Wednesday, August 3, 2011

More Clapping, Less Dancing

Finally, no rain, no wind, no conflicts on a Wednesday night as S and I pulled into the parking lot at Jones Beach. We headed towards the bandshell where we heard the music. People were dancing. We found a place on the bleachers to put our stuff and we sat and watched people dancing. We didn't know the song. Then a song came on we knew and we danced it. Then another song came on we didn't know and we stopped. No one was instructing. This was odd.

Then another song came on and a woman came up on stage and started dancing. She wasn't instructing, but she was dancing and showing what to do. This was still odd. It was also a letdown because the dances they were doing were dances I'd love to do--one to Carrie Underwood's Casanova Cowboy and one to Pink's Raise Your Glass.

Then she put on a mic and told everyone to come onto the floor to learn some beginner dances. We hopped onto the floor. She said she was going to give everyone some background on line dancing. Ooh, a history lesson. She went on to explain how anyone could learn to dance and she'd be teaching beginner dancing and a lot of the people who had been dancing had been dancing for years and they go to classes, so all we have to do is email her and we can find out about local classes.

Someone explain how that is a history of line dancing. I was expecting, Long ago, in Ancient Persia, people danced in a line. Nope, that's not what we got.

She was very encouraging in the area of "make some noise" and "are you out there?" She asked questions and then asked them again to make people clap loudly. She began teaching "the Lazy Song" and after teaching each step a few times, she would ask how everyone was doing and people would clap. What was with the clapping? I'm not really a fan of clapping unless we're in the middle of doing the dance and it requires it or if I saw a really good performance at a concert or in the theatre. Clapping as a response for yes is not in my vocabulary.

We learned the dance pretty quickly until a turn came. Then came words of encouragement: Wow, you are the worst turners. That was from the instructor. Nice. She was laughing, though, so I guess she likes sarcasm. Sarcasm has its place in life; when you're a new instructor and people don't know you yet, I would hold off on the sarcasm, especially when in the next breath you're telling the people on the boardwalk to come on down and learn to dance.

After doing The Lazy Song to music twice, and screwing up only a few times, we moved on to Country As Can Be. S was like, you love this song! I was like, Why can't I remember it. It started with tapping your heel on both feet. Then it clicked. I was like, Oh I do love this song, but Jean never taught us the foot tap! Jean taught us to step forward and stand there without moving for four counts. It was awkward. S had always said, I bet there's a move there that she's not doing. The move is the heel tap, which actually makes the dance a lot more fun. The instructor kept asking if everyone was with her, people yelled yes and clapped, and she was like, I can actually hear you! Cool it with the sarcasm, lady.

Once the music was on, I was moving and shaking. I did a rolling vine at one point. I spontaneously clapped. S looked at me when I did with a face of, Really, you're clapping? Yes, yes I was. I actually have not witnessed so much clapping since watching "Show Me The Money," a failed game show hosted by William Shatner. There's a line in the song about doing something with green beans; it's my favorite part even though I can't remember it. When that line hit, I was on a dancing high.

That high didn't last very long because the instruction stopped soon after that, and the instructor put on songs, announced their titles, and told everyone to dance. We didn't know most of the songs, and a lot of them were too fast to pick up by watching. We went to sit on the bleachers but by this time, a crowd of five young adults had decided to sit directly over our stuff. Really, the rest of the bleachers were empty, and there they were in a semi-circle around our water. We grabbed our stuff and moved to the back bleachers.

In front of us was a woman with her kids and a friend I suppose. The woman was dancing furiously. Her daughter was swinging herself around to the music. The woman was calling out, grapevine! step step! grapevine! step step! with her brow furrowed to the point of barely having a forehead. Jeez, lady, it's dancing. It's supposed to be fun. The daughter ran away. I would have too. The woman started instead dancing with banana clip lady, one of the professional dancers who usually has her (I assume) husband there with her. He wasn't there so the two women danced as if it were their job, a job that was more like slave labor, not smiling. Banana clip lady, however, was more elegant than screamy mommy.

Cooler Than Me came on. S and I jumped up. We were happy we knew something. I was like, I don't think I remember it, but as soon as I started moving, I was like, Ohhh, this is easy. S was like, I thought you forgot it. Then two women decided to dance right behind us. That was fine, but they were doing totally different choreography, some of which completely interfered in our dance space. Apparently, when you go to Jones Beach, the goal is to ignore the empty space and crowd around people you don't know, or, rather, crowd around the two of us. The instructor promised to teach Cooler Than Me next week. No! No! No! Teach something I don't know, sarcastic clapping instructor lady!

Then it was over. What the? In the past years, we went later because it didn't start on time. Then we danced and danced and danced, learning a whole bunch of dances, beginner and beginner-intermediate. Then at the end of the night, more songs came on, well into the 10 o'clock hour. Maybe we'd missed a first instructional period since we got there a half hour later than the start time. But the ending at exactly 9:30 is a big change. Next week, we'll arrive on time, ready to learn songs we already know, and ready to clap.

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