My confidence grows on the dance floor
by DELANEY WALKER Banner Staff Writer
Aug 17, 2014 | 727 views | 0 0 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
I’ve never felt comfortable on the dance floor in spite of a love for dancing.

It tends to both frustrate and induce paralytic panic. My ears work fine and quickly note the rhythm of a song. However, a body which has proven fully capable on various athletic fields cannot seem to get its act together for the dance floor.

As Cleveland and Chattanooga offer little in the way of dance clubs, I do not often find myself in places where people are expected to gyrate, sway and twirl the night away.

However, Cleveland does have weddings — a lot of weddings. I would go as far as to say Cleveland has a plethora of weddings. And despite the heavy Church of God and Baptist influences, there is invariably a dance floor.

The sight once struck terror in my heart. Where some of my friends noted an ideal platform to strut their stuff, I saw an unfortunate space where so much could go wrong. My eyes immediately heightened the talent of anyone on the dance floor. Elderly relatives and shuffling teenagers suddenly became dancing kings and queens.

How could I compete with that kind of dancing mojo?

It was much safer munching on the hors’ d’oeuvres and making small talk with my tablemates. Sometimes when I flitted from group to group, I would stop to chat with several of my friends on the dance floor. As they energetically pumped fists, swayed hips and kicked up their feet, I would bob my head to the music as if I, too, were having the time of my life.

Some songs always acted as a siren’s call to my uncoordinated self, specifically the “Cha-Cha Slide,” “Electric Slide” and “Cupid Shuffle.” These were like dances with instructions. The man singing the song literally told me what to do.

He demanded I clap my hands, so I would raise them proudly beside my dancemates and clap away. We stomped our feet. We jumped. We were the lords and ladies of the dance floor.

And then I would hear the dreaded “hands on your knees” call. Everyone, young and old alike, would follow the command. Hands would be placed on the knees and then bodies would slowly make their way toward the ground.

Readers, let me tell you something. Placing one’s hands on said knees and crouching is about as conspicuous as a carrot in the green bean bowl. It is worse than a three-hour wait at the DMV. It feels about as long, too. I know it only takes about six seconds for everyone to go down and come back up, but it feels much longer.

Recently, I was at a wedding with a huge group of friends. Half of us hit the dance floor when the “Cha-Cha Slide” blasted from the speakers. It was going great until the dreaded “hands on your knees” call hit my ears. I was next to two of my guy friends and watched in abject horror as they hit the ground better than most girls I have seen.

As I am already in the habit of telling you my undignified moments, I might as well let you know I hightailed it off the dance floor before the next call was made. I dodged dancers, chairs and tables before coming to a breathless halt next to my friends. A lady must know her limits and I had just slammed my head against one of mine.

I’ve noticed a peculiar pattern in my dance participation as of late. It seems I have been jumping on the dance floor more and more with each wedding I attend. This is troubling.

Please remember there are only three songs with a set dance. All other songs require my imagination and natural rhythm to birth moves which scream MUSIC IN MOTION. Sometimes I think those two “abilities” create more punctuation marks than creative statements.

My go-to dance move, the alternating shoulder shrug, is like a series of commas. It acts as a slight break between my more creative endeavors. My hip swivel reminds me of an ellipsis. It is a time of contemplation as I consider which move to pull out next. Wild arm movements are clearly exclamation marks and random awkward gestures are question marks.

So I am not exactly prepared to take my dancing excursions to the next level.

And yet, I continually amp up the time I spend in creative movement. (It is really getting in the way of my cake-eating time.)

Why the sudden change? Nothing about my awkward adolescent self suggested I would voluntarily seek out dance time as a grown adult. Whether it is self-confidence or senility striking early, I find I not only dance more, but I enjoy myself, too.

There is still too much I feel self-conscious doing. There are still mountains to climb and rocks to overturn in my psyche, but this act of freedom in all of its uncoordinated glory will not be one of them. So while the movement is not a graceful or attractive one, it is one I enjoy.

Sadly my mother’s desire for grandkids and the looks of concern on the fellow wedding guests’ faces will not put a stop to this dancing machine.

I cringe to think of what I will look like as a 50-year-old strutting her stuff on the dance floor. At such a time, I will dare the Cha-Cha Slide to lay down its challenge with laughter on my face and not an ounce of discomfort.