I did a scary thing yesterday.
To explain, I need to backtrack a little. See, I’m part of a social/folk dance community, based around something called contra dance. The short version is “square dance meets swing dance”–there’s a “caller” who teaches the dance and then talks you through the moves, to live music. I’ve written about this several times before, but the easiest way to explain it is through video. An explanation in words is here, more explanation (including why I love it) is here, and a description that’s more about how it feels is here.
Anyway, I’ve been doing contra dance for six and a half years. It’s become one of my passions, I’ve made a ton of friends, and I’ve gone on multiple road trips for full weekends of dance.
It’s also taught me to do several scary things and push my comfort zone in several directions. After first learning to dance in the lady’s role, I then added the gentleman’s role, and now I do both all the time (sometimes both in the same dance, if my partner is amenable to switching back and forth). I’ve gotten better at small talk, which is helpful at my day job. I went to a conference for dance organizers and challenged my feelings of imposter-ness (imposter syndrome), and now I’m one of the organizers for my dance community, doing the newsletters and half the social media stuff.
And yesterday I called my first dance.
Okay, second dance. I did a callers’ workshop last spring, which was awesome, but I tried calling one dance during the workshop, and it confirmed my suspicion that calling was Really Scary and probably not for me (an introvert who hates public speaking).
Then I, uh, published a book and did two book launches and they were Really Scary, but I didn’t die and they were also kind of fun.
So I started thinking about this calling thing again. I started practicing a little bit–I had recordings of contra music (of course), and the “recipes” for the dances are available online, so it’s possible to practice at home. Someone in my dance community started organizing sessions where new callers could come and call for a small group of people. I went to one and didn’t call, and missed the next one, and the third was coming up fast.
This past Saturday night we had a dance evening. The next caller session was to be Sunday. The organizer of the sessions, someone who’s become a friend, said, “So are you calling tomorrow? There’s this really easy dance you could do…”
I looked at it. It didn’t look too scary. I went home and practiced overnight. On Sunday I walked into the session and my friend said “Hey, we need an easy dance right now, do you want to go next?”
So I did.
I taught the dance, going through the whole thing twice, and then the music started and away we went. My friend stood next to me, couched me through it, and rescued me when I got off track. Some of the dancers got lost, possibly because I wasn’t clear enough. But everyone seemed to have a good time. They even clapped when I was done.
And…turns out it was significantly less scary than I thought.
I might even do it again next month.
Or maybe I’ll look for something else that scares me, and tackle that…
What have you done that scared you? I’d love to hear your stories!