“Okay, pause for a second,” she says, holding one hand up and gripping her chin with the other. We are frozen mid-step, as the senior instructor walks around to inspect the situation further. “I think I see the problem.” She squints, frowns slightly, nods seriously to herself and then shares a conspiratorial look with our teacher and my wife.
“You’re looking like a T-Rex,” she laughs uproariously, bringing her elbows close into her hips and waggling her forearms frantically. Johanna and our teacher share the laughter. “Extend those arms further,” she says, gently after calming down, “And then you’ll have plenty of space for the turns.”
Slightly embarrassing, yes. But forever after, if our teacher mentions T-Rex, then firstly we’ll share a laugh and secondly, I’ll know instantly the root cause of the problem at hand (or arm).
Chinese philosopher Lǎozǐ wrote that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Our ballroom dancing journey began with a basic Foxtrot forward step (actually, four steps, slow-slow-quick-quick). There was also the basic steps for the Waltz, Tango, Rumba and more. We put on our dancing shoes, left the quiet inn and started a journey through a fascinating, richly textured landscape.
Back to reality…Johanna and I subscribed to dancing lessons recently for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the gym is not for Johanna, dance is an elegant road to physical fitness. Secondly, we love shaking it on the dance floor at weddings, parties, anywhere and a few classy moves would amp things up. Thirdly, it is an appointment to spend time together. Tick, tick, tick on all counts; after a couple of months it’s really working for us.
So I thought I’d share with you my bloke’s perspective on the journey, to encourage you blokes to step up. (All over the world, there is a shortage of men in dance classes (except Irish dancing, according to my mother-in-law)). That shortage is a pity, and a good opportunity for you.
It’s not easy, especially if you’re shy. Our dance school has a Friday night social every couple of weeks. It’s a chance to put what you’ve learnt into practice. But after two weeks, what moves did I know? As the Friday night loomed closer I was a bucket of stress, worried about trying to lead these more seasoned, highly talented women around the floor. In the end, my anxiety was for nothing. People who are already dancing and have been on the journey for a while (hey, that includes me, now), are friendly and welcoming.
Take that first step. I’m fairly certain after a few lessons you’ll be taking the advice of the inspirational quote on our dance school toilet wall and dancing like nobody's watching (out on the dance floor, obviously).
And the flapping Cuban chicken? That’s a story for next time.