To recap, a friend and I decided to expand our social circle by taking up social dancing. Social dancing is a big thing among Generation Y. There are lots of people in their twenties and thirties tripping the light fantastic in Edinburgh. My friend is already an accomplished Scottish country dancer, so she looked forward to learning something new. And although we know very nice people in the local tango community, we thought tango was a bit too dashing. Besides, although I adore Polish tango music, Latin music is not my cup of tea. And as I have tried and discarded both salsa and flamenco in my long, dance-class plagued life, I know whereof I speak.
In fact, your scribe has an extremely low pain threshold for Other People's Music. I have a long list of musical hates and a sadly short list of musical loves. Occasionally a musical love gets shunted over into the musical hate list. I well remember the day I got fed up with "80's Night." I'm not saying I would turn off "Rock Me, Amadeus".... Wait, yes I would.
Auntie Seraphic likes the following: Trance, Techno, Polish tango songs, traditional Polish hymns, Canada's Catholic Book of Worship III, Gregorian Chant, liturgical polyphony, all Bach, all Mozart, all Beethoven, all Chopin, some Verdi, Victorian drawing-room ballads, The Killers, the football anthem "Three Lions", the intro to "Baba O'Reilly", bagpipe rock and liturgical organ music in general.
Auntie Seraphic hates almost all forms of Latin, African and African-American music and almost all the Western folk music she has ever heard, including Irish and Scottish, except in very small doses. Naturally she would fight tooth and nail for the survival of Scottish bagpipes, but that doesn't mean she wants to hear them all the darn time.
Auntie Seraphic has a surprising tolerance for the music of India and Pakistan, for klezmer, for ABBA, for German Death Metal, for jazz and for Big Band music of the 1940s.
Above all music, Auntie Seraphic loves silence.This might amaze South Asian readers, but I once did a very credible dance routine to a song made famous by Monsoon Wedding. My Goan pal almost despaired of teaching me to move my hips properly, but I practiced wiggling up and down my parents' upstairs hallway (where there is a mirror) until I mastered it. Performing a Bollywood dance before a room of cheering Jesuits was, looking back on it, one of the highlights of my life.
Where was I? Oh, yes. Social dancing in Edinburgh. In the end, we decided on swing dancing, in part because jazz and Big Band are two of the musical forms I can stand. And it wasn't until I felt the arm of a complete stranger snake around my waist that I remembered how much I really, really hate being embraced by strangers. I am a woman of many hates, I see.
It's odd. You are told your whole life never to get into cars with strangers, and then you hop into a cab. And you are also told your whole life that allowing yourself to be physically touched and pushed about by strange men is a sin against your dignity, and then you go to dance class. BLAH!
However, you can get used to anything, and a good teacher makes the difference. Last Wednesday I went to a dance class held by two excellent teachers, a husband-and-wife team, and I loved it.
I would not be surprised to hear that everyone loved it, for the excitement in the air was palpable. Not only do the teachers dance amazingly well together, they TEACH amazingly well together. In fact, their teaching routines are like dance routines; one follows the other and "makes it all look nice." This is in total contrast to the kind of "follower" (so far always female) teacher who bosses around the "lead" teacher (so far always male). If there is anything more stupid in dance than the woman who is suppose to teach women how to follow dominating the guy who is supposed to teach men how to lead, I'd like to know what it is.
By the end of class, I realized that I was at long last "getting it". I had also noticed that a chap who had started around the time I did was now a much, MUCH better dancer than he was in October. He was really good, and the thought occurred to me that even I might be have been that good had I gone to class every week instead of hiding at home at the slightest excuse of a sniffle.
So now I officially like the Beginners' Class. However, I still do not like the Socials. The Socials are the two hours of dancing that follow the classes, the opportunity for the real Lindy Hop fanatics to take charge. I am torn between fright that nobody will ask me to dance and between fright that someone will ask me to dance. Either way, fright.
And this is why I am going to a Beginners' Dance Workshop this weekend. I think if I can work my way up from the beginning steps to a Social all in one weekend, I will not be terrified of being asked to dance. It would seem that practice might make perfect.
Here's Fred and Ginger to inspire us all.