Who am I? Why am I here?
Well I’m not going to give you a lot of personal details just yet. I prefer to remain behind the curtain for right now. What I can tell you is that I’m married and gainfully employed for a large company in a large mid-western city where I manage a group of around 14 people. We have no kids but three mixed breed dogs. Two were adopted from a local organization that fosters dogs and looks for permanent homes and the third was a stray who showed up one day in our backyard. I have a soft spot for dogs and especially for hard cases. We did a pure bred puppy as our first dog but I decided that there are too many adult dogs that need homes so we’ll go with mixed breed rescues from now on.
Many years ago, my wife talked me into going to a ballroom dance lesson. It was something we had talked about for several years but she was in a management training program at the time where one task was for everyone to do one thing they always talked about but had never gotten around to. She was committed to doing this but I waffled right up until the last moment so they didn’t know if it was going to be a couple or just a solo until I walked in. We got very lucky by getting a low key instructor who was very detailed which is exactly what we needed given that we are both have math degrees. I was hooked from the first lesson. We progressed through full bronze and started doing some silver and met a lot of nice people at the studio and eventually it grew into a little group that went dancing at other places on weekends. It was great fun but wearing heels and doing rise and fall was too much for feet and they started hurting all the time. Also, she had progressed as far as she wanted to and she decided to give it up.
At roughly the same time, our original instructor was opening a new studio with his wife who had just started working with us. The new studio was a longer drive but I wasn’t ready to give up dancing just yet, so I started as the first student in the new studio. My wife came for their opening night and that is the last time she has set foot in a dance studio. Honestly, I didn’t know why I was continuing or what I wanted to do so we just basically started back at the beginning to go over some of the variations I had missed and also added a new dance – Tango. My wife wasn’t fond of Tango but it was interesting to me so I started over with that. It was fun to watch the studio grow in fits and starts and to see the pattern of new students starting and some continuing while others dropped out. There were a couple of holdovers from the old studio like me who stayed with it for awhile.
Finally, my instructor talked me into doing a showcase which is a event where several local studios get together for a day of dancing. It is not a real competition since you don’t get placements but rather get critiques from the various judges. Still, it is run like a competition with heats and all the guys get to wear numbers. There are also individual solo routines scattered throughout the day so we worked up a simple Rumba routine. My wife was never into showing off and danced purely for social reasons so we never did one of these events and this was my first time. I remember my leg actually shaking as I lined up to do the Rumba but something about the event struck a chord with me and I was totally hooked.
We did several other showcases and they were getting better and better but something was holding me back. I had been overweight for most of my life and it was taking a toll on me knee. My mother had severe arthritis and has had both knees replaced and I think I got those knees and the weight did not help. It also didn’t help that I’d be sweating like a pig after almost every lesson or after just a couple of heats in a showcase. So I finally decided to do something about it and two years ago, I dropped about 120 pounds through diet and exercise. I fight the battle every day to keep the weight off and to stay active but the benefits have been amazing. I still struggle with some self-image issues which will show up as a topic from time to time, but I have started to adjust to my new body and, everyday, I realize just how unhappy I was being fat. I am a lot more positive and optimistic and just happier than I’ve been in years.
Don’t know if it is coincidence or not but my marks at the various showcases seemed to be highly correlated with the weight loss. I do know that doing the last three showcases has been much easier without the weight and because I’ve done other things to improve my endurance and strength. The showcases have become my day to shine and something I look forward to.
Now, why am I here. Well, I started the blog as I was preparing for a true competition which was going to be my first so I thought it might be fun to capture my experiences. I had never paid much attention to technique before because I thought learning steps was what dancing was all about. Let’s just say that the competition was an eye-opening experience for me. There were many lows along the way because it played on a lot of my fears because, even though I love showing off, I only love it in safe environments. Otherwise, I am an extreme introvert and will sit in a corner and not talk to anyone under times of extreme stress. I always feel awkward when forced into small talk so I end up avoiding it whenever possible. Prepping for this event also dredged up some body image issues that I hadn’t fully conquered yet.
The worst part of it was getting into some really ugly arguments with my instructor. We’ve always had a interesting and somewhat volatile relationship most of which I now realize is all on me.
But I survived and even though there were some very unpleasant moments during that weekend, I think it made my stronger.
I still struggle with self-confidence and when I’m introduced to a new step, I have a tendency to go negative and just assume I can’t do it. If I dug deeper, it is really a fear of looking stupid which is related to the body image issues I’ve had my entire life. I want to realize my potential which will only happen if I can keep the negative parts under control and accept that I’m not the same person that I was when I started and that I can do everything they throw at me.
Basically, in doing this, I’ve finally realized that dancing is more than just a hobby for me. It has been and continues to be a journey of personal discovery and personal improvement. I am more confident that I’ve been at any point in my life and in better shape than I’ve ever been and it was dancing that got me there. I read this in a book somewhere but it applies to me as well – dancing meets a need I didn’t know I had. I don’t know how long this journey will continue or where it will lead but I plan to use this blog to document that journey.
Oh, and I’ll throw in a few other things from time to time. My dogs do funny things from time to time and that may merit a post. And, I’ll post about other things that strike me. I may be an introvert but I do love writing about myself. Hope you enjoy.