Jan 10, 2010

On Ballroom Dancing Lessons

We are a long, long ways from this photo

Many years ago I made my wife a promise that after I finished my doctorate I would accompany her in ballroom dancing lessons. At the time I made the agreement I figured my PhD would be a long ways off, perhaps so far in the future that she would forget. Alas, I finished said academic degree, and the bill came due on the pledge to trip the proverbial light fantastic, so today we embarked on our first lesson.

The class took place at the Summit YMCA, and the instructors were affiliated with a local group called Mind, Body, and Spirit. There were about 30 people at various levels of skill, and this week at least six other people joined us in the "first time" category. The instructors also grouped participants into beginner, intermediate, and advanced groups, which meant that my gawky initial attempts at ballroom dancing would only be witnessed by fellow newbies.

I should add that my skill level on the dance floor has traditionally been rather limited. I can usually avoid looking like a total idiot, at least when I am not in full-on tourist mode at an Outer Banks vacation rental, but I know very few moves as a dancer, and I have never approached dancing with any sort of logic.

This is to say that I pretty much learned to dance after much drinking when I was younger, and I have progressed little since then, save for the fact that I now dance sober.

Anyways, my wife and I got the hang of some of the rudimentary steps after a few minutes, and I was surprised how quickly we could move from "clueless" to "awkward-but-organized." We mastered the basic four-count step, the half-turn, and several combination steps in relatively rapid fashion, though both of us were stymied by the full-turn and the cha-cha.

I was also limited after throwing out my back shoveling snow the other day, although I feel better standing up than sitting down. My back only gave me grief during turns and spins, but I suppose the best sacroiliac therapies always involve some form of repetitive motion to keep the muscles from binding up. Yet we will be back the next few weeks as we elevate our ballroom game to a level resembling "competent."

Look out, Jean-Marc Généreux.


Ellie Belen said...

I think every husband has had to make that promise.

I hope you find that you really enjoy it.

Imagine the raised eyebrows you'll see when you spin your wife expertly around the room at the next wedding or anniversary party.

historymike said...

Agreed, Ellie, that the next social situation where dance is involved will be a chance to show off. I was really surprised that after a single lesson of two hours my wife and I could execute a few relatively simple moves that looked quite eye-catching - it is the synchronization that makes ballroom dancing (and other structured couples dancing) so compelling.

Mad Jack said...

My congratulations to you and Mistress HistoryMikePhD on taking the first step. I think it's easier for men to start with a secluded beginner's class; we can all look around and decide that we don't look any worse than the poor guy next to us.

Hooda Thunkit (Dave Zawodny) said...

Dr. Brooks,

Although I've never attempted ballroom dancing, i still remember the advice offered by a wise old oriental man, given to me years ago:

"Dance with your knees far apart, for obvious reasons..."

HTH and enjoy ;-)