My two left feet: Salsa dance class recap

Friday, January 13, 2012


This is not me and my friends.
As you are all well aware, I’m not the best dancer in the world. Based on my marvelous, proven track record with Just Dance 3, it’s evident that I have about as much grace as wildebeest and shouldn’t be allowed around anything resembling a dance floor. Sure, I can bust out a great rendition of the “Cha-Cha Slide” at any wedding so long as there is a cash-only bar nearby, but when it comes to performing calculated dance steps that involve my hands and feet doing something different at the same time, forget about it. My lack of dancing ability is a humiliating, shameful secret that was very much exposed on Tuesday night at Clay’s and my first Salsa dance class. 

I went into this class thinking, “Yay! I’m trying something fun and exciting with my husband! This is going to be great!” and apparently forgetting everything that was just mentioned above.  But come on, I’ve done sports since I was in kindergarten. I’m used to being able to do participate in almost any type of athletic activity with at least some marginal amount of skill. That kind of stuff just comes easily to me. Could structured dancing really be much different?

Why yes, yes it can.

I knew I wasn’t going to be great at salsa dancing. In fact, I didn’t even count on the fact that I would be good at it. I just figured I’d be able to channel my inner volleyball and softball player and get through the motions without completely embarrassing my husband or drawing any sort of unwanted attention to myself.

We began class with an introduction to thebasic Salsa steps and learned to always step onto the balls of our feet.  This is when I also learned that when looking into a mirror, I can’t tell the different between my right and left feet.  

Our instructor told our class, “Salsa is the sexiest dance in the world.” 

To which I promptly replied, “It won’t be after I get done with it.”

Our instructor told our class, “Salsa is all about the sway of the hips.”

To which I promptly replied, “Lucky for Salsa I’m built like a prepubescent boy and don’t have any hips.”

But never mind all that, I thought to myself. Clay and I can laugh and fumble through this together.

And that’s when our dance instructor dropped a bomb on me:

“I’d like for everyone to switch partners every couple of minutes,” she chirped, shimmying herself to the center of the room.  “It will be a great way for you to get used to dancing with other people and recognizing their unique cues.”
This is not Clayton and I either.
 I’m sorry, but I don’t plan on ever going out “for a night of Salsa dancing”, let along ever dancing with another dude. I took this class to dance with my hubs, and my hubs only. No other man in this room is prepared to take on the hot mess that is Courtney Alexis.

But switching partners we did. I am highly disappointed to report that out of the entire 50 minute class, I danced with Clayton for maybe 45 seconds of it. I tried to hide my feelings since everyone else seemed perfectly okay to dance with complete strangers, but inside I was seething. I mean, hello? Have we ever met? My name is Courtney and I’m all about personal space. I saw the movie Bubble Boy and it didn't seem like such a bad life. I’m awkward enough on my own, I do not need to be 6 inches from a complete stranger’s face.

“Make sure you look at your partner, not your feet,” our instructor interjected as she slinked by to check our progress. Um, no thank you.

I'm pretty sure that my face was about 50 shades of red during the entirety of that class. I do NOT do well in situations where I’m pushed outside my comfort zone. I’m always willing to try something new and will give almost anything a shot at least once (Cleary. I was there, right?), but I want to crawl out of my skin with anxiousness if I have to such a close encounter with someone I don’t know. I mean, holding hands and staring into the eyes of someone I’ve never met is the most awkward thing I can imagine. And on top of everything else, the Salsa is supposed to be sexy. And I’m sorry, but I don’t have a desire to do anything sexy with anyone but my husband. I’ve been less anxious at a pelvic exam.

I kept apologizing to everyone I danced with. I tried to justify my two left feet by mutter over and over again, “I’m a terrible dancer,” which of course, just made me even more nervous. 

Occasionally my partner was another woman which made me feel a little better. And dancing with my friend Dan was fine because he and I talked about everything gross, embarrassing or inappropriate when we used to work together; he’s my bud. 

And speaking of Dan, it sure didn’t help that we are taking this dance class with him and his wife, Emily.  Dan and Emily who have taken swing dance lessons together. Emily who is a jazzercise instructor.

And she was amazing! Emily was so fluid in her movement and all of the steps came so easily to her. In fact, our instructor kept using Emily as her partner whenever she needed to demonstrate a step and after class took her for a freestyle spin across the studio floor. I was so impressed by Emily and so wildly embarrassed by own lack of skills.

And I hate that I let myself get so flustered during class. As you all know, I’m hopelessly tense and nervous at all times. And as you all also know, I completely hate that about myself. I wanted so badly to go into this class as a cool, confident chick who was totally willing to laugh at herself and have fun no matter how terrible she was. But that was not me. Not at all. And I kept reprimanding myself for being such an awkward idiot. I made it such much worse for myself. 

So while I took the first dance class as a complete failure, I’m not going to let it get the best of me and prevent me from going back. I can’t deny the truth—this is a brand new experience for me, something of which I have no previous knowledge to fall back on. And learning something new definitely takes time and everyone in that studio is there to help, not to judge or make fun of me (gosh, at least I hope not!). This 8-week dance class will be a great way for me to work on getting used to being pushed outside of my comfort zone and an opportunity to stop being so damn critical of myself. No one expects me to leave this class and head straight for Dancing with the Stars: Bloggers Edition, And I need not put that kind of pressure on myself either. I’m not expected to be good at everything I try. It’s just a dance class. It’s supposed to be fun.

And I’m going to keep dancing until it is.

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