confident that he would have bought a ticket and danced. And I envied him that.

Fast forward 51 weeks. It's Midsummer Night's Swing again, only this time that date is no longer in the picture. I've invited a number of friends to join me for the evening, but none are available. So I go again, this time all by myself. Because I want to be the kind of person who, when she finds herself faced with something she has always wanted to do, doesn't require an escort.

And that same embarrassment, that same reluctance to get up there and move my body crept back in. The gremlin inside kept saying awful things like, "Don't go out there; everyone will know you're alone. They'll wonder why you have no friends. They'll pity you. It's safer to stay off the dance floor. Save your $20. Just go home. You came to the event. That counts. Now just leave."

For easily 15 minutes, I wandered around Damrosch Park, watching the guy give a dance lesson, watching everyone have fun trying to do 80's hip-hop moves (which most of them really couldn't) and envying them. Why couldn't I just get in there and do it, too?

Finally, after WAY more agony than was required, I bought my ticket, checked my bag, and got on the dance floor.

I want to say it felt triumphant, but really, it didn't.

I'm glad I got over my anxiety, I'm glad I put the notch in my belt, and I'm glad that I showed myself that I can do things alone. But I'm also willing to recognize that there are some things that are just more fun when done with people you know or care about. And I think dancing to 80's covers while avoiding the flailing limbs of people even whiter than you might just be one of those things.

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