I went dancing last Friday, after work and circus, vintage scarf fastened around my neck.
About an hours’ drive from my house is a great swing scene–great music, great leads, great floor (<–note the dance-speak. Yes, we talk about floors. And this is a pretty nice floor–slick, shiny wood). And I was wearing red, red lipstick. My mom laughed at that and told me to have fun.
(I should note right here that I called the long-distance boyfriend on the drive down so, yeah, he's neglected but not 100% neglected. And he knew I was dancing. You can pray for him.)
The floor was scattered with both friends/ acquaintances and new faces.
Oh, and one new face in particular.
After a song ended, I stood on the floor, gathering my breath and brushing some sweat from my temple when I felt a hand on my shoulder blade. I turned around and saw a new face smiling at me, his hand outstretched and his voice an inviting, “Would you care to dance?”
So I said, “Sure.” And the music started. And we started. And HE started, this thin bearded-man with slick, white shoes.
Within seconds of the song I knew–this wasn’t homeboy’s first rodeo. The song was fast–and I love me a fast song–but his feet were even faster. His movements were quick and blithe–hitting, responding to, working with the beats. His feet flashed and flared–showy but controlled. We danced a Lindy hop–known for it’s fast, revolving motion–and he covered and recovered our floor space. He was everywhere and always, always collected. He must be a competitive or professional dancer. He must. His steps and leads betrayed him. I did my best to keep up, my best to hit all of the beats with vigor, my best to respond to his dance-led nudges. It was fun and exhausting and humbling…all at once.
And then, after the song, we thanked each other for the dance. And…he left. I didn’t see him or his white shoes again for the rest of the evening.
Now, I’m not writing this because I wanted to take you guys on a thrilling rom-com journey (although, if you want that, take me out for gluten-free pizza some time because I have STORIES, ya’ll) (or, actually, don’t) BUT RATHER because I was thinking about this guy (“Chris”? Honestly, I don’t even remember his name) and how much better he was at dancing than I am.
Here’s the thing, people often ask me, “Where did you learn to dance?” and the most-true answer is this: from the guys I dance with. Because, sure, I’ve been to classes, but the best, best way to learn something is to practice it over and over again. So, I’ve found that it’s not necessarily the teacher who says, “Oh, and point your foot!!” but, rather, the guys who try to lead me through a pattern, and then I screw it up and say, “I’m sorry, try again? :D” and then they lead me through it slower, more deliberately again and again, kindly, until I get it. It’s the better-than-me guys who dance one song with me, and then, later, another, until I’m more quick to respond.
And, again, this scene I visit has very good leads. But, if we were to tread into simile territory, we were all singing the ABC’s, but this guy was busy cranking out Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.
Anyway, dancing with him made me realize something. Generally speaking, I’m a pretty good follow (oh yeah. Terminology-time! In social/ ballroom dancing, the couple is broken into two roles: the “lead” and the “follow.” “Lead” is the one leading (duh), and is usually danced by a dude. The “follow” is following the lead’s signals, and is usually the woman.). I love following and it’s not hard for me to have a good time with all of the leads, and it’s not uncommon for me to be approached by great leads and asked to dance.
And great leads I have, they’re scattered around this community.
But, dancing with this guy made me realize: I’m only as good as the guys I dance with. They’ve taken me to their level, but not much higher.
And, I mean, kudos to them and I appreciate the times we’ve danced and all the things they’ve taught me. I have nothing but fond memories.
BUT. But. But but but. Now I know: there are even better guys out there. And I have so, so much still to learn!
And I kind of thought about how this applies to standard-life, too, as opposed to just hobbyist dance-life. Like, there are people who will push you to better experiences, encourage you to deeper life, inspire you to try harder and to push yourself farther and to always, always improve. Sure, it’s not everyone. But, there will be some. So, try to find those people. Try to talk to them or read their articles or see them when you can.
Think, right now, of a singular person who is just heads and tails more kind or more generous than most of the kind people you know. And then, say a prayer of thanksgiving. But, in the next few years, try to see him or her again. Try to share a meal and thoughts. Appreciate, imitate, emulate!
Live, grow, learn…and then live more and better!