I am so glad that it’s summer right now. Summer is my favourite season, and I have hard time choosing a favourite activity for the summer. I definitely enjoy quietly reading a book on my balcony.
I also like to be outside as much as possible, and to be active. This sometimes means doing things that by their very nature require interaction with other people who may not be well-known to me, but are fun anyway. It starts innocently enough with me enjoying the festivities from afar, and then it expands to include me.
There are times when I’m sitting on my balcony and I can hear music. Sometimes that music is coming from a neighbour’s back yard (I have a neighbour that likes to host parties on special occasions), and sometimes it’s coming from the village square. Now and then I’ll wander over to the village square to see what the music is all about. Sometimes I can tell what the music is, and I’ll wander over there on purpose to do some dancing: Outside, where other people can see. What might surprise some of you who have been following my blog is that I like dancing; Latin dancing in particular. I don’t even might if people are looking on. Being part of an actual performance, however, is a different story. Someone else can write about that.
Dancing Outside, in the street
Latin Dancing can be very expressive, with lots of styling with the hands and arms (if you’re the follower), shines (where both the lead and the follow do their own moves to show off for their partner), and yes laughter when we make mistakes. I have learned to laugh off the mistakes and keep trying. There is the worry that “oh no, they’ll never want to dance with me again!”, but usually the mistakes aren’t that bad. I mean, I’ve never killed anyone or done anything that required stitches; that I know of.
With all that being said, I dance like an introvert. I have a limited number of times that I am willing to stick my arms out, or up, so as to not call too much attention to myself. I’m on a mission to be the most inconspicuous salsa-dancer in the world! I get it: that’s sometimes the point of this style of dancing. And to those who love to show off, I say let them! It’s true that at times I’ve been dancing with someone and they do something super fancy, and I forget to keep dancing; my feet literally stop moving I’m so mesmerized by their moves. Once they’ve finished their fancy steps, or I get caught with my feet standing still (because the fancy thing the lead was doing was supposed to incorporate me too), I apologize: “Sorry, I was mesmerized by your fancy moves.” My dancing partner (and by the way, this has happened more than once) usually laughs in disbelief and makes a funny face as if to say “okay…” Sometimes I get a boost for my ego as well when they say: “You’re so funny!”
I have been mesmerized, and at times the truth is that my mind wanders and I’m not entirely focussed on what’s happening outside my own head in the moment. I may have become distracted by what’s playing on my internal thought loop, thinking about who I’d like to dance with next (and won’t they be so impressed by my much-improved quiet, unassuming, and non-injurious moves!), or getting a pair of dancing shoes better suited to outdoor dancing.
In an outdoor setting, the audience tends to come and go as they visit other places and things going on in the area. They come and go, they pull up chairs, and they get comfortable. Some are there for the music, others are there to dance, and still others are there to have somewhere to eat their ice cream. Nobody’s there to see me dance, and that’s quite alright.
It’s okay for introverts to dance in an outdoor scenario like this, because it is social, it’s not a performance, and you’re in a crowd of people who are also dancing. Just keep your hands and arms inside the (dancing) frame. Not only does this keep you from getting noticed by the audience and other on-lookers, but it also keeps you from accidentally smacking someone in the face. Dancing like an introvert may not look fancy, and may have your dance-partner looking puzzled, but it’s the safe way to do it.
Something to remember is that the “audience” has so much to look at that they’re not focussed on you. Okay, maybe it looks like a stage, but the fact that anyone can step onto it front the street at any time, means it’s really just a dance floor.
Rant alert: And the audience can get up and join in at any time, especially when the “free dance lesson” is being offered. Don’t just sit there and watch, people! This isn’t a free show! Get up and dance, right where you are! Honestly, if I’m extraverting this hard, get off your butts and start dancing!
Some of us introverts tend not to be fond of are crowds, which is something else that could make my love of dancing outside amongst a crowd of people seem weird. That’s how much I like dancing: that I’m willing to dance with someone who may or may not be familiar to me, surrounded by other people I know little about, and risk potential injury. It gets dangerous out there with those high heels and misplaced steps (my latest injury has just healed). I am an introvert though, so I don’t scream (that would draw too much attention). I just say “ouch”, shoot a dirty look at the back of the person’s head on my next turn, and continue dancing. The dirty look doesn’t hurt them as much as my foot hurts, but that dirty look to the back of their head will make sure they know not to do it again! The lesson is: just keep dancing. Eventually the pain goes away.
The Best Parts
The best parts of participating in outdoor Latin-Dancing are that it’s relaxed, it’s social (there’s no end to the weirdness of this social introvert), and it’s outside.
Being summer, everyone is generally more relaxed, especially since we’re dancing in the street. Think of the freedom! That much freedom really helps us introverts relax. And this type of event tends to draw people in who aren’t worried about much (except their dance moves).
From a social stand-point, one of the greatest things for introverts about getting into dancing is seeing familiar faces. If you do this dancing thing long enough, you get to see the same people at the same types of events, which is great for introverts because of the thing some of us have about not liking strangers. If you are okay with meeting strangers, and that’s something that you want to do, an outdoor dancing event where people can see what other people are doing is a safe place to do this. Plus, if somebody creeps you out, you can always say “no” when they ask you to dance with them. So, dancing is also a great confidence-builder.
I like being outside – a lot. When the evening weather is warm, and the air is fresh, it’s a great atmosphere for dancing. Does this mean I let me hair down? Let’s not get crazy: I’m still me, but I’m it’s still a nice way to dance.
Save the Next Dance
As I think about the next time I’ll be dancing in the street, I have a smile on my face. It’s going to be so much fun! The weather is going to be beautiful. I’ll get lots of steps in, spin around a little bit, see some friends and just have a good time. Something to keep in mind if you’re still not convinced that dancing outside in front of people who may be strangers is that it’s easy to escape. When the song finishes, all you have to do is leave the dance floor and walk home. None will be the wiser.