if you ain’t got that swing

Swing dancing, which I always thought would be my thing, didn’t come as naturally as I expected. It turns out that I’m a terrible follower, which in real life, ain’t so bad. When it comes to couples dancing, though, quickly became an unfortunate handicap.

Felipe and I took a west coast swing dancing class for fun. We were inspired by to 40 to 60-year old dancers that come out to Carnation Gardens Plaza every weekend at Disneyland to smoothly glide and sway to live jazz.

The “fun” part of it melted into my beet-red embarrassment as soon as we rotated couples. Felipe was my comfort zone, and dancing with anyone else would be me pushing mine. My two left feet don’t do too well under pressure.

“You’ve got to let your partner lead!” I heard, repeatedly. Only I found this funny.

Was I really that much of a square that I couldn’t let loose? I interpreted my inability to flow with the music and my partner as a reflection of my current self — the one that had been chiseled away by work, repetitive tasks in the office, client phone calls, and editing manuscripts. My once-smooth contours were now angular, rigid, and offensive.

That night, I put my vinyl records on and asked Felipe to work with me (rather, bear with me) while I tried to figure out steps in my head. Then, I tried something new and closed my eyes as he led me. Suddenly, all I had to sense where we would go next was the pressure from his hands and arms. Outside turn, inside turn — everything seemed so much easier when I didn’t distract my mind with whether I was doing it right or now. I started to get it. Finally, I started to have fun.

Yesterday, I had a very uncomfortable and sad conversation with my boss about leaving my job in the fall. I told him I had to get back to my creative self — my music, doing my own writing, and living the bohemian, impoverished — yet happy — life I once led. This past year has shown me that I am capable of doing anything that I set my mind to, but I also learned that just because I can do something, it doesn’t mean that it’ll keep me fulfilled.

I’m looking forward loosening up again — to being led as opposed to thinking too hard about the next step.


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