I’m forty-one years old and two weeks ago was the first time in my life that I felt like I danced properly with a man. Wait, let me back up and tell you where I’m coming from.
I believe I’ve mentioned before that I dislike parties. I mean like, I really don’t like them. They’re loud and don’t present any opportunity for actual interaction with people since you can’t hear each other anyway. Besides that, I always feel awkward on the dance floor. I didn’t really know that last part until about two weeks ago. Jamaica has a very strong party culture and dancing is a big part of that. You need to know how to dance. I have rhythm but I never know the latest dances so I always feel somewhat awkward and left out, but not enough to actually do anything about it, like go learn the dances. Added to all of that is the way that couples dance in Jamaica. Generally speaking, it’s pretty intimate and I’ve never felt comfortable dancing with a man who isn’t my man. And if there’s no grinding involved you awkwardly try not to look at each other until the dance is over, then you go your separate ways.
This is my experience of parties and dancing. My experience has been blown to smithereens by Yakutsk.
So there’s this Latin dancing school here. One of the local teachers at my school is a member of the dance school and has been taking Latin dancing classes for about three years. The school was putting on a Latin dancing party and an invitation was issued to any of us who wanted to go. At first I said no because honestly, Latin music is not on my list of favourite genres and I imagined that by the third song I’d be ready to bounce. Plus, dance parties aren’t my thing. But after talking to one of the other teachers at school, I changed my mind and decided to go – new experiences and all that. I mean, Yakutsk is literally the last place on Earth that I would expect to find Latin dancing even being a thing so I figured I might as well check it out. If the night turned out to be boring, at least I would have one more experience under my belt.
The party was scheduled for the first Sunday evening of October but there was a city-wide power cut for several hours so it was postponed to the following Friday night. It being Friday night, several people who originally said they would go ended up deciding not to. In fact, I almost didn’t go. I had been at school all day and after my last class was over, all I wanted to do was go home; I even said as much to another teacher. But I had said I would go and I don’t like to go back on my word. I had originally planned to go home and change before going to the party but I knew that if I stepped foot in my apartment I would likely not want to leave again for the night, so I decided to stay at school until it was time to go. I spent the intervening two hours getting some work done.
In the end, only about six of us from school ended up going to the party. It was held at an event hall. We arrived at around 7:30 pm and sat at a table chatting for a while until the formal part of the evening – a floor show – started. It lasted for about an hour and was actually really entertaining. There were performances by students and teachers of the dance school, as well as singing and some audience participation dance contests. After that was done, they opened the dance floor. And, except for two brief forays to get a drink, I spent the next two hours right there.
Seriously, I had expected to sit quietly for the evening and be an observer but when the music started and one of my colleagues said, “Come on, let’s dance,” I found myself readily agreeing and hitting the floor with her. We cha-cha’d and line danced our way through the night. Within an hour I was drenched in sweat and I stayed that way for the rest of the evening.
At one point, one of the male dance students who had performed earlier in the evening came up, took my hands and started leading me in a dance. He spun and twirled me while I followed his lead and laughed in delight when I mis-stepped a few times. Guys, this was the first time in my life that I danced with a man without being rubbed up against or without it feeling awkward and weird. And it was definitely the first time I was shuttled around like that on the dance floor. The only thing left for him to do was dip me, and I suspect he didn’t do it because he’s not at that level proficiency level yet.
After that, one of the female instructors from the school came up and lead me in a dance, also spinning and twirling me around; all of the instructors were dancing with random guests and seeing as how there was only a handful of men in attendance, a woman dancing with a woman was to be expected. In fact, one of my female colleagues and I who stayed on the floor all night danced together a couple of times. This was also literally the first time I danced with another woman.
Then Stanislav grabbed my hands and took me for a spin around the floor too. Stanislav is a Russian guy, which is to say that he isn’t Sakha, which is more of an Asian look; he looks Caucasian. His rhythm wasn’t one hundred percent but we had a fun time. Later in the evening, he came back around and had another dance with me.
The night ended early, based on my party experience; they shut the music off at 11 pm. Considering that they had rented the hall, I suppose this wasn’t surprising but I could have continued dancing for another couple of hours.
As we waited at coat check to get our stuff, Stanislav told my colleague that he was happy to have danced with me because I bend in all the right places. Apparently, I’m flexible and bendy enough to pass muster with Stanislav on the dance floor. Yay!
By the time I was dropped off at home, it was going on midnight but I was still so hopped up on the adrenaline of a good night spent on the dance floor that it took me two hours to fall asleep. Yeah, Yakutsk changed my mind about dance parties. I’m definitely going to the next one.