Saturday, November 7, 2015

Kizomba and the Single Life-Part 2

I was listening to a Kizomba CD on the way to work this week. I like the music because it’s soothing and hypnotic, and it allows the rhythms to marinate in my mind in between classes so that I can become more in tuned with the music and the dance. I did the same thing when I was learning belly dance. You would have thought I was from the Middle East as much Arabic music as I played.

I'm riding along and listening, and I begin reflecting on Monday night’s class. It was both fun and frustrating. Fun because the ladies in the class are hilarious. The camaraderie is good, so we joke and tease.  On Monday everybody was a bit subdued. Maybe it had something to do with the time change. Class starts at 8:00 pm, but I think our bodies were still in the 9:00 o’clock time slot.  Some of us were a bit challenged by the combination, and there were only two guys, so we kept going out of order, blaming the guys for messing up, and making faces.

We all have to dance with the instructor at some point, but I usually get to try it out a few times before it’s my turn. Not this time! One of the two guys, was Ken—the instructor. When it was my turn, I wasn’t feeling the combination. Something was off for me, and I was kicking myself because had been doing so well a couple of weeks prior. I felt like I was getting the hang of it, and Annet, the other instructor noticed, too and told me so. So, I was feeling pretty good—until Monday. I kept messing up, and nobody wants to get it wrong in front of the teacher!  Ken kept reminding me not to anticipate, and he told me not to help. I never did quite get the hang of that combination, but I left there with some reflections on dancing, relationships and life.

1. Trust is not given; it’s earned.  Trust your partner. That’s what I keep hearing, but on or off the dance floor, my partner needs to know that I will not follow him blindly. He doesn’t have to execute the steps perfectly, but I need to know that he won’t bail on me. No matter what we’re working on, one guy always says “We got this,” before we even start. And we may get it right, or we may not, but I know that as my partner, he’s got me.
2. it’s hard to be led by someone who doesn’t trust himself.  We’re in the class learning together, but some of the guys are so intent on getting it right, that they don’t allow room for error. If you mess up, so what? We’re going to do it again. If my partner doesn’t trust himself, why should I trust him? If I have to follow, my partner has to lead.

3. Be me. Everyone else is taken. There are people in the class who dance well.  I enjoy watching them dance, so I look to them for guidance and direction. I don’t want to be a carbon copy of them no matter how well they dance. I can take pointers, but I must ultimately find my own way and it will be at my pace, and that’s ok.

4. Put my cape away. Yep, that I'm independent woman likes to show up to class, too even when I try to tell her she’s staying home for the evening. I love her to life, but this is the one time I need for her to take a seat.  I need to learn to follow, as Clarence, one of the instructors likes to remind follows, submit, submit, submit. Not in a 50 Shades of Grey type of way, but to allows my partner to lead me through this dance. This brings me to my final point.

5. Relax! Woo sa, woo sa.  It’s a dance class. If I knew what I was doing, I wouldn’t be here. Some things will come easier than others, and when I don’t get it, there’s always the next class.
These lessons come in handy on the dance floor and in life. Until the next time, happy dancing!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Kizomba and the Single Life

The first time I saw Kizomba, I fell in love with the dance. It’s a sexy, sensual, sizzling couple’s dance out of Angola.  I was determined that when an opportunity presented itself for me to learn this dance, I was going to learn it. I take classes with Black Diamond Steppers Elite who also teach Kizomba. 

I’ve been taking classes for a few months now with Ken, Annette and the rest of their crew. As Ken says, “It’s easy to learn, but hard to master.” Kizomba is a dance that must be felt. It’s a dance of connection. It’s not grinding or dry humping or any other form of “nasty” dancing, but it is definitely hot when it’s done right!
Every week we review the basics, and learn a combination or two.  But a couple of weeks ago, Annette and Ken decided to have us change things up a bit and work on connection. The activity sounded simple. Leads had to be able to execute the steps for Follows without the use of arms and hands. It’s the Lead’s job to lead and the Follow’s job to keep the connection, the instructors said. 

In every class, we practice the moves and we always switch partners because it gives a chance to dance with different people and adjust to the various styling that we bring to the dance individually. The night was no different. We have to stand chest to chest or cheek to cheek to make sure that we are “connecting” with our partner in the way that we need to be. We’re partnered off forming a circle around Annette who’s going to lead us. She uses her fingers to show the Leads what steps to take while the Follows have our eyes closed. No peeking and no anticipation.  This forces partners to connect. 

Ken is in the circle as a Lead because there are usually more women in the class than men.  He stands facing his partner.  Just so happens that my partner is the guy of Ken’s partner. Annette reminds us that we have to stand close to our partner. Me and my partner are chests pressed ready to go; His girl is not. She’s hesitant to move closer to Ken. There’s a pregnant pause. Then her guy assures her that it’s ok. Everybody laughs except me and the woman moves closer to Ken.

I’m feeling weird. My melon-sized breasts are pressed against this man’s body, and I don’t know what to do. Should I step back and wait for her to give him the ok?  Should we trade partners? No because we’re going to switch partners after doing it two or three times. The music starts and we stumble through “connecting” laughing because it’s challenging to dance without using our arms and hands. We practice connecting for a while and then we move into the combination we’re working on for the week, and the remainder of the class goes well. But I’m left pondering what happened.

 I didn’t know if the discomfort was just her or if her guy was going to be trippin’ later. I also didn’t understand why she felt she needed permission to move closer to her partner, when her guy was not struggling in the least bit with us standing close together.  Why take a class like Kizomba if either partner is insecure or jealous? Or make it known that you only want to dance with your significant other. 

This incident reminded that the rules are always different for women than they are for men. And I wonder if my resistance to this double standard is why I remain single? Shouldn’t respect for a relationship go both ways? I don’t want the burden of maintaining relationship to rest squarely on my shoulders. That’s too much of a load to carry. If there are compromises and concessions to be made, they have to be made by both.
I love dancing Kizomba. And I hope to find a dancer and we connect in a way that allows us both to enjoy the dance to the fullest. If he’s unattached, that will make it all the more better.