‘Cause I wanna wrap you up
Wanna kiss your lips
I wanna make you feel wanted
And I wanna call you mine
Wanna hold your hand forever
Never let you forget it
Yeah I wanna make you feel wanted

—Wanted, Hunter Hayes

Dance tonight was such an ideal night. There was not a single moment I was not having fun. I had tons of opportunities to teach and tons of amazing dances with really good friends. So here’s my night:

It started with teaching by myself. I taught cha cha, then swing, then waltz and then foxtrot in the beginners class. I had maybe 12-16 students and some of them were beginner beginners, so that was a bit of a challenge and I had to adjust my class from what I’d normally teach to some easier steps, but I also taught some things I don’t generally teach right of the bat and they went well. A dear friend, Jordan Hardy who teaches 180 was an onlooker and pulled me aside after my class to tell me what a fantastic job of teaching I’d done. He said I did great commanding attention and having authority and he hadn’t seen those skills in my before.

I sat the first song out and then a night-club two step came on and I already knew who my dance partner would be; Yovhan Daas. He found me and we danced. His lead is so strong but gentle. It’s next to impossible to step in the wrong place when Yovhan is leading and I’m following. He never fails to compliment me on my following at the end of a dance and I take pride in that. The rhythm of nightclub coincides with some pattern buried deep down in my genes, so that when the music hits just right, endorphins spill from the perfect side-cross-side of my feet.

Hey soul sister, ain’t that Mr. Mister on the radio, stereo
The way you move ain’t fair you know
Hey soul sister, I don’t wanna miss a single thing you do tonight

—Hey, Soul Sister, Train

I’m hardly back on the carpeted area of the ballroom when I’m pulled out onto the floor again by another wonderful friend, Billy, for a Cha Cha. His style is so unique and such an interesting mix of moves from different dances but I follow all of it perfectly after switching over to the mindset of following his lead. He’s also a strong lead but very very different from Yovhan. Yovhan is gentle and precise in his guiding while Billy move quickly and always changes up the ending of every move. There’s no predicting what he’ll do. We make faces at each other while we dance, having so much fun with it. I catch glimpses between my turns of the beginners on the carpet watching our advanced dance, full of bronze and silver moves and styling.

After that I sit out another song before a Blues comes on and Billy takes me to dance once again. We’re the first ones on the dance floor and the mood is so different from the cha cha we’d danced earlier. The Cha Cha was sassy and playful. Our Blues is intimate, more simple and yet still full of moves not fit for a beginner. He does lots of turns and there’s lots of looking each other in the eyes. Billy likes to tickle me and tickles my neck so I duck under his arm and spin away but he catches me and spins me back into a closed embrace. All that’s on my mind is the dance and matching his rhythm. It’s dances like this that make me realize how much dance relies on your partner. It’s the best thing about ballroom dancing; two people become one and move together. Frankie Manning put it in the best way I understand it, “When you are dancing with your partner, for that two and a half minutes, you are in love with each other.”

Take me into your loving arms
Kiss me under the light of a thousand stars
Place your head on my beating heart
I’m thinking out loud
Maybe we found love right where we are.

—Thinking Out Loud, Ed Sheeran

I dance a Cha Cha with Garth and it’s something we’ve rehearsed a thousand times. By the time we start dancing we’re already halfway into the song so we don’t have time to do everything but it starts with technical basics and cross-body leads, then we do the chase and pull out all of our styling. He can do more than I can and does double spins and perfect tremendos, while I do single spins and half-okay tremendos. Usually I call him a showoff teasingly at this point. We finish out the dance with syncopated breaks and a rondes which we were taught in a class long ago by Pono and it took me months to get right but now I get it every time. It’s still not perfect but my feet go to the right places and I know what’s coming.

I’m out of breath now and planning to sit the next dance, a tango, out but my friends have other ideas. I’m talking to a friend but interrupted by a gentle hand on my back asking how I am with tango. I turn to tell Yovhan that I don’t know a whole lot but I’m willing to try and he willingly takes me out onto the dance floor again. I haven’t done very much tango at all and have a rule of saying no when inexperienced people ask me. I always say that I would say yes to someone like Pono or another really good dancer, but that never happens. Well tonight it did. I followed most of his moves but since I haven’t done tango in a long time, I needed a little verbal guidance with Yovhan was more than willing to help out with. He directed me and honestly enjoyed the dance. I felt amazing and for those few minutes was completely in love with tango. He told me once again that I was a great follow and that I catch on very quickly. I thanked him. He and my other friends have no idea how much these compliments mean to me. They light up my soul.

There were a few dancers with beginners and not as skilled dancers throughout the night. One with Alex, Lisa’s cousin, who is graduating this semester. I try to ask him to dance because he doesn’t get asked or ask people a lot and he’s always really happy to dance with me. We danced a cha cha and I simply let him make the conversation, following his unsure leads the best I could and being happy to be his friend. There was Justus, one of the ballroom managers who still is really inexperienced with dance and I had to guide him through a few steps but he tries really hard. Then there was Jason, an older fellow, who had just begun dancing this week. He asked me to dance several times for different dances, all of which required me telling him which foot to step on where and when.

I danced a Rumba with Tate, which is always fun. He knows I can follow and never shies away from the opportunity to teach me things that he’s learned in his higher up classes. He taught me three new moves and after a few times of doing them I caught on. Our Rumba was more of an instruction and time of learning for me than the real sensual and intimate feel that characterizes the Rumba, but I didn’t mind because just as Tate likes to teach, I love to learn.

There was one more dance with Billy, a swing because of course, Swing is where we met. We we’re both really tired by this point in the night though and found ourselves being a little sloppy but had fun with it anyways. I would turn the wrong way or he’d move too far away from me and we’d just laugh and jokingly ask the other what the heck they were doing. There was never a dull moment dancing with Billy.

He rocks in the tree tops all day long
Hoppin’ and a-boppin’ and singing his song
All the little birdies on Jaybird Street
Love to hear the robin go tweet tweet tweet

—Rockin Robin, Bobby Day

I danced a Samba with Ben and a Quickstep with Garth. Surprisingly, the Samba didn’t wear me out as much as it generally does. We hadn’t danced Samba before or at least not a lot so it took some time for both of us to get the feel of how the other dances. There were a few leads I was unsure of but I wasn’t sure if it was something I was doing or something he was doing that caused that. The Quickstep with Garth can be summed up in one word; exhausting. Garth has a lot longer of legs than I do so when he drives, he really travels far and I already knew I needed to drive more. I’ve finally got the pivots down okay but my footwork really needs work. It was fun though and I enjoyed it. We had to pause in the middle of the song to go use the microphone to tell people not doing Quickstep to get out of line of dance and out of our way.

I had to stop a couple of times throughout the night to look at the DJ because I realized he wasn’t announcing what type of dance each song was like the DJ’s normally do. But I knew every song, and every dance. I could have danced every single one. Two years ago, I couldn’t tell a cha cha from a nightclub twostep because I’d never even heard of nightclub, and now I can dance every single dance played at a social ballroom night. I’ve come so far and learned so much and even if I’m not the greatest dancer, I can say with total confidence that I am a good follow. I’ve learned to listen to my partner speaking to me through the hand on my back or an extra finger touching my hand when I’m supposed to stop spinning. I can usually tell exactly where my lead wants me to go and when I’m supposed to get there. I can lead others and be confident in it, communicating the same things to them that tell them where to go. When I’m following, I don’t have to pay attention to the fingers on my shoulder blade, they just put pressure in a certain way and my body knows exactly where to move and how to get there. The mix of the music and my partner’s frame can tell me what’s coming next and exactly when to stop spinning, when I’ll have time for my own styling or if we’re going to follow a routine. There’s so many unspoken words in dance, and not just the words that are saying what steps to do but also the feelings and emotion and connection that’s all concentrated right in that little bundle of a three minute song. Tonight was one of the best nights of dance I’ve had in awhile. I wasn’t worried about how I looked or why someone wasn’t talking to me or if someone was watching me dance. Tonight I just danced and had fun. More than anything, after all the different dances I was asked to dance song after song nearly nonstop, more than anything, I simply felt wanted.

Better shake, rattlesnake!

❤ Annee


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