First Dance - Chapter 3. Steps

(continued from Chapter 2)

First Dance - Chapter 3. Steps

"Where are you?"

Daniel's voice was shouting at me through my cell phone, trying to be heard through the crappy reception and static that played as background noise to the call. I was shoving the phone as close as I possibly could to my ear, the other hand blocking the other ear so I could hear him better over the noise of people and traffic on the street I had accidentally found myself in.

"I think I'm lost!" I shouted,

"How... you... are you now?"

All this technology in my phone and it still sounded like Daniel was talking through a swimming pool all the way from the moon.

"If you... coming from work, did you... left at Collins St?"

I heard that part semi-clearly, and realizing my mistake - turning right at Collins St - I turned around and headed back the way I came.

"Left! Dammit, I turned right! Hold on, I'm on my way." I said, and hoped that my sentences had a better chance of reaching him than his words did to me.

"Cool, I'll... outside the building and wait... you."

"K. See you!"

I ended the call and looked at the time on my phone: 7:05. My first dance class and I was already 5 minutes late. This better not be a sign of the night to come.

5 minutes later I spotted Daniel standing outside the building he described earlier - a rather non-descript concrete structure with walls that he said were some sort of cream, but illuminated by the evening street lights made the colour tend towards pink. Apart from him, the only sign that this was the right place was a sandwich board sitting on the sidewalk by the entrance advertising the dance classes that lay within. I probably would have walked right by this place.

Daniel noticed my approach and waved at me.

"Hey, you made it." he said as I reached him.

"Oh my gosh I'm 10 minutes late. Have I missed anything?" I replied, panicked.

"Nah they're just warming-up. There's still a line of people inside. Are you ready?"

"Yeah, hurry up let's go!"

Daniel went through the door and I stuck close to him, following some more signs that politely pointed the way with very large black arrows on the white paper they were printed on. If only I had these arrows show me which way to turn earlier...

We soon found the hall where everybody else was, and it was a big space. It reminded me of my school's gym, if a gym had stage light rigging attached to the ceiling and a slightly-elevated stage at the front. Inside the hall though was what surprised me the most: a tonne of people. They were all stepping side-to-side doing their warm-ups, and it looked like what I'd imagine an aerobics class would be doing in a gym (if I ever actually went to a gym).

"Hi Daniel," said the girl sitting behind a large desk by the doors, "who do we have here?"

"This is my friend Elizabeth, and it's her first time here." said Daniel, pushing me forward, presenting me like a sacrifice to a pagan deity while I was still staring at everything and taking it all in.

"Oh, welcome!" said desk girl happily, this time at me. "In that case, could you please fill out this form. We get all our new sign-ups to do this."

Sign-ups? Was I signing-up to anything? I looked back at Daniel with a question mark on my face, but he seemed not to notice, so I turned back to the form, picked-up one of many pens scattered on the desk, and filled-in as much of my personal information as the paper form had space for.

"Excellent." said desk girl the moment I completed my signature. "And welcome again!"

Once I set the pen down, Daniel pushed me further into the hall and off to the side where we set down our bags. I assume he presented the voucher while I was giving-away my home address, e-mail address, and phone number to a bunch of strangers, because desk girl never asked me for money.

Right then the warm-up class seemed to be breaking apart, and the man at the front of the hall was directing people where to go based on skill level. All I managed to hear was "Beginners stay here."

"Alright, we're in here for the next hour." Daniel said, confirming what I heard.

I followed him into the middle of the room as people went in all directions - some staying in the room, others creating a line out a side door to another room - and watched what the others who were in here were doing. Everyone else was getting into pairs, facing each other, then lining-up in their pairs into imaginary rows. Daniel and I did the same.

"Welcome everybody," said the man at the front of the hall through a headset, "if this is your first class, then I'd like to thank you for coming along to try something new, and for those of you who came in using the vouchers we had on several daily deal sites, then lucky you because those vouchers expire tomorrow."

I turned to Daniel and tried to say, 'Lucky us', with my smile, but Daniel was still looking towards the front of the class.

"OK, now that everybody's settled..." continued front-man as he beckoned to some woman to come join him - his dance partner/demonstrator I presumed - who was dressed pretty glamorously I thought. While the man was in a shirt and jeans much like Daniel, the woman was in a really nice dress, quite unlike me. I looked down again at what I was wearing, looked around the room at the other girls for comparison, and felt just a wee bit underdressed.

"...the moves we're learning tonight are all written on the board here," as front man pointed to said board off the side, "and the first one we're going to learn tonight is..."

Front-man read and demonstrated the first move off the board with his partner for everybody to see. My initial reaction was something like 'holy crap', mixed with a lot of second-guessing as to what I was doing here. Then front man and woman broke it down in slow-motion, making it easier for me to follow what the hell just happened, and suddenly I didn't feel so overwhelmed.

Daniel held out one of his hands, I placed my hand in his, and we followed front-man's and front-woman's steps. This was repeated a few more times, and it didn't feel too bad at all. I managed to reproduce each of the steps rather easily and Daniel was able to copy the lead, though it felt like his skill was more through practice from his previous classes.

"This isn't too bad." I said aloud to Daniel, not exactly looking at him as I said it since the current step involved me being at his side and facing in a different direction to him.

"Told you so." he replied, which came out a bit flatly. Concentrating perhaps? "When'd you get so good at spinning anyway? Most girls here have to go through several classes before they can spin on the spot."

I was about to tell him it was all thanks to the practice I get from spinning on my office chair. It made sense in my head - gaining confidence to stay on balance and to trust that balance while the rest of your body spins somewhat controllably - but as I opened my mouth to try relate the 2 types of spinning, I found I didn't really know how to explain the connection between the two in words.

Maybe I could explain it to Janet tomorrow morning, then she might not be so strict about me spinning on my chair since I've now found it has a real-world application.

"OK," said front-man, "now we're going to switch partners."

I think I panicked a little when I heard that.

As front-man explained who was going to be moving (the guys) and in which direction they were going (to my right), I watched Daniel move on to the girl next to us and instantly strike a conversation. My hands were still hovering in mid-air, just as he had left them, and I just stared at them, frozen in my panicked state. I eventually remembered to loosen my arms to let gravity take a hold and bring them back down, when someone suddenly stood on my foot.

It didn't hurt (thanks to my comfy shoes which happened to have some thickness to them, and because my mind was elsewhere at that moment), and the culprit was quick to remove their foot off mine. I looked away from my hands towards the person who had stood on my feet.

"Oh my... sorry about that." said the guy in front of me.

"Hmm? Oh, I'm OK, I wasn't really paying attention to my feet."

"Still, that's a pretty bad way to start my first day at dancing."

"You new to this too?" I asked.

"Yeah. My cousin dragged me along." said the guy, pointing-out another girl in the room.

"Hah, my friend for me." I replied, pointing-out Daniel just next to us.

"You look a bit nervous there."

"Oh, I..." I shook my head for some reason, as if shaking my head would shake-off the remainder of the feeling of panic I got when we had to switch partners and I was left with the idea of dancing with complete strangers. There wasn't much feeling left to shake-off though - the small chat I had started-up with this guy who probably had the most unique ice-breaker I've ever encountered (stepping on my feet), accidental or not, was really pushing away the nerves.

"No," I managed, after shaking my head, "I'm fine."

I held out my hand in the way Daniel held it in-place earlier, and the guy took it and we continued to practice what we had just learned.

(to be continued...)