Remember that post I made about swing dancing where I basically called it sexist? Well, it turns out it isn’t. Yep, I was completely wrong about that. Thanks to Metropolitan Coffee and Miriam, I now look at East Coast Swing in a completely different and very positive light.
On the last Sunday of the month, the tables and chairs give way to the creation of a dance floor at Metropolitan Coffee where the coffee shop’s amazing owners Jim and Myra Kitson teach swing dancing to anyone who wants to learn. They are both fantastic dancers and teachers too.
For years now, I have known swing dancing lessons were taking place at the Metro, which happens to be about a ten minute walk from my house; however, never had I partaken. In short, that was completely silly of me.
Armed with a New Year’s Resolution, I walked into the Metro a little before 7:30 PM, ordered a mint raspberry hot chocolate, and looked around the room at all the people waiting for the dancing to begin. Besides a few of my college students and a couple in their 50s, the average age seemed to be sixteen. Sipping my tasty drink, I thought about how awkward this might be if I became that older guy dancing with either my students or youngsters. When we were called to the dance floor to begin the lesson, it seemed that was going to be the case, but then the wonderful Miriam came to my rescue.
With seven years of dancing experience and an unbelievable amount of patience, Miriam helped me through the Kitsons’ fantastic lesson on some of the basics of East Coast Swing. The Sunday before in Wichita left me quite unsure of even the basic footing, but soon my three instructors that evening had me understanding what exactly was a rock step. Then during our first turn we were learning, Miriam said something that completely changed everything by letting me know I should make a subtle move with my hand to let her know what turn was coming.
It turns out swing dancing is full of these subtle moves which Miriam rightfully called “suggestions.” The lead is to make these, and then the one following gets to decide whether to take them. The idea of a dominant male ordering a woman to spin until she was dizzy was instantly replaced with the reality that dancing is a two-way conversation. And just like that, I was blown away and my unforeseen challenge from last week become just a silly ignorant thought. Rather, I had a new challenge: learn to be a better communicator on the dance floor and get these subtle moves down.
In addition to doing some possible recruiting for the Honors Program, two other extremely neat things took place. For one song, I asked Miriam, who by the way is dating a former student of mine who so graciously was letting me dance with his girlfriend, to take the lead, so I could get a sense on how to follow. It was fascinating and a great experience to get that perspective.
The second great thing was a wonderful surprise with the night ending on a nifty note with the last three songs being reserved for waltzing. And yep, the great and wonderful Miriam came to my rescue once more by helping me with the basic footing.
This New Year’s Resolution just jumped to a whole new level of fun, and I really cannot wait until the last Sunday of February to practice what I learned by just going to the great coffee shop down the road from my house.