*sigh* I thought I'd actually have the new site design up by now, but you know, the best laid plans and all... It's turning out to be quite the overhaul - everything I had ever wanted to update, from the pages to the underlying server code running this site, I have been doing for the last month-and-a-half.
Anyway, here's the last part of the short story I wrote, based on the first time I ever went to dance classes.
(continued from Chapter 3)
First Dance - Chapter 4. Names
And so it went like that the next hour or so, but with less nerves and zero stepping-on-feet. I learned a lot of other stories of how other people got into dancing, learned a lot of names (some I'd forget in a week, the majority I'd forget in an hour), but most of all I was learning to dance!
I've always loved to move - spinning on my chair at work was a prime example of my more restless nature - but my movements are usually quite awkward and feel a bit uncontrolled. Hell I remember in one of my school reports my phys-ed teacher wrote down "lots of enthusiasm, but needs to control her movements more". I'm ashamed to admit that report was from my high school days.
As much as I loved to move, I'd always felt I was doing it wrong.
Tonight's dancing however, it made me feel... graceful.
Following front-man's moves and front-lady's steps, my own moves and steps just felt better, controlled, and with much more purpose than my usual flailings (that's what I'm going to call everything else I've done before now that I used to pass-off as dancing: my 'flailings'). Even under the lead of some of the guys here my spins felt right. It felt a helluva lot better than what I do on my office chair by myself anyway. My phys-ed teacher would be proud.
When the class was over the music continued to play, and some people carried-on practicing. The others who had shuffled-away to go to their more-advanced class, came back to practice and then some. I sat down where Daniel and I had put our bags, waiting for Daniel to join me and allowing myself to catch my breath.
"So how was that Liz?" he asked when he came over.
I looked up at him from where I sat and beamed.
"That good huh?" he said, taking the reply from my expression. "Told you you'd be fine at dancing - it's right up your alley." Daniel fetched something from his bag, a drink bottle, and sat next to me. "You do look a bit on the tired side though."
"You know I don't do the gym thing," I replied, "so I'm actually a bit sore in muscles that I didn't even know I had! I thought all those years of walking to/from work would have helped, but apparently walking muscles are not the same as dancing muscles. I mean, I did side-steps and I felt my legs strain! When was the last time I walked sideways to work? Never!"
"True." he conceded. "But look at you, all sweaty and gross too. Ewww."
"Oi!" I said, and like at lunch today, moved to kick him, but found it too much of an effort, so settled for a lame slap to his shoulder that was more 'flailing' than graceful. I really need to get fit, or maybe just stick to this dancing thing for a while more.
Daniel continued to drink from his bottle, and I was glad to find they had water coolers and plastic cups around the place. I fetched myself a cold drink of water, returned to my seat, and joined Daniel in watching some of the more advanced people practicing in the middle of the room to the music they'd left playing.
Once the current song had stopped and I picked my jaw off the floor from what I saw some of the more expert dancers manage to do, Daniel nudged me and held out his hand.
"Care to show me what you learned then?" he asked.
I gulped-down the remainder of my water, set aside the cup, accepted his hand and accepted his challenge. "You're on."
We hung around for a few more minutes, Daniel managing to get one more dance in with the girl who was to my right during class, the one he so easily struck a conversation with when he left me a frozen sack of nerves. I stuck by the door holding both of our bags and other things, waiting for him. The appearance of me preparing to leave probably kept away several of the guys looking for girls to practice dancing with - I saw them look my way, look at the bags slung on my shoulder, then look somewhere else. It made for a pretty effective social shield.
"Leaving already?" said a voice to my left.
I turned my head and it was the guy who had stepped on my foot from earlier.
"You!" I shouted accusingly.
"Yeah, I'm still kinda sorry about that." he said, looking down at his feet, or maybe my foot, the one he stood on.
"No, don't be. Believe it or not, it actually helped."
"You were right: I was nervous. I've never done this, and I don't really go out much. New people can scare me a little sometimes... but you were quick to take my mind off that."
"Oh, umm... you're welcome?"
I smiled at him, then turned back to watch everyone on the dance floor, these people of all ages twisting and turning with such form and purpose. I can't remember exactly what moves I witnessed, but I remember what I was feeling and thinking when I stood there and just watched everyone, particularly the experts, at play.
I want to be able to do that.
"You know what else helped?" I asked, still watching the people dancing. "Talking," I continued, not waiting for his answer, "just listening to your story. It made me understand that I'm not the only one that's a bundle of nerves here."
"There are other ways of getting someone to talk without stepping on their feet." said the guy.
I looked at the guy, and arched an eyebrow. "Oh, what would you suggest?" I asked.
"Well, names are usually a good place to start." and with that he held out his hand, not in the way we did during dancing, but in greeting. "Jonathan."
I took his hand and shook it. "Elizabeth."
"See you next week then?" Jonathan asked.
I looked back at the people on the dance floor, their moves so purposeful and so much more refined than what I used to do, or what I used to even think was possible.
I want to be able to do that.
"Yeah," I answered, "I'll be here."
I went to work the next morning as ready as I would ever be to face the day: I fell asleep easily last night after having tired myself at dance class, had my alarm wake me up at the usual time, and again some 10 minutes later (thank you snooze button!), managed a quick breakfast of 2 pieces of toast and some hazelnut chocolate spread, and rushed to catch my normal bus still chewing my breakfast.
Front-man from the dance class last night encouraged us to practice spins whenever we could find some time and space. When I got into the lift at work at the basement level, his words to practice spinning entered my mind. I examined the lift: smooth floor, enough arm room, nobody else around.
I took a step back on my right foot, focused on a point level to my eyes on the lift doors, spread my arms out a little, then stepped forward, using the right foot to push me into a counter-clockwise spin on my left foot, bringing my arms in as I spun around. After a rotation I planted my right foot, stepped back on my left, then noticed the lift had stopped on my floor because the doors were open and there was Janet, on the other side of the doors, looking in.
We just stared at each other, not saying anything. I was feeling quite embarrassed, still posed at the end of my spin, and Janet was smiling, looking very pleased. It felt like hours with just us 2 looking at each other, and I got to wondering how long it had been because aren't the lift doors supposed to close by themselves after a couple of seconds?
Janet broke the stalemate by walking into the lift, still in silence. I walked passed her and, even though I didn't look back, I knew that grin on her face was getting larger and larger.
I eventually heard the lift doors close behind me as I walked away, made it to my desk, and sat down on my chair.
Then I smiled.
I think I did a pretty good spin.