I frequently find myself telling my children it’s never too late to try something new or that life begins outside of their comfort zone. These mottos led me to purchase a Groupon for a few classes at the local Arthur Murray Dance Studio. At the time, the memory of my husband’s work holiday party was still fresh. “Just follow my lead” were words I heard each time he and I “danced” and my retort was usually something along the lines of “I don’t even know what that means.” I enjoyed myself much more sitting on the sidelines watching those who knew how to move out there. Some seemed so comfortable that they appeared as though they were speaking an unspoken language. Watching them created a desire to feel more comfortable out on the floor where the fun and excitement was happening. I wanted to be like them, but felt it was going to take something more than a few cocktails to achieve.
“It’s never too late to try
something new or that life begins
outside of your comfort zone”
We found ourselves at a newcomer class where most of our time was spent looking down at our feet. We learned some basic steps to the club swing, rhumba and a twirl to the waltz. Initially, I felt less like I was dancing and more like a toddler learning to walk. I remained hopeful and inspired by what I saw around me in the studio. Others who had been dancing 6 months to 2-4 years or more gave me hope that I would learn enough to feel more confident on the dance floor in the future. When we had used up our Groupon, we decided to stick with it and continued our weekly private and group lessons. When I purchased my first pair of dance shoes a few months later I knew this hobby was going to last.
Late fall, our instructor Nadia suggested we enroll in the upcoming Freestyles competition event. She promised it was lots of fun and that it would help us commit to improving our dances. It would also provide us with some feedback from judges. Something about this idea was appealing and so we registered for eight dances, three of which we hadn’t learned yet!
This required us to increase our efforts and time spent in the studio both in private and group lessons as well as in practice parties. With a lot of positive support from Nadia, we started to see ourselves improving and feeling more comfortable with our dances. I finally learned that if I bend my knees it will make my hips move, also known as “Cuban motion.” Because we were not only dancing with each other at Freestyles, but also with our instructors, I started attending some lessons during the day. Wow, if I had realized that was an option before, I probably would have signed up long ago!
I was put on the spot at a studio practice party when my instructor Chris and I were asked to do a student spotlight. This is where we practice a dance in front of the group for all to see. I was so nervous because so many of the audience members were at a higher level than me. I don’t remember hearing the music or seeing anything during the whirls and twirls. Once it was over, I was full of relief and hoped it was not an indication of how I would feel at the competition. If it were, I would never survive my 16 dances!
When we arrived at Freestyles and entered the ballroom, I scanned the room and felt instant ease. The attendees were so diverse ranging in age, ability, and body type. Everyone appeared to be having fun, the energy felt light and airy and camaraderie was in the air. We received our schedule of events and prepared ourselves for our after-dinner rhythm dances. Before I knew it, my husband and I were next on the floor and all the analogies used by our instructors over the course of the last several months were spinning around in my head; “wooden leg”, “bikini on,” “toes in the sand,” “smile”, “have fun!” As we stepped out onto the dance floor the last two were the only ones I remembered and I just had fun! The fear had escaped me…I was outside my comfort zone and I was enjoying myself. Life really does begin here. I hope my children will follow my lead.