This weekend I had the opportunity to go Contra dancing. I was incredibly nervous! I don't do dancing. My "free style" usually goes unnoticed (as Rub can attest to, I was at a Halloween party doing the Breakfast Club shake down - you know, when Ally Sheedy looks like she's falling to the ground having a seizure almost - and NO ONE but Rub even noticed me dancing, I was the only person in the room dancing) and any form of formalized dancing usually gets laughed at.
I hate games like dance-dance because people make fun of the way I do it because I'm so focused on getting the steps and I have absolutely no rhythm. So... me=nervous.
We get there and my date (who has never heard of Contra dancing either) introduces me to the host and the band. That's how he knew about it, the host and the keyboard player are his landlords and the violin player is his roommate. So the host takes me aside and starts to show me the basic moves...oh, for those of you who are just like me and don't know anything about Contra dancing, it's partnered folk dancing. That's the best I can describe it.
So I learn the names and the moves and forget everything by the time the music starts. But I was told that if I just keep smiling, people will take care of me. So, I whipped out that smile and kept it plastered to my face until we left two and half hours later. I started the first dance with the host and my date with someone else, they told us it was actually best not to dance together since neither of us knew what we were doing. We did try one or two dances together...but they were right, two newbies should avoid each other!
At the beginning of each dance I was completely lost, no clue what was happening. The move I got down the quickest was The Spin, I should say that I learned it's name the quickest because I'm pretty sure I have lots of work to do on it! The easiest rule to remember is that the woman is always right...or always on the right. You begin each dance at one point in the line and you dance in sets of four, for most dances you and your partner start off with another couple and you do a few moves and then you and your partner move down one way, the other couple go the other way, and the whole line ends up dancing with each other. By the time I got to the end of the line I had the dance down and was really enjoying myself (mostly because I wasn't messing up the line by doing the wrong move) then, you'd sit out one "round" and jump back in, but now you're going backwards! So it would throw me off!
In one of the dances the girl has what they call "A shadow" and it's the guy that is to your right that will always be there, so you have your partner who you always return to and your shadow who is always there, and some random guy that changes out each time you move down the line (like all the other dances). My shadow was probably my favorite person in the room! It was a quick paced dance but he didn't seem to be moving fast. I don't know how to explain it, he was keeping up, not struggling at all, but it was like things slowed down when it was time to dance with my shadow, which helped calm my nerves, which is probably why I thought he was so great, that, and he would slowly lift his hand this way or that and kind of direct me to the right or the left if he noticed I had forgotten something.
At one point, the host (sorry, I forgot his name) noticed that Corey and I were dancing together (the newbies!) and started to head over and someone stopped him and said, "Don't worry, the kids are alright." ...yeah, we were pretty much the youngest people there too. But people kept telling him (the host) that we were doing well, we were picking up quickly on the moves and everything.
People told me that too, they said I was doing great and they were just super nice (except this one guy in a kilt, didn't like him too much, but whatever). Of course, the thing I heard most was, "You're doing great, just relax!" Which proves to me that I was doing my Dance-Dance thing, focusing all on the moves and not on the rhythm. Regardless, I had an awesome time and I think I'm a little in love with it. They do it twice a month at this building not too far from my house, so we'll have to see if I can talk someone in to going with me.