Dance to Forget

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The other day I was talking about how turmoil at work can influence my dancing.  Wanted to expand on that a little more.

Ballroom is tough on you.  It is a physical challenge that can become a real sweat fest (especially if the studio temperature isn’t set at frosty conditions).  If you walk into a ballroom and aren’t cold, you know it is going to be bad since the act of dancing is going to make you hot and sweaty.  Sometimes, that is a good thing because, like hitting the gym, just the physical activity can be enough to make you forget about all the crap that happened that day.

Now, toss in learning some choreography and then it becomes a mental challenge.  Think of each lesson as a test and you’ll have it about write.  Even when it is open book and the steps are right there, it can still be a pain.  “Does the Sugar Tuck come after the whip?”  “Is this a left side pass or a right side pass here?”  “Do I turn you here?”  At some point, I have to get the steps down so I can visualize the routine over and over in my head.  But it can’t just be simple memorization of the steps because there is all that technique that comes with it and the things that you need to do to make the steps come alive.

Oh, and let’s not forget the music.  It is one thing to do the steps to the instructor’s count.  It is quite another when the music comes on and, the first couple of times, it is so fast and the steps are supposed to just come right after the other.  You pause for even a minute to try and remember something and, boom, you are off time.  Sometimes it is easily correctable, sometimes not so much.

Again, if my mind is tired from working, then dance can actually be a welcome retreat.  Yes, it still strains your brain but there is no room to think about the stack of reports and unanswered email that awaits you in the office the next day.  For that lesson, dance is the world and is all that matters.

The problem with turmoil is that it hits me emotionally.  I suppose if I just kept my head down and tried to just get on with life, I wouldn’t be impacted.  But, my job at this moment is to fight for me team while, at the same time, trying to be honest with them while not diminishing the passion that exists.  It is a very fine line but it requires me to be “on” most of the day.  I can do that but it is draining.  As an introvert, I’ve learned that I have a limited amount of energy to expend on interactions.  When it gets low, it becomes far too easy for the emotions to take over.

And, that is the third leg of the dance thing.  It can be way too important for me to do well in dancing and my inner perfectionist can surface to point out all the things I’m doing wrong.  It sucks when you are learning because, when you are learning, mistakes are going to happen.  When you are learning, the steps aren’t going to come to you naturally.  When you are learning, the dance isn’t going to flow and there are going to be the start/stops.  All of this is natural and normal and part of the process and it is something that I can work through.  But, when the emotions take over, well then all bets are off and it becomes way too easy to give into the dark side where I’ll never be a good dancer and where I’m really just wasting my time and the instructors time and where I should just leave the dance floor to those who deserve to be there.  That side of me is always there.  On good days, I can keep the door closed and keep that side where it belongs.  On bad days, the worlds collide and that world seeps into mine with consequences that you’ve read about from time to time.

Yeah, none of this is especially new but it is worth going over from time to time.  Tonight had the potential to be a bad night because work today wasn’t the best.  And there were mistakes galore in both the West Coast Swing and Salsa.  I still don’t have either routine down yet and I’m still really trying to “feel” the Salsa.  At it’s best, I know it can be a really fun dance because if you get the arm moves to be second nature, it will just look like continuous motion and things will just flow.  But it takes time to get there.  Today, I was able to treat this lesson like the practice session it was.  The mistakes didn’t really get me.  Forgetting steps or doing them out of order wasn’t a problem.  Neither dance really “feels” right to me but, for that one night, none of that mattered.

We added new stuff to both dances.  We worked on the new stuff.  We ran through the old stuff.  We put it all together.  There are rough patches but I can see signs of things coming together.  It was tough and I’m tired now but, for that time, no thoughts of work entered my head.  There was only dance.  And that’s when it can be a real cure for a crappy day.

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