Let me tell you a secret: I used to have no rhythm.
Actually, that’s not really a secret, and it’s still mostly true. I used to think I would never be able to dance, no matter how much practice I had or how precisely I counted the beats of the song in my head. One of my ex-boyfriends was actually rude enough to refuse to dance with me at any social function because I was “so awful,” as he affectionately termed it.
Then I discovered swing.
Swing dancing defied all of my stereotypes about dance. I thought you had to be lithe and limber to dance well, that you had to be able to balance sixteenth-notes in your head while tapping out the rhythm of the drums, and that more experienced dancers would never, ever deign to be partners with beginners.
Oh, how wrong I was.
Swing was all of my dreams come true. It was a dance where great, talented people with years of experience would partner in a heartbeat with first-time dancers. It was a fantastic workout, with stretching and cardio and aerobic exercise all jammed into one. It was both endlessly challenging and deceptively simple—you can learn the basic steps of East Coast Swing in less than ten minutes, but spend decades perfecting the forms. And, most of all, it was FUN.
I feel like I’m releasing everything when I’m swing dancing. It’s impossible to think about whatever is worrying or stressing me, because there’s only room for concentrating on the dance steps. My partner doesn’t care if I’m sweaty and damp, and I don’t care if he is. I get to work at overcoming my shyness by dancing with a bevy of different people every night I go to a swing class, and I find that I make more and more friends every time I go (swingers are some of the friendliest people around).
Yes, I’m still uncoordinated and klutzy and arrhythmic, but it doesn’t matter when I’m swing dancing. I get the beat, even though it sometimes takes a little work. If you haven’t tried it, I can almost guarantee you’ll love it. Even if you feel discouraged the first time you dance, don’t give up—you get better and it gets more fun every time.
So what are you waiting for? Google your city’s local swing scene and go cut a rug with all the hip hepcats who are just waiting to meet you.