On the Outside Looking In

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So this little post was going to be about the studio party last night which didn’t turn out so well and then something else happened during the day that had a loose connection so I thought I’d tie the two together and see what happens.  Don’t worry, the party was a bummer but I’m still feeling good.  But I wanted to share more about how some of these things hit me.

I was in a conversation with a group of guys at work and, don’t ask me why, but the subject turned to battery chargers since there was just a recall on one brand and they were all talking about which ones they used and so on. And then it got into a conversation on building decks and other power tools. I just nodded from time to time but this is not a conversation I can contribute to. I figured I wouldn’t get a lot of traction if I started talking about my last dance lesson.

I’ve had many times where I’ve felt like an outsider who doesn’t really fit in and so this was just another example. I don’t do a lot of traditional “guy” stuff. I hate home improvement activities. I don’t have a workshop or a man cave. I have just a couple of power tools. I could care less about cars and fixing them. When I’m outdoors, I’m there to enjoy nature and not to fish or hunt.   I like to cook and I dance as a hobby. I do like baseball and football so at least I’ve got that going for me.

And I’m starting to accept that I feel things deeply – maybe that is not unusual but guys aren’t supposed to be sensitive. I can’t explain why things impact me but certain things do. I’ve gotten choked up at certain movie scenes and even certain pop songs. No, I’m not going to tell you which ones because I’m not ready to be THAT open. I’ve never enjoyed slasher movies or those nature scenes where they show an animal taking another one down. I get the whole circle of life thing but I’d rather remain naïve to what actually happens and I always unsuccessfully root for the prey. I read a story about an abused animal and it stays in my mind for a long time.  It is only the logical part of my mind that keeps me from adopting every stray pet I see.

Again, I suspect I’m not alone in this but conversations like that do make me feel more like an outsider.  Sometimes that feeling just hits for other reasons and that is how the party ended for me and why I left early.

So now we come to the party last night. First, I should say that I had a good lesson with Kid T where we did the West Coast routine and she changed the beginning to make it flow a little better. I’m happy with it so far; I think it will be fun.  I’m starting to see that she is more of an instinctive dancer.  The Body Double was very technical when something went wrong and could give me something to work on.  Kid T seems to sense something was wrong and I can see her thinking about it but most times she just wants to try it again before speaking up.

Group class was large, noisy and chaotic. Z was teaching and she had to yell a couple of times since the music was loud and people were talking and not paying attention.

And I need to tell you about my group partner.  I don’t want this to sound mean but I have to be honest.  Just out of curiosity, are there any dancers at your studio that you really don’t want to dance with??  Well this lady is kryptonite for me.  She’s been dancing for several years and is in advanced Bronze but she overthinks every step.  She doesn’t try to feel the lead – she just forges ahead to do whatever she thinks she needs to do.  At group class, it isn’t all bad because she knows her part but at party, when she doesn’t know what’s coming, her responses can be totally random events.  More on that later.

So I’ve got her to start with for group class and it was a little cha-cha pattern that wasn’t tricky.  One step was a triple progressive which always moves in one direction.  The problem is I was moving forward and she started moving backwards.  I don’t know why but then she was off and missed the last step.  She talked about being off and I can tell she gets super frustrated when she doesn’t get it and I tried to be helpful by pointing out what I saw but it didn’t matter.

Anyway, the party starts with a cha-cha and I’ve got my designated partner but she’s got other things on her mind and she’s having an off night. At one point she slipped out of my hold and was spinning away which is not really a cha-cha step. OK, so the first dance didn’t go so well. Well, I got the new instructor next and tried to lead some advanced Bronze stuff in Rumba and that was also problematic. So the evening starts off in a hole.

Then, I get my group partner for a Tango.  I swear I don’t want to crush her soul so I try to forge ahead and just deal with what happens.  I’ve lead a step where I get the lady into shadow position a boatload of times with other women and nobody else has ended up in a strange position with their arm around my neck.  No matter how much force I try to use, she fights even harder and ends up in some awkward position.  Eventually, I just give up and do basics.  I know this also frustrates her because she’ll say things like “I’ll get it next time” and I’ll try to say things like “it doesn’t matter”.  But I’m pretty sure my face or something else gives me away.  I really, really do try but I’m sorry I really don’t like wrestling with her down the dance floor.  I mean, I’m not a dance instructor and there are things she should really know by now.  Anyway, I know I should be more tolerant but it is hard.

Well the reason I ended up dancing with her so much is that all the couples were coupling and not mixing so that took most of the party out. Hilde was there but she kind of attached herself to M-Dawg which I can understand because he’s young and fun but he really should have been mingling more. Kid T was there and we danced a hustle once but I couldn’t hear the beat so my timing was off and she made a comment. And then she was dancing most of the rest of the night with the other solo guys so my options were limited unless I wanted to break up a couple and they really weren’t giving anyone a chance to cut in.

Oh, and the music sucked as well. I get that as a dance instructor, you probably hear certain songs so many times that you are sick of them. I also get that you select a variety of songs to appeal to a variety of people but to also show them that there is a wide variety of music you can dance to. But, too often, it appears they just select music they like and then try to shoehorn a dance into the music.

My other problem with the music is that there are certain songs that just don’t “feel” like the dance they are supposed to be even when the timing and beat are right. For some reason, “Kokomo” by the Beach Boys seems to be a popular choice for Rumba at our studio. I know you can Rumba to it because I’ve seen videos of people doing that but I don’t associate the Beach Boys with a Rumba. So I’m struggling with the music and trying to feel the dance, struggling to hear the timing and struggling with my partner who wants to do whatever she feels like.

On top of it, my knee was hurting and my feet were sore. If I was having fun and feeling the music, I can dance through that. If I’m having a sucky time, then that just makes it even worse.

Oh, and I forget another fun part. I’m doing a Fox Trot with my designated Cha-Cha partner who is in Silver and OwnerGuy screams at me to “do some silver”. I don’t like being observed at parties even though I know they do it. So I tried and it was “meh” and didn’t really leave me wanting to do more.

None of these is really a big deal. People mess stuff up all the time. But the combination of things just sucked all the fun out of it. So I did what I like to do when it gets to be too much, I ran to the bathroom at the end of the song and waited until the next song started to come out so everyone would be paired off and then I sat and watched. From what I could see everyone was having fun and that’s where the whole outside thing hit me. Even though I was in the studio, it was like there was this wall and I was watching the fun go on but I was permitted from coming in to participate.

But I realized my mind wasn’t in the right place and I figured I had already done enough damage so I decided to just leave way early.  I told people it was because my foot was acting up (I did have a callous scraped off my little toe earlier in the day and the dance shoes were irritating it) so I didn’t technically lie.  I just didn’t tell the whole truth.  I do have another lesson tonight so I may have to practice my excuses again.  OwnerGuy seems to take it personally if someone leaves early so his radar goes off and he needs to figure out why.

I guess every event has some kind of “vibe”.  Sometimes, when the music and crowd are right, I have a blast.  Some nights are like last night and not fun at all.  The good news is that I’m not in any sort of bad place here.  It was a bad night.  A series of little things just got amplified in my head and created this big negative vibe that I just didn’t feel like fighting.  There will be other parties.


  1. I kind of don’t recognize you if all this can go “wrong” and you are still in a good place mentally! Congrats, my friend! I hope you can also see how much you have changed for the good! Yay! 🙌

    1. You know it really helps when you are able to break free from someone who kept bringing you down. Makes it easier to see that a bad day is just a bad day and nothing more.

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