Tuesday, March 13, 2007

At the Contra Dance, Don’t Be a Sandinista

You’re trying to understand what the caller just said. “Hay?” Some tall sweaty guy with a band about his brow slaps his own shoulder and points sternly. Ah, you see that you should pass him on that side, thank you very much. He’s a coder by day, moved up in the world because he can find the no-frills cheap solutions, the quickest way out, get in the car, we have to go. You were just now headed there, your arms full of stuffed animals and little trucks you absolutely have to take with you on a long trip, that you just spent too long looking for under the bed and in the rec room, and the car door has been opened for you, but you’re not moving fast enough for Dad and he shoves you from behind and says, “Now look up the line.”

Confused, you look at him instead. What’s the line, and which way is “up”? He doesn’t understand that you've memorized about 130 moves of a silver level American ballroom syllabus. You know “diagonal wall,” “diagonal center,” “counter body movement,” “outside partner,” “backing line of dance.” You don’t need to take this from him.

He has broken rhythm, left his partner waiting, to point the way for you ‘cause apparently you look like you need it. “Look up the line.” Oh yes, he meant, look for the next partner because she’s coming and are you ready for her?

They have said to look into your partner’s eyes to keep from getting dizzy. She’s smiling, she’s looking into yours. You try it, and the world behind her head whirls in your peripheral vision, makes your eyeballs ache, and you must look away. Don’t they know, you look to distant spots, hold your vision on them before snapping to the next one. Don’t look at your partner, she’ll make you sick.

You know how to back-spot-turn in one beat, get your partner around and you’re finished, waiting for the others to catch up for the remaining 3 beats. But here they’re all skipping around each other faster still and more leisurely, swinging by linked elbows, looking into each other’s eyes, and arriving at the right time. It’s wrong, and they’re happy.

Here come the next eyes, a pair you had spied across the room earlier, smiling at someone else you presumed was her boyfriend. Now she’s inches away, smiling at you. Can you trust those eyes and let the world whirl where it may?

1 comment:

Phil said...

"Now she’s inches away, smiling at you. Can you trust those eyes for the full instant, and let the world whirl here it may?"

In my own personal experience, the answer is "Aw, hell no." But that's just me. That's why I don't go to them things very often. Not unless there's a wedding.