not Fred and Ginger; not Richard and Jennifer

Learning something new isn't easy. Particularly if it involves walking backwards with an occasional dip or twirl.

This week, my husband and I had our first "Beginning Ballroom Dancing" class through an adult education program at a local high school. Our registration was motivated in part by a desire to do something together and a bit different and in part by the movie Shall We Dance?, starring Richard Gere and Jennifer Lopez, who made ballroom dancing for the beginner look fun and oh-so-easy.

We spent the evening learning the s-l-ow--s-l-o-w--quick/quick step of the fox trot--and other steps of other dances that I've already forgotten--to the music of Bobby Darin (think: "Beyond the Sea"). It should come as no surprise that we weren't exactly Richard and Jennifer. My less-than-successful efforts to move in a coordinated fashion across the school gymnasium floor reminded me of my junior-high years when I would ask every physical education teacher if she graded on effort rather than accomplishment. Predictably, the response was never the one I wanted. In fact, one teacher--knowing my more academic interests--had the spunk to reply, "And would you expect a math teacher to grade only on effort?" It would have been useless to argue.

Thankfully, our dance teacher will give no grade.

We may not have been Richard and Jennifer on the dance floor, but that's ok. Borrowing the words of Martha Stewart, "it's a good thing" to be just ordinary people in a group of ordinary people, all of whom are trying something new and being willing to look a little ridiculous in the process. (Although it must be said that some couples in the group looked a little less ridiculous than others. Clearly these couples registered for the wrong class or else planted themselves among us beginners to either taunt us in our ineptness or spur us on to success through their example.)

Reasons why it's a good thing:

  • Excercise? Yes!
  • Doing vs. watching? Yes!
  • Learning a new thing? Yes!
  • Development of bodily-kinesthetic intelligence? Yes!
  • Involvement in our community? Yes!
  • Romance? Yes! (Once we get past glaring at each other for missteps :))
  • Excuse to later buy a new fancy dress? Yes!
  • Preparedness for future ball invitations? Yes! :)

There are worse ways to spend a cold January evening.