New York Bureau (Hannah): Hell is Contra Dancing
Hmm, I know I might get in trouble for this here, but there is really hardly anything that makes me more uncomfortable than contra dancing. I am visiting Zed this weekend at his college and some of the kids had a big contra dance party last night.
First, the things I DO like about contra dancing:
1) The music
2) The way it looks when you are standing peacefully on the sidelines observing.
3) Doing it with a bunch of college kids who have mastered the "swing your partner with great energy" piece of each dance and who do it with gusto. And some of them even asked me to dance! Guess I don't look too old yet.
The things I don't like about contra dancing:
1) I have a scar on my chin about an inch long. I got it from contra dancing. I was on a class trip in high school in the rural North Carolina mountains, near Brevard and Transylvania counties. I was spinning around in my group of four and me and the other girl got spun so hard we were lifted off the ground. Her hands slipped out of mine and the next thing I knew I was laid out flat on my stomach, chin split open, and a couple of loose teeth (they fixed themselves up again though). I had to go to the Brevard County Hospital and the doctor glued my chin back together.
2) The way there's no way you can make a mistake and go unnoticed. It's all done in groups of fours, and you and your partner move up and down a long line of dancers. If you screw up, you can set off a chain reaction of chaos that will disrupt the dancing experience for EVERYONE within 30 feet of you. TO make things worse, you can't just give up and go sit down because the group needs you to fill your place or the dance won't work. Oy!
3) The way the rigorous standards of courtliness in the dance prevent anyone from acknowledging your abject apologies for screwing up. In contra dancing, you must stare tenderly and chivalrously into the eyes of everyone you're dancing with (in my case, every "man" in the whole line of dancers). And the more experienced the contra dancers are, the more they're determined to maintain their courtly, tender stare at all costs. Even when they really and truly want to kill you. I am not a shy person, but this freaks me out every time.
4) The fact that in some of the dances, you are always spinning in the same direction in either bigger or smaller circles for the entire duration of the dance. It's the next morning, and I still feel dizzy thinking about it!
I love the kids at Zed's school. They were so much fun last night that I even had fun contra dancing. But in general, this is not my favorite hobby.