One More Time

Swing Dancing, Part 75


On Monday, January 8, I took a swing dance lesson. I don’t know why I love swing.  That’s because no matter how many times I take these lessons, I screw it up.

“Experiments with Michael” is supposed to tell tales of things I’ve tried for the first time.  But technically, I’ve taken about seven dozen swing lessons.  I have two problems:

* I’m good enough just to suck and not bad enough to quit.   I can get the footwork.  I get the rhythm.  I can do the turns, spin the girl, do the pretzel, and have fun with style.  So what can’t I do?

I can’t do any of these things at the same time.

Footwork good? That means I’m off-beat.  I managed the turn?  Great—but on the wrong side.  And remembering more than three moves?  Forget it.  If you dance with me, you’ll rock-step forwards, backwards, forwards, backwards, forwards, backwards…backwards…backwards…backwards….

* And yet I love it.  I have a crush on The Great Gatsby.  I love all things 1920s.  The style, the fast living, jazz, and Zelda and Scott’s crazy fun exotic wildness, their overwrought literary intelligence combined with their self-destructiveness.  I love the wealth, the new 1920s tech (Cars! Radios! Movies with sound!), the 1920s adventures (we’re going to the South Pole with Edward Shackleton!).  I love the soaring feeling of limitless possibility–

I just ignore how it ended in a Depression where everyone waited for Hitler.

I’m sure it’s because my lifestyle is too Spartan.  I lift weights every day, eat Paleo 99.9% of the time, and have been called by more than one friend to be “the most self-disciplined man I know.”


That said, I went to Allegro and took a 45-minute lesson.  It was awesome!  It was depressing.  It was fun being in motion!  It filled with me endless yearning.

Awesome: the friendly instructors Chris & Liz were crystal clear.  They deeply want people to succeed.  As a teacher, I try to be that way.  I hope I am.  Teachers with that much heart are my role models.

Depressing: How many times have I done this?! Every several years.  What I really need are private lessons, which are too expense.  And I need them every day.  But I’m already very scheduled.  Anything I could cut is something I actually love more.

Fun being in motion: the class had five men & five women.  The women were kind and eager to learn.  A joy!

Endless yearning: Well, I am single. And that’s the heart of the problem, right?


So, I’ll keep going back, even though for me, it is not easy.  Lessons start three hours before I go to sleep, so they are at the end of the day.  I have to drive, pay $10, talk with nice strangers, and suppress every time in my memory that I’ve started these lessons and completed them without really learning very much.

This time.  This time is different.  I’m determined to prove that.


January 8, 2018