Hello, it’s me. I’ve been wondering after all this time, you’d like a post?
I figured no one does an apology quite like Adele. Anyways, I do owe you one, dear readers. I have been settling in a new region of the U.S. along with starting a new grad program, so it’s been a time of adjustment and binge-watching Netflix for comfort.
As someone who likes to travel for lindy, adjusting to a new environment should be my favorite thing, right? It’s just a longer trip in between those weekend stints to other fantastic places on the other side of the wardrobe, right? Not exactly. It takes a while to re-settle down and find your lindy travel buddies. In the mean time, it can grow quite lonely.
When I hosted at Music City Shake, I was lucky enough to be amongst familiar faces to travel around the event. However, at most of the weeklies, I found myself keeping to the chairs on the side of the wall, reluctant to try and grasp a new friend circle in an entirely new community. I hate being the new kid, especially as an adult. In the midst of all this adjustment, I sheared my normal travel expenses to one local event and one out of state event outside of weekly dances.
So, how did that feel? Honestly, not as terrible as I thought it would be. I thought my FOMO (fear of missing out) radar would be through the roof come Lindy Focus time. However, the videographers always have the best seat in the house, so I found myself with the best views for eye-catching performances. I certainly don’t miss the Focus Flu after all those germs, the rude shoe cobbler I encountered two years ago, or the selectivity of dance partners based on levels. Now, I’m sure culture has changed, as it always has and will. Yet, this winter spent in the splendid embrace of Miami and on the high seas has not disappointed in the least.
So, I’ve been wondering recently why that is: why is it that I didn’t experience more FOMO in lindy? Perhaps my body, mind, and spirit really needed a break. Two years ago, I was part of a collegiate team, I taught swing dance lessons in town, and I devoted a large part of my schedule as a (very terrible) events coordinator/volunteer. I took intensives on Rhythm Juice with Sarah and Dax. I was at Frankie 100 as a volunteer, and even after a year of stress, I thought I was happy constantly on the road. So, as part of my year abroad, I taught dance to elementary school students. I traveled all over Asia for events, from the local Taipei Lindy Fest to HK Swing Fest and a balboa event with Crystal and Jeongwoo.
However, by the time I went to Singapore, I was burnt out. After losing 20 lbs. to stress from school, I was bone-thin. I had also twisted my ankle terribly in Hong Kong, so badly I couldn’t dance in the swing capital of Asia- Seoul, South Korea. Further, I had problems being accepted into the community overall. There was an edge of competitiveness in Taiwan I couldn’t live up to. Follows spent a lot of time gathered on the sidelines or dancing with people they knew. Heart broken and bitter, I spent nearly 6 months on hiatus outside of teaching swing to kids.
After taking an actual holiday from dancing this winter, I feel more at peace. Before, I craved attention from dance and I envied people like crazy. I was like this baby chicken that wanted to turn into a dove. I couldn’t fly (no aerials, seriously) and I looked kind of ridiculous. I was pretending or trying to be someone I wasn’t. Rather than invest in practice, I invested in more events and more privates, never once thinking that perhaps I just needed some time alone listening to music. I needed to know how to master who I was as a dancer, chicken or otherwise.
So, I want to talk about something magical that happened at Jump Session right before I went on holiday. I had this spectacular pair of sailor pants which just made me feel invincible for some reason. Also, a good friend I had met at LF two years before was coming to visit. Whether my break was finally over and Nashville had rejuvenated me or I finally felt comfortable in my own skin, I found some rhythm again. It wasn’t perfect, and I’m sure I blundered quite a bit, but I had an absolute blast. No FOMO, no anxiety, just unspeakable joy.
THAT’S what makes me want to dance. Not the pressure to succeed or the need to replicate dancer X’s swingouts…just loving the music and showing how much I do through my partner. That’s all. Nothing showy, nothing completely mapped out, but just enjoying that delayed triple, feeling the ripples in the wood floor from happy feet. I could live with that.
Learning to follow your own bliss gives others permission to do the same. It’s a win-win. Someone else’s accomplishments doesn’t mean you don’t get to improve at your own rate. No FOMO allowed, only, as we say in our program, “ready to learn, safe to practice.” If you’re an eager learner and a safe dancer, the world is your dance floor.
Wishing you happy feet!