My wife made a sour face. "Why can't you just have fun?" she asked. It was a familiar argument, my inability to have fun. We struggle with fun, because we have fundamentally different understandings of the concept. Tara measures fun by the amount of adventure in her life. Me, if I don't contract a disease, that's a good day.Read: Date Doomed By Bad Dancing?
Eventually, Autumn showed us the basic step (1,2,3—5,6,7) and a simple turn in the coat check room, while arriving dancers stared. I moved like a man with two peg legs.
The air in the studio was a marsh. Bodies whirled, hair and sweat flew. "Sometimes there's so much sweat in here that condensation forms on the ceiling and drips down," Autumn shouted in my ear. These people were not there to mingle. They were there to dance, with a ferocity that reminded me of a spinning class at the gym.
We ducked winging elbows and waded into the gyrating human soup. "Don't think, just feel the music," Tara hollered. We smiled tight smiles at each other. I was miserable, she knew it, and sort of resented me for it. I flailed through my basic step, no idea if I was keeping time correctly, aware of the men at my shoulder, waiting to show my wife how to Salsa. "Just feel the music," Tara shouted again. I nodded, but I could only feel my own discomfort. And then I lost my count. Autumn gestured for me to give Tara a turn, but I shook her off, like a pitcher who doesn't like his sign.
"Just feel the music," Autumn offered.
Let me say something about feeling the music, the cheerful lesson of every dance movie, and the prescribed wisdom of booty-shakers everywhere—this idea that a great dancer lives inside each of us, just waiting to burst out, if we'd only feel the music. I think I might more easily feel the force. It's, at best, meaningless advice, and at worst, a conspiracy against the uncoordinated. Read: The Dirty Dancing Guide to Romance
I gave up then, and watched another guy expertly twirl my wife around. I felt a kinship to Chris Penn in Footloose, pre-montage.