My Life in Sweats: A Late Start.

The best time to plant a tree was ten years ago. The next best time to plant a tree is today.

That’s what I keep telling myself when I have doubts about my new hobby. You see, I’ve started hip hop dancing and I’m jumping in with evangelical fervor. I’ve stopped counting how many complete strangers I’ve run off when I approach them with the crazy eyes and accost their general area with, “HEY! HAVE YOU HEARD ABOUT HIP HOP DANCING AND ALL OF THE DANCES THAT FALL UNDER THAT UMBRELLA? WAIT! WHERE ARE YOU GOING? I WANTED TO SHOW YOU SOME VIDEOS!” It’s so sad that they won’t let me tell them about hip hop dancing.

But you’re still here! Let me tell YOU about hip hop dancing!

Photo Credit: Nicola Dracoulis

I’ve wanted to do this for a long time. When I first got to Dallas I searched the internet for local offerings and I found a place called Powerhouse of Dance. They offered adult hip hop and I knew I would love it so I bought the max number of “class cards.” I think I spent $300.00 or so on a stack of 20? 25? Don’t remember. I was so excited to hand my class card over to the instructor of my first hip hop class ever. I was in a class with a bunch of young adults who had clearly taken dance classes all through grade school. They were not only completely comfortable with the movements but more importantly with the memorization of the order of movements.

“Wait, wait, wait,” I protested, “When are we going to learn moves like the running man and the cabbage patch?” The instructor doubled over laughing but I was serious. I wanted to learn techniques, not an unfamiliar chain of moves with no repetition. My first hip hop class became pure struggle and frustration. I could remember the first count of eight just fine and then he’d add the next set and the next and my memory would break down. The others could remember everything so when the instructor would stop the music, set up to play it again, look over the class and say “Okay, no boo-boos this time,” he was really only talking to me. Guess how much money I just wasted? I never went back and those damn class cards are still sitting in a drawer ten years later.

My desire to learn hip hop got put on the back burners while I pursued belly dancing. I’ve found that many of the moves I’ve learned in belly dancing are shared with the hip hop genre so at least I get to begin again with a decent knowledge of movement. I also have rhythm, thank goodness. Occasionally I’d find a cool video of some insane dancer with inhuman moves and that would bring on a spate of youtube binging. (David Elsewhere comes to mind.) I never stopped wanting to learn these crazy moves. Occasionally I’d navigate to some tutorials and try them at home but without an instructor to guide me I’d eventually give up.

Skipping through LOTS of details to get to the meat of the story, I finally found a couple of places where I can learn this art. Doing an internet search for street dancing in the DFW area I found an Urban Movement Festival in downtown Plano in November. I plugged it into my calendar and went. After I watched everyone warm up for the dance battles and got myself worked up to a froth I grabbed the arm of the closest guy and asked, “HEY RANDOM GUY! I WANT TO DO THIS! WHERE DO I START?” He ran me over to a couple of instructors and I continued to pepper these poor guys with rabid questions about when and where I could take their classes.

Both of the dance studios are close to one another in Plano and pretty close to where I belly dance too. The first place is called Fenton’s Dance Factory and the second is called DFC Headquarters. I’m going to both places to dance. At this moment I am dancing 5 days a week, packing 3 hour-long classes into Thursday. Yes… I have a problem. I’m going to tell you all about it in this blog series. I’ve titled it “My Life in Sweats” because I’ve acquired a new wardrobe to help feel comfortable in these classes around all of these new people. One morning I looked down as myself and realized that I’m wearing sweats almost every day. I have to stop typing now. There so much more to come though. Stay tuned!

Yours in funky movement,

~S

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