Confession Time

Yes, it’s confession time here. I make no great effort to hide it, I’m a geek. Geeks come in a lot of varieties. I’m in quite a few of the categories. The most recent one is obviously blogger geek. I’m also a reading geek (of the even worse science fiction geek category), a video gamer geek, and a (slight) movie geek. For several years I’ve been a geek of another variety that just doesn’t go well with all the above mentioned categories.

What am I talking about? I’m a dance geek too. Not so much the ‘go to a club and grind it’ kind of dance. I’m talking more about the ballroom kind of dancing. Waltz, tango, salsa, rumba, and swing, that kind of dancing. See what I mean about it clashing with my other geekdoms? All those other kinds sort of passively discourage female involvement, but this one requires active participation by the Other Gender.

I’ll admit it. One of the reasons I decided to become a ballroom geek was to meet people, especially people of the female variety. I was pretty new in Nashville, so I was willing to be open minded about how to meet new people. And cultivating a hobby that most women have at least a passing interest in seemed like a good way to meet some of them.

It worked too. I started taking ballroom dance lessons, and I definitely met people. The thing was, most of them were widows my grandmother’s age, or the young hot instructors who were nice to you so you’d pay them for lessons. Still, it was a good start, and once I got some rhythm I branched out to nightclubs and places dances held around town. I made lots of interesting friends of both the male and female variety that weren’t trying to sell me something or be my grandmother.

I once had a girl I was romancing at the time tell me that “Dancing with you makes me feel like Cinderella.” Now let me tell you imaginary male readers, making a girl feel like a princess is pretty much never a bad thing. Imaginary female readers, back me up on this one please. Things didn’t work out with her, but we both have some very excellent memories of that night. I imagine the security guards at Opryland Hotel have some pretty interesting memories of that night as well.

I’m rusty these days, but I used to be pretty good. Ballroom instructors don’t work on the cheap (apparently all those spangles and rhinestones are expensive), and you have to actively look in order to find a place to use your skills, so those have fallen by the wayside. My swing skills are still pretty good though. It’s not too hard to find some place to swing. So I can’t waltz very well anymore, but I can still pull off a sweet inside dip. There’s few better ways than that to sweep a girl off her feet.

It isn’t all about meeting women, that’s just the most fun. I’ve personally made a few dollars (emphasis on few) at it, and known people that made more than a few. HBO once hired me to dance at the Fort Campbell reception for the premiere of Band of Brothers. The United Way hired dancers for their annual banquet to honor their donors. The pinnacle was probably when several friends were hired to be in the Brad Paisley & Allison Krauss video Whiskey Lullaby.

Whenever I confess to that hobby I automatically hear, “So where do you go to dance?”. Like I said, unless you’re actively taking lessons, you have to work a little to find places for ballroom dancing, but it’s possible. And there are a surprising number of places you can go for swing dancing. I know where to find a swing dance on pretty much any Saturday night.

Back in the days when I started learning swing was having a bit of a comeback with Brian Setzer and the Gap commercial, so there were lots of clubs sponsoring swing nights. Some of my earliest public dancing was at Bar Nashville, and swing night at Dancin’ in the District. These days though, most of them are sponsored by one church or another. That has both ups and downs. The atmosphere is very different at a church sponsored event. It doesn’t feel as much like a night out on the town, but the crowds are much more friendly and less predatory (though usually a lot younger).

Anyhow, I went through all of that to essentially say one thing. Pink Kitty has gotten to me. I haven’t been out to dance for a long time, but reading all her stories has convinced me I need to get out this weekend. So this weekend I’m going dancing in Brentwood. This dance is at the newly named Otter Creek Church on Franklin Road. They have free lessons for newbies starting at 7:30 and a live swing band from 8:30 to 11:00 so come down and try something new.

Oh yeah, and find places to try the other ballroom styles here. Also stop by Centennial Park on Saturdays nights in the summer and you’ll find a big band playing and lots of people dancing at the band shell. Metro sponsors free big band concerts every week from June 3 through September 30. They always draw a crowd.


Blogger SistaSmiff said...

Back about 5 years ago, when Mr. Smiff and I were on a "vacation" from each other, I went swing dancing at the now expired Knowles Senior Citizens Center...that bunch moved about but I bet it's the same group. That was FUN! It was not really predatory except the night former Nashville mayor Bill Boner showed up and was hitting on my friend like crazy. It was worth the divorce to get to see that.

11:35 AM, April 03, 2006  
Blogger Exador said...

You might want to try Zydeco dancing. Plenty O' chicks, and fun fun fun music.

9:52 AM, April 11, 2006  

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