In my last post, I briefly mentioned my dance phobia. Now, I have not been medically diagnosed or anything, but according to the *always-reliable* internet, “Chorophobia” is a real thing. It’s defined as: The irrational fear of or aversion to dancing, often based on one’s unwillingness to become aroused, excited, or ecstatic. The article I read also said that fear of dancing could stem from fear of public ridicule, which is more along the lines of what I’ve experienced in the past. It’s not that I hate the idea of dancing, or even that I don’t feel my shoulders swaying and my feet wanting to tap out the rhythm when my favorite song comes on. It’s actually getting out of my chair and onto a public dance floor that scares me like nothing else.
It all goes back to the Homecoming Dance during my freshman year of high school. I was out on the dance floor with all the other kids, flailing my arms and legs wildly with abandon. Little did I know that other students were laughing at my free-spirited moves and taking surreptitious pictures on their disposable drug store cameras. Even the class creeper snuck up behind me and air-grinded me for several minutes before I saw him out of the corner of my eye, and that was caught on film as well, of course. After living through the subsequent week of shame and embarrassing photos being thrust in my face, I silently vowed, “Never again, dancing. You and me are through!” Oh….high school. *shudder*
Even though my high school days are behind me, and I will likely never be dancing in front of a roomful of such harsh critics again, I just can’t shake that fear that I’m going to embarrass myself. I feel like I’ll never again be able to dance with that reckless abandon that I had in ninth grade–I’m always acutely aware that I’m being watched (and possibly filmed) whenever I step out onto the dance floor, and my arms and legs just kind of clamp up and stop moving. My other problem is that I’m not really sure what to do with myself. I’m not an intuitive dancer. I feel like I need someone to show me what kind of moves to make so that I won’t look completely ridiculous. So I enrolled myself and my husband in a dance class. 🙂
Now, I’m a sucker for all things old-fashioned. I love looking inside of old houses, watching old movies, and any occasion that warrants wearing a costume from another time period. A few months ago, Justin and I had nothing to do on a Saturday night, and he decided that he wanted to take me swing dancing (I know! My heart started pounding and my palms started sweating just thinking about it!). I dragged my feet a little, but he told me that we wouldn’t have to stay long and he talked me into going in the end. We drove downtown and pulled up to a speakeasy with jazz music blaring through the windows. They directed us to go up the stairs to the ballroom. When we swung open the double doors, it was like we were magically transported back in time. Smoke seemed to hang in the dimly lit room, and a bartender dressed up with a black vest and bow-tie lazily wiped down glasses at the bar. A band called The Boilermakers were playing at the front of the room, their set complete with clarinets, horns, and a double bass. Ladies in period dresses and men wearing saddle shoes were gliding smoothly across the floor as if they had choreographed everything beforehand. It was incredible.
I’ve seen swing dancing before. Like many of you, I went through the swing dance revival in the late nineties and was only much too pleased to have a chance to show off my kicks and jazz hands whenever anyone cranked up “Zoot Suit Riot” on the radio. I’m long over that phase by now….but this was not like any swing dancing I’d ever seen before. It was much more elegant and subtle, and it involved some really fancy footwork. No one was flailing around wildly on the dance floor, but they were twirling and hopping expertly, with a skill that only comes through training and practice. “I want to learn how to do that,” I caught myself saying out loud as I watched a girl with golden sparkly Keds dance do a miniature tap dance while her partner held her at arm’s length.
But this wasn’t something I would be able to learn in the twenty-minute tutorial before a night-long dance commenced. I have some serious dance issues. And I knew I needed remedial help.
So I looked into it online, and found that they were offering a course of just the style of swing that I wanted to learn–Lindy Hop. I also found that the jump, jive, and wail kind of swing that I was more familiar with is commonly known as the Jitterbug. Justin and I are in our third week of classes so far! It has been really interesting….and also proven to be great therapy for my dance phobia. More to come on that later…
Here’s a YouTube video example of some incredible Lindy Hop dancers, in case you’re interested: