Day 17: Brooklyn Contra Dancing

Random Observation/Comment #304: I am not a good dancer. I have hands for feet and I’m all thumbs (I guess that would mean I dance like a monkey). At a club, I was the one open enough to go on the dance floor, but mostly just awkwardly swaying back and forth.  Clubs are so weird…

What is contra dancing? I had no idea until 3 hours ago when I started as a beginner and learned all the fun twirling moves and got to meet plenty of new friendly people of all ages.  Actually – I still don’t really know what it is, but it’s so freaking fun.  Swing your partner round and round.

The Challenge:
Take a dancing class (Brian suggested Brooklyn Contra and gave me an event date).

The Reason:
I want to get outside of my comfort zone with this 30 day challenge and try things that slightly intimidate me. Dancing was something that fit this challenge description quite well.  It’s obviously filled with emotion and passion, yet I feel like a tone deaf singer – I would sing, but no one else would enjoy it.  In order to be an admirer of this choreographed expression of art, I needed to learn a few moves.

The Result:
Starting at 7:30PM tonight, I danced like a stumbling maniac until 10PM.  I had no prior knowledge to what this dance entailed, but it was extremely easy to pick up and even easier to enjoy.  Brooklyn Contra is a contra dance community filled with all ages, shapes, sizes, and levels of experience. Everyone is extremely friendly and I finally found a way to not only move my feet in some synchronized manner, but also have a fun time doing so.

The organizer of the event spoke with a cheerful voice and lead the class like a conductor to an orchestra. She gave clear directions and eased the crowd of at least 100 dancers into a cheerful party.  Imagine a huge Cotton Eye Joe dance-along, but with much cooler moves and a lot more spinning.  The basics are easy to grasp and the dances go on for about 10-15 minutes where you stick with your partner for the dance and also work your way down the line to dance with the other couples.

The dances are rather unique and feel like a combination of twirling clockwise and counter-clockwise moves to prevent the dancers from getting too dizzy.  The extremely cool part of it is the brief, innocent, and friendly intimacy you get with strangers as you repeat the dance moves up and down the set.  One of my favorite dances gave me a bit of tunnel vision as I was spinning around and just saw a series of different faces and smiles for a full 15 minutes.  My feet were tired and I was sweating by the end of it, and boy was it exhilarating.

Here are some more photos:

The Conclusion:
If you’d like my personal review, I’d say “What are you waiting for?”  You’ll meet so many great people and feel this strange group belonging.  When I knew the moves, anything I did just felt right.  We all swayed and swung like a coordinated dance and the empty warehouse was filled with the happiest people I’ve ever seen.

This was an extremely pleasant surprise to my search for new activities.  Similar to my anti-gravity yoga experience, I am thrilled to try this again.  It’s like DDR in real life.

~See Lemons Dance Dance Revolution