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Joanne Zimbler
Dance Classes
Lindy Hop
Kakes Studio
United States
Boulder, CO

Seeking Friendship in the Front Range - Lindy Hop in Boulder, Colorado

by Joanne Zimbler
October 29, 2014
Kakes Studio
2115 Pearl Street
Boulder, CO 80302
(303) 444-5353
Making new friends is not an easy thing to do once you reach a certain age - especially the age at which the significant majority of your peers are tucked away at home with their families, inaccessible and uninterested in your invitations to join you in your single woman activities. Now add moving to a new town in which you know no one to the equation, where at least though you have going for you a new desperation that you hope will translate to swift and decisive action. Thrust way out of your comfort zone is when you learn to get creative and try new things and, honestly, when life can start to get interesting. This is why you moved, to shake things up and reinvigorate yourself, to force yourself into new contexts, contexts you avoided back in your hometown because you were too comfortable, too complacent, too stuck in your rut. For me, the decision to move from L.A. to Boulder, Colorado is a decision to end that comfort and get - dancing!

Dancing! A great way to meet people, right? That's what I'm hoping as I've decided to reacquaint myself with the side of me that likes to boogie and hopefully in the process to acquaint myself with some new - acquaintances?! So, in just my second week here in Boulder, set against a beautiful fall backdrop, I decided to set out to a swing dance class - a Lindy Hop class to be specific. I've got a fairly extensive background in ballet, modern and other forms of dance. But attempting to meet new people doing these types of dance seems less likely to yield a quick set of new acquaintances than a dance form which literally forces you into the arms of another person. So what better way to meet new people than to go dancing with some nice, new men, or at least get jumping to some hot licks with some jiving cats!

So there we were, standing around nervously before the class, like kids at a high school dance in an 80's movie. Who will ask me to dance? Who do I want to dance with? Will anyone want to dance with me or do they like the tall lithe confident looking woman in the pretty green sweater over to my right better? Who are these people and are there really more men here than women? Wow. I was stunned as I was expecting this to be disproportionately women. Why were some of these people practicing steps? Had they been here before and had I missed important lessons which would prohibit me from keeping up? Do we really have to touch each other in such an intimate looking way? What a strange thing to do. Oh my god - this was starting to feel like a high school dance and the longer I stood there, waiting, with these thoughts running through my head, the more flustered I felt and the more I considered fleeing the scene. It would be ignominious yes, but not quite as disgraceful as being humiliated on the dance floor by both the rejection and two left feet which I was now sure awaited me .

My mind raced and my heart pounded as I forced a look of confidence, trying to stand very still to bely my true panic. "Out on the floor" the instructor suddenly bellowed. Disorientedly, heart still pounding, I moved out across the studio floor along with the other anxious looking would-be swing dancers into a circle where we were instructed to follow along and copy the instructor's moves. Kicks, shoulder rolls, bends - okay, I'm getting looser, I thought. Maybe this will get some endorphins going to mitigate the adrenaline or whatever chemical it is that causes a fight or flight response. Yes, this feels good. Yes, let's do this all night. We don't really have to do partner dancing right away, right?! That seems too advanced anyways for beginners. I'm sure we'll have to just move individually all night in order to just learn to feel comfortable with some steps. Trying to assuage my fears, I told myself this while we warmed up. I hadn't anticipated a full blown cotillion PTSD experience in which I'd be thrust back into 7th grade, anxious, sweating, and embarrassed. But here I was- an adult woman with actual experiences of requited desire and attraction - which had seemingly done nothing, as was now apparent, to heal my junior high school humiliations and self recriminations about not being attractive or appealing enough.

"Find a partner," the male instructor called suddenly, interrupting my solo exercises and internal agonizing. Whoa, what? Who? Uhhh…. more panic. But then- a young man, dark pink flannel shirt, at my side. Hi I stammered. Hello he replied. "Now in position". Suddenly, it was happening. I was dancing, strange man holding me and all. The first few steps of the instructor's that we were copying were so simple which was a relief because it gave me a chance to acclimate to this new strange feeling of a strange man with his arm around me, holding my hand, without being too overwhelmed by complicated steps. "Rock step, triple step," the instructor kept calling as we rocked back on one foot and shuffled in a triple step forward. "Okay", this is going well I thought. This is easy and he seems nice. Rock step, triple step - the basics of Lindy Hop. Wow. In the mirror, we actually look like we're almost kinda, well not swing dancing dancing, but maybe, dancing. "And rotate". Uh, what? No, I resisted. Ladies are supposed to rotate to the next man? But hey, doesn't the instructor know that I'm just getting comfortable with this guy? And a moment later, propelled along by a force I can't account for, I had my arm around another fine fellow who seemingly was just as friendly and unexpectedly unintimidating as my pink shirt guy.

Before I knew it, the pace was picking up to a rhythm that my self- critical junior high school mindset couldn't keep up with. We were moving quickly, doing new steps now, with different partners. And there was music, pulsating music with funky beats that out paced my fledgling doubts and self reproaches. And hey, this was dance class. I know how to dance, I know how to follow instructions. I've got that going for me. And it was necessary to focus, to pay attention because these were new steps and there was this person, these people, counting on me to keep up so as not to diminish their good time. And that's when I realized it- this was a good time, I was having a good time. As I acknowledged the thought, my fears dissipated, my feet moved and my heart pounded, only now it was in tune to the rhythm of the music instead of the throbbing of my ancient adolescent fears.

Finding some freedom and even comfort, way outside of my comfort zone, is something I didn't expect to happen so quickly. But there is something about dance that just does that, lets you visit parts of yourself that you didn't know were still there and integrates all of your many sides into a whole, at least for a moment. And at least for a moment you transcend your fears, traumas, and insecurities and are freer than at any other time in your day. And that's why I know I'm going to be making new friends here because now that I'm feeling the rhythm, it's a fact that no one's gonna stop me from coming back, daddy-o!
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