The Substitute

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I was not in a good mood heading to my lesson yesterday.  That should be said right from the start.  There is still that fear just beneath the surface telling me I’m not good enough and that I shouldn’t have agreed to do the Big Dance Event.  I’m trying to reset my mind to remind myself that I’m supposed to be doing this because it is fun.  I strongly suspect that when I hit the floor, it will be different.  But, for now, there is this strong sense of “what are you doing?”.

On Tuesday night, Sunny was subbing for Kid T which was supposedly to give me some additional practice in the closed routines but it didn’t go so well.  Kid T has put down a brief list of what we do but there is some subtle variation between what we do and the steps as written so when I hit those points, Sunny was following the syllabus and not what I was leading.  It got so bad that Z was even suggesting she could come help if need be.  We did eventually talk through and figure things out.  See, I don’t know the actual names of some of these steps and I can only vaguely describe my footwork so I’m no help to someone who doesn’t understand it.  And, since I dance primarily by how it feels, there is just a “wrongness” to a new partner that I can’t tell really whether we are doing something incorrect or it is just adjusting to how someone else dances.

So, yesterday, we had a second lesson which was Swing.  Turns out that Sunny had some idea to make my swing look “sharper” which is not a bad thing in and of itself but it involved changing some technique.  Well that just put me in a really bad place.  I’m less than a month out from the Big Dance Event and I’m not going to be dancing this with Sunny so this is not a time where you try and change something fundamental about how I’m doing a dance.  You have no idea how that hits me on so many different levels.  First, it feels awkward and it feels like starting over and I start to race ahead to how many lessons I have left before the event and how I’m never going to have time to master this.  And, if we waste lessons focusing on this little bit, then other parts will go to hell and it will be a disaster.  Then, the other deeper fears started to take over.  Tell me to change something and my mind can leap to the conclusion that I’ve been doing something “wrong” all this time.  In the pre light of day today, I know this is just a refinement but, last night, it was screaming in my head that I’ve been doing something horribly wrong all this time and my swing sucks and everyone sees clearly that I’m just a pretender masquerading as a dancer.  Which just lead to another whole round of the “what the hell am I doing” type thinking.  And to question again and again why I couldn’t have stood up for myself and just said “NO” to the whole dance event.  Yeah, all that was crushing in on me in the first ten minutes of the lesson.  Those things come on fast and it is so easy to just get swept up and overwhelmed by all the bad stuff as my mind makes all these connections which just feeds the doubt and insecurity that lives inside me.

And I did something I’ve never done.  I walked off the lesson without saying anything.  I heard her saying “where are you going” but I kept walking.  I got a drink, went into the bathroom to toss the cup away and went back to her and said “I don’t want to do this anymore”.  To her credit, we moved on to the Quickstep which was hard to focus on because my head was still in other places and I just couldn’t shift gears that fast but we got through it.

Now, call me crazy, but I’m starting to see a pattern here and it feels for all the world like they are setting my up for Kid T’s departure.  This may or may not be real but here are the pieces.  First, why else would they have pushed for me to go to the Big Dance Event and do the routine.  If Kid T is planning to leave before Showcase, then I wouldn’t have had a chance to do this for real except for the mini part we did in studio.  It would have been a repeat of the Argentine Tango I was planning with the Body Double that never materialized.  So, maybe, OwnerGuy figures he’ll just give us our one moment.  It might also explain why OwnerGuy has been dragging his feet on the open routines.  After all, Sunny can’t do them and if the Big Dance Event is the last rodeo, then why introduce something new.  The whole concept of Sunny being a substitute fits with a way of making this a trial run before it becomes official so at least we have some prep work in before the departure.  It might also explain why OwnerGuy keeps telling me how much potential he sees in Sunny and why he was curious about how our lesson went yesterday.  It might also explain why Sunny tells me yesterday that she’s going to have Kid T write down all of patterns so “if this ever happens again”, then we wouldn’t have a repeat of the Fox Trot lesson.  Oh, and it might also explain why Kid T is talking about Showcase or the future anymore.

And, yes, all of this could be for other reasons and could be totally unconnected.  Time will tell.  If I think too much about it, then it gets all depressing because that would definitely force my hand on what to do in the future.  So I’ll just try to push those thoughts to the back of my head and try to focus on the Big Dance Event.  Actually, trying to focus on remembering that, above all, this is supposed to be fun and somewhere, I have to find the fun in among all the fear and doubt.  The reality is that I’m not going to make a quantum leap forward in the short time I have left before the Event.  What I am is what I am – achy knees and all.  No expectations.  Just try to have fun and whatever happens, happens.



  1. Me too on the like. I sure hope you won’t have to go through another teacher change…but you seem to have pretty good instincts about that studio. Would you ever consider an independent comp with Mindy? Just a thought to keep your options open for the future. 😄

    1. Yeah, I think that would be an option. Nothing against Sunny but I’m just don’t want to handle another instructor with a steep learning curve. I’m hoping my intuition is off here but you never know.

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