Backtrack: How it all Got Started


If you’ve read my “About Me” page, you probably have a good idea of how this whole relationship with dance got started.  But, what you don’t know, is all the fine and, yes, embarrassing details that go along with it.  Yours truly has been suffering from writer’s block.  So, in an effort to break down the wall, I might as well tell you the full story of my first true exposure to dance.

I’ve always been very physically active.  When I was little, I was always running, jumping, and climbing around, never really finding the time to sit still.  I truly think that it’s this aspect of my personality that drew me to dance.  I don’t really remember dancing too much before my first dance class aside from my cousin’s weddings and events of similar nature.  I do remember the constant physical therapy exercises I had to do either with my Mom, or with an instructor.  They were designed to help calm my severe anxiety and even more severe temper.  Let’s just say, the term wild child fit me exactly when I was extremely young.  Daddy dearest even had a nickname for me during those times: the Demon Imp.  Yeah.  Needless to say, I also remember screaming until I was blue in the face during these sessions because I had no clue what they were for, and I just wanted out.  In retrospect, I’m happy I had physical therapy as a youngster because it’s given me a great deal of physical coordination and strength, ahem, despite my diminutive stature.

My first dance class was in the eighth grade.  These classes were mandatory and occurred every Friday night after school.  Most of the class, especially the boys, hated it, and looked like they wanted to stab themselves in the eye with a #2 pencil.  They were essentially like group classes.  We learned some basic movements, delved into some dances of a certain genre, and ended the night with some hip-hop.  We also had to rotate partners constantly.  It was during rotation that I came across the dreaded “floppy fish grip.”  To anyone who goes out dancing, don’t do this.  We’re all taught that when we shake hands with someone, we do it firmly out of respect.  The same goes for dancing.  That doesn’t mean put my hand in a vice and cut off my circulation.  It means grip my hand like, I don’t know, you’re actually alive.  That definitely developed into a pet peeve, but I must confess that DP has called me out on lack of grip before during the days when physical contact actually scared me.  It was during these classes that my love of dance really hit me, and I looked forward to them each and every week, especially since my crush was there.  Yes, my origin in dance is irrevocably tied with the fact that I was going through puberty and crushing like nobody’s business.  Ugh.

Come to think of it, what was the purpose of these classes anyway?  I think it’s because they all wanted to makes us into beautiful ladies and handsome gentleman.  We were going to be in high school *gasp* just a summer after the year ended, and dancing is a social skill.  The fact that I’d attended a “Manners Matter” banquet in the sixth grade just backs up my theory.  I think that’s why so many people hated it.  (For the record, if any of you have stories like this, I’d love to post it here.  Hint, hint.)  But, they were necessary.  We had to learn how to eat properly and how to survive at dances without making a scene.  I’m grateful to them for that.  Later, that summer, fueled by my love for “Dancing with the Stars,” I took my first summer classes at an Arthur Murray studio.  The rest has yet to be determined.

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2 thoughts on “Backtrack: How it all Got Started

  1. We had to take dance classes at school too, learning the basics of the cha cha, waltz, foxtrot, samba etc. we even we given the opportunity to compete in an amateur competition if we wanted to. Like you, the boys weren’t so interested, mostly, but by the time the competition came around the most desperate of us girls had managed to find partners, even if our partners were a foot shorter than us (like mine!). I think dance in schools is a great introduction to it for kids!

    • Hey, Emily. We never went as far as an amateur competition, but we did learn the basics for waltz and salsa. For ballroom, I’m currently in a pro-am set up. But, I’d love to have an amateur partner to practice with at the very least.

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