The opening riff beckons, and my feet feel the compulsive urge to move. It is not a song I know, or have even heard, but the draw is still ever present. The music practically commands motion, and no one can even pretend to disagree. Timidly, I step forward, ever careful of his feet for they are often the victim of my clumsiness. His jagged movements typically bring those wounds about, but the hesitation of my feet is still present.
The hours spent dancing the previous night have started to take a toll on me, for I am struggling to remain upright; my whole body is tired, a sensation that is unusual at a young age. My mind is spinning with thoughts of tranquil rest, envisioning myself meandering to a place of comfort and hominess, a place where I can sit down and be peaceful.
Sounds of salsa blare through the imposing speakers in the corner of the room, gradually building the feeling of spontaneity and freedom. The desire to follow the lure of the refrain grows ever stronger. Until now we had been aimlessly wandering, drifting around the area. We need to find direction I think, we need to start to step with the counts.
Our motions don’t quite have the rhythm yet, the tune hasn’t resonated into our bodies. For us, equilibrium is hard to acquire, my nearly four-and-a-half foot frame cannot compare to his looming height, and consequently it takes a spell before we finally settle into a pattern. Still, I am by far the smallest in the spacious room in both size and age; his legs take longer strides while mine get constantly tangled in his lack of technique, his arms purposeful, while mine are technical; in this situation, I should not be the leader, but I am. It is quite a sight.
Once the beat hits “two,” we’re improving. The other couples are no longer shooting us disapproving glances or stares; they accept that we belong here. It is a nice feeling, a tentative kind of nice, one where we are aware that they think us odd or childish outside, but within these spatial confines, we are all equal. That’s the beauty of dance: it brings people together in ways they could have never envisioned and transforms the entire ensemble into a glorious machine; everyone helping with their parts to create the overarching effect.
Conscious of glares I have been given, my head returns to my thoughts of fear, and I begin to lose consciousness. The abyss of my brain starts to tap out of the moment, it is not only my physical body that is exhausted, but my mind as well. We reach a point where it is no longer imperative for my utmost attention to focus on creating fluid movements, so I wander into a chasm where I often find myself entrapped—fear, more specifically; I always fret that I am the victim of judgment within this class. Conceited as it may seem, I recognize that I am an unusual entity in this particular ensemble; young, experienced, and quiet. The fusion of these traits makes for a very apprehensive being.
Reaching “three” is a relief for no one except my partner, this count marks the time when we begin to exchange partners. It is imperative that the entire ensemble is synchronized for the flinging, throwing, and beautiful chaos of a partner change for it to occur; one is either an utter disaster or a glorious sight, there is no middle ground. The thoughts of partner change swirl around in my temple until I suddenly hear the bellow of drums that signifies the moment is upon us.
When the beat reaches “four,” everyone gasps.
With that sound of shock, the vibe did not necessarily crumble, it merely washed away. A tsunami had disrupted our class, a flow of water that could not be stopped, and it is all my fault. I am soaking from tights all the way down to my shoes, everything is drenched. The floor is evidence of what just transpired in this room and seeing it made me shocked, embarrassed, and a little bit surprised. I keep replaying the events in my head, but surely, this could not be reality, I must be dreaming. Anything would be better than peeing all over the floor of the dance studio.
After this, I go home and remain on technology for hours until I eventually block out the mortifying experience. Sulking for hours on end, I never fully regain my confidence in that class even after starring in our number for the annual recital. Amazingly, my partner, my teacher, and all the other adult couples in the class never mention the tsunami again. They act just as they always do, and my partner stays my partner for a grand total of three more years until I move. The embarrassment should not be blocked out I realize, but teach a lesson. In my case, it was the simple one of being comfortable enough to ask something as basic as, “May I go to the bathroom?”
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