Friday, February 2, 2018

Learning to Dance: Swing, Part 1: Remember the Curve

Swing, Toronto, Canada. Summer 2016.

One of my goals when I moved to Louisiana was to learn to dance. I wrote a series about my Louisiana dance-learning experience:

Learning to Dance, Part 1: Solving for X
Learning to Dance, Part 2: The Tao of Following
Learning to Dance, Part 3: The Pause
Learning to Dance, Part 4: Signals
Learning to Dance, Part 5: Anticipation

Swing, Toronto, Canada. Summer 2016.

When I moved to El Paso, I intended to learn salsa, and I made some attempts at getting into the dance scene, but it didn't happen.

One of my St. Louis goals was to learn swing dancing. This post inaugurates the story of my progress.

Via a meetup group I joined, I began weekly swing dance lessons at the Moolah Shrine in one of St. Louis' bajillion cities that cluster around actual St. Louis: Creve Coeur. Or maybe Maryland Heights. Or Bridgeton. It's a toss-up.

West County Swing Dance Club hosts the Tuesday-night dance, which includes an hour-long lesson before the dance begins. There are different lesson groups, which range from beginner to advanced.

I began at Level 1: Beginner. In fact, I did three weeks at the beginner level before moving on to Level 2, which is where I am as I write this post.

Swing, Toronto, Canada. Summer 2016.

On learning swing, I am re-learning lessons I thought I knew, both in dance and life:

Learning a new dance means making mistakes, looking stupid, feeling lost, feeling impatient with myself. I must remind myself that this is normal. I'm supposed to make mistakes, look stupid, and feel lost. I don't need to feel impatient with myself. Instead, I must remember the cardinal rule of dance: Have fun!

My tendency to move too quickly, to forget the importance of the pause - the importance of letting a process unfold rather than push toward the destination, to relax into the moment, to savor the act - remains.

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