There are many times that I don’t really know how I feel about something until time passes. Or maybe a less awkward way to say it is that once the first impression fades, sometimes something else surfaces. That’s what I’m going to write about today.
I’m walk a fine line between idealism and cynicism and I’ve allowed myself to become sort of jaded about certain parts of the dance experience. I know I didn’t see the whole check out thing as important and I also started to see others move up who didn’t seem to be worthy and it made me question the real value of it. I guess I just needed to go through it and also to watch others do the same thing to get a new appreciation.
The studio makes a big deal out of it and there is a reason for that. It matters. Let me ‘splain.
Think of all the people who sit on their couches watching Dancing with the Stars and think about how much fun ballroom would be but never get off their couches to get into a studio to give it a try.
Think of all the people who attend an open house or get a free introductory lesson or get a gift certificate for a few lessons and think it would be fun but never sign up after the initial visit.
Think of all the people who start but fade along the way.
I’m not criticizing anyone for their decisions. Dancing is expensive. Dancing is hard. Dancing is a commitment. It isn’t for everyone. Life takes different paths. I know a couple who started a family which is a good reason for stopping dancing. Sometimes, an instructor leaves or a studio may even close.
And, yes, my life circumstances are a bit different. But that doesn’t make this any easier or less expensive. It takes a lot to stick with this. Dancing only gives you a few moments of potential glory and to get those requires long hours of practice and repetition and frustration. Ballroom will test you. It will probe for your weak points and attack when you least expect it. It wants all you have sometimes and, even then, that isn’t always enough. Do you know how many hours of practice it takes to make a minute plus routine look smooth and polished? There is a lot of hard work that goes into learning the patterns and the technique and the timing and pulling it all together. Add it multiple dances and you’ve just multiplied the amount of time and work. Checking out of a level means something! It is a tangible accomplishment and something that it is OK to feel a little pride about. It matters.
I tend to cringe a little bit inside when people ask me how long I’ve been dancing. I actually get a little embarrassed about it because I wonder what they will be thinking. People ask me about various television shows and I can never participate because I spend most nights at the studio. Sometimes I feel a little out of place and weird because I’ve got this obsession that few can really understand. But that’s really the wrong attitude. Ballroom is not some little thing I do on my off hours. It is something that is inside me. It is a passion. Every time it throws something at me and I don’t buckle and quit, it is an accomplishment. It is something I want to live and feel and continue to experience. And every marker along my journey that shows I’ve reached a certain place is important and it matters.
I’m going to have to cut some people a little more slack. I watched that couple I talked about check out of Bronze I. I watched them (mostly her) freak out on practices before. I saw Kid T and OwnerGuy giving them pep talks at the party on Thursday. I watched this guy who I can tell is full of his own demons try to lead Kid T during his check out while the rest of the floor was amateur ladies checking out with pro male partners. So I watched his face as he tried to maneuver around them and I bet he was judging how he looked. And I realized that the two of them are scared s***less but they are out there facing their fears and dancing to the best of their abilities when the only reward is a little certificate. It doesn’t matter how well they can dance. It matters that they are out there when so many others who think they are interested but never find the time or make the effort to try ballroom. That’s why it matters.
(I warn you here that I’m about to get a little weird)
Something else kind of struck me about this whole check out and it is a concept I’ve sort of explored before. So much of the joy of ballroom is how it makes me feel. It is something I internalize. I think that is part of the reason I tend to lock eyes with Kid T at various events. It is so we can share the moment just with ourselves. It is because the emotions I feel are so private and I don’t want to share them with the world.
But, without sounding overly egotistical, I’ve got a gift. I’ve got a certain talent level. If I can make that one guy who never seems happy when he’s dancing break into a big smile just watching us, then I’ve got something I should be sharing with others. So maybe it is about finding more ways to add some flourishes to what I’m doing. To find ways to express things a little more. To find ways to share the emotions with others rather than keeping them to myself. To some extent, I probably do this already but it is something that perhaps could be explored more fully. I’m reading this again and it just sounds a little weird so I’m pretty sure I haven’t captured this appropriately but I’ll just leave it in for now.
To ground this, I know I’m no professional and I’m not saying that I am. I also know that there are plenty of other amateurs who are better than I am. Just not at our studio. And, as a student, I can be the example of what might be attainable. That’s what I think I was trying to say.
I’ll stop for now before I continue and embarrass myself further. Its just that things like this tend to kick up all the dust in my mind and it takes a bit to settle.