Leave the real one far behind

At some point during the dancing portion of the reception today, Heather was trying to get David M and me to dance; we both said that we only waltz. David explained some of why he doesn't dance, and I explained some of why I don't; among other things, I noted that people who are good at (and/or who teach) physical-movement stuff tend to be incapable of putting it into words, and I usually need words to make sense out of things, so learning physical-movement stuff is often hard for me.

So Heather started explaining to me, in words (as she demonstrated), some basics of dancing. It was remarkable and eye-opening; it's been rare that anyone's done that for me before. (Susan R taught me to waltz, and a couple of people have taught me some basic English dancing at various times, and various people have given me tips on playing DDR; and there've probably been a few other instances I'm not thinking of offhand.)

So I got up and stood next to her (we were off to the side of the room, not on the dance floor), and watched what she did, and tried to do what the Wii DDR tutorial says: “don't match the timing with your eyes, feel the rhythm with your soul!”

It was kind of fun. I can't see myself going out on a dance floor for real anytime soon, and I got all tangled up when we tried to go from half-speed to full speed, but it was much nicer than any of my previous public freeform-dancing experiences.

It was also possibly the most embarrassing thing I've done in public recently. I got through it by trying to keep my eyes entirely on Heather and trying to ignore the three to five friends who were watching. (They were mostly complimentary, though they also gently mocked my attempts at hand motions.)

It occurred to me that one of the things DDR doesn't teach (besides hand motions) is hip motion. I've gotten reasonably good at putting my feet down on the right squares on the right beats, which requires shifting weight at the right times, but even when my DDR-playing is flowing smoothly, I'm not thinking about my hips. I'll try and pay more attention to that next time I play.

(I know that DDR is not real dancing. But it's made me significantly more comfortable than I used to be with moving my body in time to music, which seems like a decent first step.)

Anyway. Fun and interesting, despite stretching my comfort-zone boundaries a little. Thank you, Heather, for making it easy and relatively comfortable, and especially for talking through it in actual words! And thanks to y'all others who were watching for being encouraging.

10 Responses to “Leave the real one far behind”

  1. Vardibidian

    I would just like to point out that even if you don’t dance, you are still a friend of mine (although, of course, you can dance if you want to).


  2. Haddayr

    David Moles LIES! He is an excellent, expert, brilliant slamdancer and pogo-er. For SHAME, Moles. For SHAME.

    I would love to teach you some dance moves, Jed — I am very good at explaining things in words and in similar-movement analogies. Seriously I am.

    Or, we could just waltz. I find waltzing utterly lovely. Maybe my favorite kind of dancing.

  3. irilyth

    > I know that DDR is not real dancing.

    It doesn’t have to be, but I remember the first time I saw DDR, in an arcade, when it first came out, like ten years ago, seeing a guy playing it who was dancing while playing, which was really impressive. I haven’t watched a lot of friends playing at home, but the few I’ve seen, none of them played like that.

  4. Jed

    V: Hee! This made me laugh.

    Haddayr: Darn that sneaky Moles guy! Next time, we will insist that he slamdance and/or pogo.

    I’m tentatively interested in learning more about dance moves, so if you’re up for it next time I see you, and if I’m feeling brave, then sure, let’s try it.

    I would love to waltz with you, with one caveat: I really like waltzing, but I almost never get a chance to do it, so I’m way out of practice. But if I knew I were going to sometime soon, I might practice (to the extent possible) on my own at home. …I guess the other caveat is that even at my best, I was never great at it. But I wasn’t awful, and I do like it.

    David suggested, at least half-jokingly, that he and I could waltz at the reception; I was ruefully amused at the flash of internalized homophobia I had in response. (“OH NOES PEOPLE MIGHT THINK I’M GAY!” Feh. I keep trying to remind myself that I might get more dates if more people thought I was gay.) As it turned out, no waltzes were played, so the issue didn’t come up again. If it had, I would’ve had to ask if he could follow, ’cause I only know how to lead; I ought to learn to follow.

    Josh: I’ve seen a couple of really amazing DDR videos online, with players who don’t appear to be paying any attention to the screen, just doing astonishing dance moves across the mat while racking up perfect scores. But I’ve never seen anyone really good play in person. Anyway, sadly, the way I play DDR is definitely not real dancing—though as I get better at it, it becomes a little more dancelike, I think.

  5. Sumana Harihareswara

    That sounds like a great dancing lesson, and I’m glad you got to enjoy it and learn from it.

  6. Anne Gray

    Just remember, as you try to move your hips, that a lot of the trick of that is in the knees. In fact if you study hula or belly dancing you find that the majority of hip motion is knee-related. Loosen your knees and let yourself sink a little into a lightly bent leg, and easier hip motion will follow.

    One good warm up, especially if you have a full length mirror to watch yourself in, is to stand facing the mirror and then pretend to be bouncing a basketball with one hand. Switch hands from time to time and each time try to involve more of your body in the bounce – just before you push your hand at the ground, shift your weight to that side and sink into your knees. And relax and have fun.

    In our dancing for geeks class, Scalzi always tells the guys not to worry about looking silly: you get so many points just for being out there that silly doesn’t matter. Have fun!

  7. Anne Gray

    Ps waltzing becomes soaring when you step into a bent knee and really travel on the 1 beat and then straighten up on your toes for a hovering instant as you spin for 2 and 3 and find a new direction in which to swoop down for the next 1. 🙂

  8. David Moles

    Haddayr, I think Jed missed the part of the conversation where I explained to Heather that I have to be more drunk and surrounded by more of my peeps. Also, they weren’t playing “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”

    Jed, after ten years I’m not sure I even remember how to lead any more, but next year at WisCon we’ll figure it out.

  9. David Moles

    P.S. I thought you looked very suave!

  10. Haddayr

    Okay, Moles. I buy it.

    Jed: following is MUCH harder than leading, FYI.


Join the Conversation