Movin’ On…

Dance metaphors are just appropriate for life, don’t you agree?

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Today is my last day teaching at the Budapest Refugee Center…and I feel kind of shaky. I don’t want to leave the students I’ve been teaching the last few weeks. I don’t want to leave Budapest. I don’t want to deal with anything back home…I don’t want to take the GRE, listen to people complain about petty things or get yelled at any more than I already have for things I need to do. I want to stay here until the storm blows over.

Okay, so where does lindy hop come in amidst all this trouble? I have to keep travelin’ on, I guess. Sure, the routine of a good lindy circle is addicting and safe, but once in a while, you have to throw in a swing-out for good measure. It was a risk to try a new move and come out here, it’s a technical risk to go back home. Honestly, I’m not going to miss the unnecessary drama over frivolous things. In Budapest, you can probably just settle something over gelato or a look over the Chain Bridge. & all that jazz….

So, some tips on reverse culture shock or…{changing back into lindy hop after a tandem Charleston session}:

1. Get into a New Groove

What worked abroad is not going to work back home. As much as you loved your trip, your friends do not want to hear about it in 2 hour sessions. Think cool solo jazz move–it’s cool for a 4 count interlude, but dance too long by yourself and your partners feel neglected. You have to let your partner show off too. Ask people what they’ve done this summer and their awesome trips or revelations.

2. Assuming Old Positions

This one’s hard. Especially if you’ve had so much fun in tandem, it’s hard to go back and do what you always did. The great thing about this? You might have the same position or same steps, but you’re not the same person anymore. Perhaps you have stronger technique or greater flair. In a dance, you don’t say, “Hey, check out my new technique, isn’t it grand?” No, no you don’t. You just dance and people catch on eventually. If you tell them, they just get annoyed and thin-lipped. C’est la vie.

3. Artistic Differences

This is going to happen. In fact, it’s already happened to me. In any group, no matter how long you’ve known each other or on however friendly terms you left it, each situation is a new dance. Artistic differences in style will force everyone to make adjustments. The trick is to just be innovative and flexible. Don’t get stuck in a rut and get stubborn. If people want to argue and fight, choose peace instead. Fighting isn’t productive and once they get tired of swinging punches, they’ll realize the whole situation was a dance instead of a boxing match. Take the high road, tiny dancer.

4. Get What’s Comin’

Sometimes, you see a disaster about to happen when you go back. Sometimes, you get your just desserts. Either way, the ball’s gonna keep rollin’, whether you face it with fear or dignity. In a dance, you choose fun, new moves over the same routine, right? Well, at least I’d like to. In life, you must do the same. Roll with the punches, lead or follow into new territory…but what you choose to do during is entirely up to you. I choose to follow, but I choose not to be made a fool of. Insult me, talk down to me or argue all you like, I’m not going to sink down to your level or play dirty. That’s just not how I dance.

5. Forgive, but don’t Forget

Forgive the dancer who steps on your toes and doesn’t swing you out too far. Why would you forget where he steps or how he leads? Remembering helps you avoid pitfalls and tripping over his feet. The same goes for forgiving people back home who have been less than friendly to you. Everyone has an excuse for their rudeness or bluntness, I’ll give them that. I’ll be the first one to forgive, but the last one to forget. Remembering helps dancers avoid missteps and dumb mistakes. The same goes for those seeking out grievances. Don’t feed into it. Remember the old adage of the sandpaper and diamond. Let them rough you up and you’ll shine.

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