10 Sep 2013
Packed into the back of my first beginner's swingdance class in a Dalston club, I'm already nervous. Then the instructor addresses the class: "This session will be a bit harder than usual". I turn to the friend who brought me, feeling betrayed. I nearly leave. Only grim determination and the knowledge that leaving is probably even more humiliating than staying keeps me there.
The class is gruelling. I don't have a pyramid of skills to support me here. I'm constantly a few beats behind, absorbed in my own footwork and struggling to remember what's coming next. It's like playing a DDR game that's going a little too quickly. Afterwards, I stumble outside dispirited, exhausted, and entirely unsurprised: this is who I am.
I'm still feeling good as the post-lesson music plays, and on impulse I seek out one of the people I'd enjoyed practicing with. I tap her on the shoulder, offer a hand, and suddenly it's on. Six count with triples, closed position into open, passbys, setting up for an aerial, lifting her and recovering, still on the beat. I throw in a spin learned weeks ago in another class, perhaps a little awkwardly, but successfully. Throughout the whole thing, we're carrying on a conversation.
By objective standards this is nothing exciting. It's a beginner's class, after all. But, sweating in the back of a dim room in Dalston in June, I could not imagine ever being able to do this. Now, I'm pleased, but I'm not in any way surprised.
The mind cannot understand how it used to be. I've read the research on this, about changing of opinions. Now I know that it applies to skills, too.
So, yes, you will be able to do this. And, when you can, you will deny that you ever could not.