Dancers are Different

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I know posting has been light but I’ve been relaxing and my last lesson was on the 22nd so there hasn’t been much to say.  Then, I had one of those random moments that just got me to thinking so you get a little random stream of consciousness for your post Christmas enjoyment.

Was driving around doing some errands with the spouse and was flipping through the Sirius channels (I have a couple of go to stations but I like to graze since you never know when a killer song is going to be on another station).  Well the song “You and Me” by Lifehouse is playing on one of the stations and I instantly stopped and turned it up just a bit.  Now, you don’t really know my musical tastes but they typically don’t run towards this type of soft rock (well I hate that phrase since it seems like an oxymoron) and the lyrics are a bit over the top and I don’t really like the guys voice.  But it is a Viennese Waltz and that just jumped out at me.

I ignored the lyrics and started counting the beats 1-2-3, 4-5-6 just to make sure I could hit all the 1’s.  To be clear, I was doing this in my head so my wife wouldn’t think I was totally over the edge.  Then, I just started picturing the routine and I swear I could feel my body going through some of the moves.  At that moment, all I wanted to do was drop everything, find a dance floor and just cut loose.  But I had to drive home and unload groceries so the moment passed.

And it got me to thinking that this is probably not the reaction that most people have to this song.  I wonder how many of you who are into ballroom have similar experiences.  Perhaps not with this song but with others.  If I was really clever, I’d come up with another 10 or so things that I could title “You know you’re a dancer when …” but this isn’t that kind of post.  I’m sure you have your own experiences but did you ever stop to think about when you crossed a line to becoming a dancer.  Was there a defining moment or just a gradual realization that things were somehow different.

Music is the most obvious example for me because I would sometimes sing along or imagine playing an air guitar or air drum (and playing it badly because I have no real musical skill).  But now the lyrics area secondary.  I’m searching for the beat.  “Where is that one?”  “Is that a slow” and “What could I dance to that”.  Yes, I’ve been known to rush home and google a song and a dance style just to see if I was right or crazy.

I knew I liked ballroom right from the beginning but I don’t think that is the same thing.  At some point, it becomes a part of you.  At some point, it moves from being a hobby or a way to pass the time to something deeper.  I can go a couple of days without thinking too much about it but then a song comes on the radio and I’m all about dancing again.  I’m actually looking forward to Monday when I get to return to the studio.  I’m still on vacation all of next week so it isn’t like I’m looking forward to going to work.  I know this doesn’t happen to everyone – my wife was able to walk away so I wonder if I’m the only one who feels this way.

I have wondered off hand whether ballroom dancing can be addictive.  I’ve tried to describe the feeling I get when I’m doing something and everything falls into place but I can’t really capture it with words.  Perhaps it is that feeling that is what drives us to put up with all the practice and pain (my feet have enjoyed the week off) and frustration that comes with it.  Really, I’m sure some of you have read some of my darker posts and wondered why I would choose to put myself through this but it is the highs that dance offers that more than make up for all the lows.

Or maybe it is just discovering something that I’m truly passionate about.  I suppose others have hobbies that do the same for them – golf would seem to be in the same boat.  There is a golf course near the park where I take the dogs on weekends and I’ll see people lined up to tee off in almost all kinds of weather and I do wonder why they would do that.  And there are those who fly to places simply to golf.  I’m sure they would have some of the same questions to me.  And maybe that is the line between a dancer and someone who just does this for fun or other reasons.  When you do things associated with dance that make perfect sense to you but not to others, then you are a dancer.  And they will never understand because we are different.  (Or maybe it is really just me and I’m totally off my rocker here)

Either way, I don’t care.  I’m am what I am and what I am is a ballroom dancer.  I’m good with that.


  1. Wall – You sir, are slmost certainly a “Ballroom Junkie.” To view the definitive video tretise on the species, Google Confessions of a Ballroom Addict (possibly Ballroom junkie) by Cloud Cray. It’s on You Tube and It’s hilarious. You’ll recognize yourself right away.
    Like you, I cannot hear music without wondering how I would dance to it. I spend a shameful amount of $$ feeding my habit, as do you. I brave icy roads and blizzards to get to the studeo. I dance six days a week. If the studio were open on Sunday, I’d be there then, too. I feel a sense of kinship with other dancers and patronize them preferentially. My masseuse is a dancer, as is my manicurist. Amazingly, I think of myself as a dancer first and writer second, even though I’m much better at the latter. When did I start to identify as a DANCER and not just a person who dances? Pretty early, actually. I agree that identification hinges on passion. For me, finding Ballroom was like coming home.

    1. Marian – I think you are right there with me as a ballroom junkie. People at my studio joke about me having a cot in the back room since I spend so much time there but you’ve got me beat! I like your last line – it fits for me as well.

  2. Very early in my ballroom life, I realized that I was now filtering ALL music through my new “dance awareness”: “Open Arms” is a waltz, “Take It to the Limit” is a waltz, too?!! Whoa!” This was in the late 70s/early 80s. When I crossed that line, I was never again to listen to a piece of music without that dance filter, additionally imagining or not imagining myself dancing to that song whether I ‘liked’ it or not. I think that’s when I became a dancer. When I could picture myself in my head, going thru the step list or a routine, or just free styling in my inner movie. That ability is something that everyone who leads needs to be able to do – visualize themselves dancing certain things. Then you know you can do it. That’s why ski racers walk a race course: we’re visualizing how we’ll turn, where we’ll start the turn, the angle we’ll want to take to attack the next gate, etc. When I lead, versus follow, in smooth, for example, I’m trying to get around the room, people are like dodgem cars going everywhere, I can start something but maybe I can finish that and maybe I can’t because right in the middle of a step, someone/something causes you to abort and go into something else to a)protect your partner b)change direction. You take the step list you know (this really becomes necessary to be a good leader in Silver) even as early as Bronze 1, rearrange the components, and voila, you are dancing. Not spitting out school figures but DANCING. The more you can rearrange your school figures, like the good doctor Frankenstein created his monster – a mishmash of parts from all different things – the better is your understanding of those individual components. There is a current step in the Famous Franchise’s Bronze Tango that I’ve called “Frankenstein” since it appeared on the list. It is 4 components whacked together because someone said “And omg we have to include this, this, this, and this! Where shall we put it? Let’s put all 4 of them HERE!” I swear to god that’s how it came to be. I’m assuming. Have you gotten to it yet? Tell Z one day that it’s real name should be “Frankenstein” and why….hahahahahaha

    1. I believe I know the step you are talking about. I’ll have to remember to call it Frankenstein – that’s a good one. Thanks for the insight about visualization. That is certainly something I can do more of.

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