Candy corn and mayonnaise. Sea turtles and hair brushes. Swing dancing and Julia. What do all of these things have in common? They’re things that don’t merge well… or at least that don’t merge without a struggle.
This week, I joined UT-Swing – the official U of T swing dance club – for a beginner’s lesson and a social dance at St. Hilda’s. The club meets on Wednesday evenings and has a lesson for newbies every week before the social dance. This is helpful for people like me who need to go through the basic instructions of dancing a certain way several times in order to get it right.
We started the beginner lesson by learning the basic steps of swing dance – a step, a rock step, and a triple step. This part went okay for me; I felt confident in my ability to follow the steps that the instructors called out.
But then things got a little complicated as they started introducing more complex movements. I began having a hard time remembering how I was supposed to keep my feet moving while also moving my partner with me. I stayed afloat as long as I did what the instructors told me to do.
But then came the social dance. This was where I felt super out of my element. I loved the English Country Dancing that I tried a few weeks ago, feeling like an Austen character and all, but swing dancing was the most uncomfortable thing I’ve done for the blog so far (I know – even worse than going to a football game, which isn’t to say that I didn’t enjoy swing dancing). I just got a little overwhelmed! There were people, and I had to remember to lead my partner!! And I had to make sure I didn’t fall over!!! And I had to do all of this while feeling super awkward because I knew I was bad at it. It was stressful. The English Country dancing was just following the choreographed dance. But swing dancing involves a lot of improvisation and split-second decisions to figure out what you’re going to do next – you really just move to the music, and that’s not something I’m good at.
In the end, I left the social dance early. It’s not that I didn’t have fun – it’s that sheer embarrassment won in the end. But it’s not keeping me down… I’m determined to keep practicing. I’m sure that if I keep at it, swing dancing could become something I really love and enjoy doing regularly. And I’m looking forward to conquering the awkwardness that I’ve never really been able to shake when it comes to dancing with a partner. I’ll keep you posted if I decide to venture back into the world of swing dancing anytime soon…
Check out UT-Swing on Facebook here!