Don’t restrict your adventuring to the weekends.
“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 have put on our dancing shoes, left the quiet inn and started a journey through a fascinating, richly textured landscape.
Back to reality…my wife and I subscribed to dancing lessons recently for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the gym is not for her and dance is an elegant alternate 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.
But we blokes need to step up, literally. 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.
Social dancing is not easy, especially if you’re shy. I was highly anxious before our dance school’s Friday night social (held every couple of weeks to put what students have learnt into practice). After two weeks, what steps did I know? As the 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 almost for nothing. I did step on toes, forgot combinations and crumbled mid-dance, started a Rumba move in the Foxtrot, couldn’t feel the beat. I certainly couldn’t hold a conversation while dancing, I was too busy counting. But it didn’t kill me, and my friendly dance partners even taught me some simple new moves. People who are already dancing and have been on the journey for a while are friendly, welcoming and compassionate.
We’ve chosen the Arthur Murray Dance Centre, in Adelaide’s CBD off Victoria Square, opposite the Central Market on Grote Street. The Arthur Murray dance school franchise has been spreading the love of dance for over a 100 years. There is a focus on technique and gradual introduction of more complex steps through a grading system, and it suits us. Other schools may have different focuses, more on the social aspect of dancing, or specific styles (for example, salsa and swing dancing schools).
Most dance schools offer a first free lesson, so what you need to do is bravely 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 (out on the dance floor, obviously) like nobody’s watching.