Those of you who know me know that over the last seven years I’ve gotten involved in the local social dance scene. And I’m growing as a man as a result.
In fact, in the process I’ve found a piece of me that had long gone undiscovered until then — it seems as though everything I am and have can be wrapped up in dance of late. I’m a former basketball player who retired a decade ago from competitive sports, primarily basketball, and have also been a musician since I started taking piano at age 7. Basically, not only can I hear and feel the music but I can move to it as well.
So what does this have to do with the masculine journey that my favorite Christian author, John Eldredge, often refers to? Several things.
One, it’s a skill that needs to, and can, be learned, which means you need someone to teach you; fortunately, at least in my case, my teachers have been good and patient and will tell me exactly what I do right and where I can improve. I’ve been taking lessons in West Coast Swing, my favorite dance, for about two years, and last month the instructor was showing us how to get out of a certain position. I did something different than what he was demonstrating, but he told me that what I did was simply another way to do it. (In WCS there’s a lot of leeway.)
Two, done properly dance is elegant, with elegance being one of my weaknesses, so to speak, and I’ve come to appreciate watching couples on the floor who’ve been at it for a while. At some point I’d like to develop a routine with a regular partner; while I don’t see myself as a competitor it’s something to look forward to. Eldredge has consistently said that appreciating beauty is part of the journey.
Three — and I’m seeing this more and more — it really is a way to impress women, who appreciate a man who knows how to take the lead. While attending a birthday party in November I spotted a woman squirming in her seat to the Earth, Wind & Fire song “September” so, seeing an opportunity, I offered my hand, lifted her to her feet and led her in some basic WCS steps. At the end she grabbed my arm and, nearly in tears, said to me, because I knew how to dance with a partner, “You made my day!” (And in photos I saw later I saw the delight on her face.) Thinking about it now, I’ve always been attracted to dancers — during my first romantic relationship, in the summer of 1988, when I was visiting her at her apartment my girlfriend often wore ballet slippers, which I found incredibly sexy.
Indeed, many of my fondest memories of late have involved dance. Last month I wrote a tune inspired by another regular at an East Coast Swing (jitterbug) dance, and after I presented her with the lead sheet she was moved to tears. She even told me that not only did she want to hear the tune performed by the 16-piece band that plays there — I also do arranging — but that she wanted to dance with me when it’s played. (Needless to say, I’m working on that now.)
Here in Pittsburgh ballroom dancing has become quite popular, and while I’m not nearly as accomplished as I am with swing dancing it has a similar effect on me. Learning gives a sense of accomplishment, and I hope to keep doing it as long as I live. Which is the point.