Sherry’s first dance
(Thank you, Sherry, for sharing your tale…)
A girlfriend of mine recommended I try Contradancing. Intrigued by the twinkle in her eye and trusting her judgement, I checked the schedule for Kalamazoo dances. The night of the dance, my girlfriend couldn’t go. I thought about staying home, not wanting to go by myself into a room full of strangers (my guts tightened up just at the thought of it), but I gathered my courage and went alone. I got there early enough for the beginner’s lesson. Everybody seemed nice, especially the instructor, Mike Clark. Once the dancing started, I joined in, but made many mistakes, getting very dizzy and disoriented. I was worried that I was messing up the dance for everyone else, but received a lot of encouragement and reassurance from the other dancers. I learned to laugh at my mistakes and keep going. I felt welcome. The partners I danced with were so helpful, guiding me where I needed to go, with their hands and their eyes. I remember being impressed at how many generations were dancing together, and how it didn’t seem to be a beauty, popularity or talent contest. I liked the community feeling and the kindness of the dancers. I loved the live music. The dancing had an unusual closeness to it, but was combined with a sense of safety. I could experience the joy of connectedness without it having a romantic implication. What a wonderful freedom that was!
At the end of the evening I was sore, tired and sweaty, but very happy. I was hooked. I knew right away that this was a community I would fit into, a community of good folks who like to have fun, without the crutch of drugs or alcohol. It felt really good.
At the Contradance, I saw a flyer for English Country Dancing and inquired about that. It was being held on the following Wednesday evening. So, I went to that too. The music and the dancing were so elegant and beautiful, I felt expanded. It brought tears to my eyes. I couldn’t believe this kind of dancing had been available all along and I hadn’t known anything about it! I felt like I had discovered a well kept secret. At the end of that evening I was asked to waltz. I said that I didn’t known how to waltz, but would be willing to try. He graciously took my hand, showed me the 1-2-3, 1-2-3 steps, and soon had me twirling around the dance floor. I felt like I was floating, as light as a cloud, like a child on a merry-go-round. “How could it get any better,” I wondered?
Well, it has continued to get better. I feel an enormous amount of gratitude toward the folkdance community in general, and especially toward the organizers and members of my local dance in Kalamazoo. It’s a great place to dance, without a doubt, but it’s the people that keep me coming back. See you on the dance floor!