Dropping In

I’m done with the semester and back at home! What I wrote on the plane last night between episodes of Full House and JetBlue popcorn chips:

Since my finals week this semester lasted longer than my actual finals (don’t hate me–I had a lot of paper finals that were already turned in) I spent a lot of the time taking open dance classes around the city. Particularly, I spent some time in classes that I’ve never taken before, probably won’t take again anytime in the foreseeable future, and didn’t expect to be particularly good at.

Steps Lobby

See, there are two types of people in an open class: the regulars and the randos.

The benefits of being a regular are pretty obvious. You form relationships with teachers and other dancers. You become more familiar with the style and can work on a deeper, more detailed level. You hopefully get more personal attention and corrections over time. You have a name.

So why be a rando?

Sometimes it’s out of scheduling necessity (e.g. your schedule only lets you take that class during finals week), but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have its perks.

Worst case, you’re invisible. Best case, the instructor takes personal interest in you, wants to know your name and background, and gives specific feedback.

But either way, you get thrown into a strange, new world with nothing to lose. Sure, there’s a chance to make a first impression, but there’s no reputation, no expectations following you. Whatever you do now is what you are here. (But only for 90 minutes.)

You’ll get confused and a little lost and thrown off your game, and you’ll have to get a little stronger and smarter as you find your way back on. You can ride that first, fast part of the learning curve, even if you don’t look amazing while doing it.

And there’s something kind of special about knowing that whatever happens in that 90 minutes has never happened to you before and may never happen to you again. It’s not a replacement for what you do every day, but it has its own charm.

Because eventually, all dance studios and dance classes start to feel a little like home, no matter where on earth you are or who you’re with. And dropping in is like a little test of how quickly you can find a home in an unfamiliar setting, at least until you let go of it once again to find a new one.