Swing Your Partner

When I was in college in the early 90’s, country dancing was really popular even among non-country fans (remember The Boot Scootin Boogie?).

I was invited several times to go out country dancing but each time I responded that when I had children, I wanted to be able to tell them honestly that I didn’t ever drink, do drugs or go line dancing. I stuck with that pledge and have never participated in any of those activities until now.

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Since I was so stubborn about it in the past, country dancing was one of the first activities to go on my Giant List of Things to Try for this blog. It took me six months to finally work up the will to do it because a) country music and b) dancing. I finally got to work and found a place in Provo, gave my husband a few months’ advance warning, and gave myself several good pep talks.

I was expecting the place to be either empty or filled with old people so I was surprised to see a long line of college students waiting for the doors to open. All those visualization exercises I did to prepare me emotionally for this experience were now completely useless. When I expressed my surprise at the younger crowd, my husband said, “I knew it would be exactly like this. What do you expect when we’re a few blocks away from BYU?”

I was already having second thoughts as we stood in line and then we saw some old friends walking past and had to explain to them why we were there. I was seriously considering just leaving and giving up on a challenge for the first time, but my husband talked me into seeing it through. I know he did not want to be there either, especially because he ran the risk of running into current or former students and had a lot more to lose, but he was there for me. He even got all dressed up for the occasion.

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The evening began with a 30-minute tutorial. I was expecting it to only include line dancing so I panicked when they started teaching us the swing moves. I’m a terrible dancer and neither one of us has ever done any tricky couple dancing, unless you count my show choir choreography or his fourth grade square dancing award. The instruction portion went by too quickly and suddenly the real dancing began.

There were some super hard core dancers there and we had to duck a few times to avoid kicks to the head as girls were being tossed around. After one song’s worth of us wandering around trying to find a spot that wasn’t too crowded or well-lit and asking each other several times what we were even doing there, my husband suggested we actually try out the moves we had been taught.

We were slow and slightly disoriented, but my husband was persistent and, it turns out, good at leading. This was very helpful because I was clueless and not nearly as determined as he was to actually get the moves down. I did o.k. on some of the line dances because they’re a lot like Zumba class with more stomping, but I was still awfully confused.

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We tried our best to stick it out longer, but with only a handful of moves it got boring after a while. Plus, being back at a college dance gave me anxiety. I was impressed at the skill of many of the dancers and was even more impressed by my husband’s determination to get it right. I’m still not sure it’s my kind of thing, but if we ever find ourselves in a situation requiring thirty seconds of country dancing, we could probably fake it just enough to squeak by. Or if we really wanted to hone our skills, the place we went to offers instructional dvds. Even if we achieved nothing more than embarrassing our children, it would totally be worth it.

So would I have enjoyed myself if I had just caved in and tried this back in college? Nope. I’m pretty sure I would have hated country dancing and I would have spent the whole evening making a mental list of all the things my date did to annoy me because that’s what I did back then. And if I had given in to peer pressure on the dancing, who knows where else it could have led. I’m so glad I waited to try it until it was the right time with the right person.

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