Our Line Dancing Class (Halloween, 2009)
Except when I’ve been out of town, I’ve gone to my line dancing class every Tuesday night for the last two years. I look forward to it all week long. In fact, I wish they’d offer it three or four times a week. Recently the instructor, Jack, sent around an e-mail announcing that he was starting a new line dancing class on Monday nights. That sounded great, and I was all ready to sign up. However, when I looked more carefully at the message he’d sent to 138 prospective enrollees, mine was the only male name I could find on the address list. Hmm. I decided instead I should expand my line dancing practice by watching videos on YouTube.
Katja, our friend Donna, and I joined the line dancing class together at the fitness center two years ago. There were three or four men in the class and about fifteen women. Katja injured her knee after six months, and she dropped out. Donna, who’s a very skilled dancer, eventually lost interest, and she discontinued too. By that time there were just two men left, me and another guy also named David. I decided to stick with it. We two Davids couldn’t have been more opposite. The other David was very gregarious, pal’d around with all the women before and after class, joked with the instructor, and delighted in showing off his ability to shake his booty. I, by comparison, was the prototypic wallflower, rarely talking to anybody, concentrating solely on learning new dance steps. The other David told me one evening he was glad I was there so there would be at least two males, and I agreed. Then about three months ago talkative David stopped showing up. After he missed several sessions, I asked Gillian, one of the assistant instructors, where he was, and she said he’d moved to Colorado. That was a shock. By then there were about two dozen women in the class and me.
It’s odd to be the sole man in an otherwise all-woman class. I don’t think in my entire life I’ve been a member of a big group where I was the only male. There’s an enjoyable atmosphere in the class, but I also feel I stand out like a sore thumb. I don’t think of line dancing as a gendered activity, though maybe it is. It’s easy to think of a group of men playing pickup basketball or Texas poker, but it’s harder to imagine an all-male group of line dancers. Line dancing might be a little too collectivistic and high in uniformity to be an all-male enterprise. Maybe it’s something men do when they’re recruited by their female partners.
About a month ago Jack announced a Saturday night line dancing party that he was organizing as a charity event at a veterans hall in Northern Kentucky. A couple of my female classmates asked me if I were going, and I said I didn’t think so. It’s hard enough to go to class on Tuesdays with a batch of mostly strangers, much less going out on my own to a big event on Saturday night. As the day got closer, though, I started reconsidering. Jack said that some of the Cincinnati Bengals cheerleaders might be there, and there might even be a local TV crew. Gillian, one of the assistant instructors, announced in class that I ought to go, and a number of my classmates voiced their agreement. I think Gillian thought it would be good to have at least one man there for the TV cameras. I struggled back and forth with the idea all week long. On the one hand, the social mingling part of it made me anxious. On the other hand, I realized that I’ve tended to react that way since I was six years old, so maybe I should try to be more socially courageous.
Saturday rolled around. Katja and I had an enjoyable start to the day when we attended a friend’s graduation ceremony at Northern Kentucky and then all had lunch together at the Netherland Hilton. That put me in a sufficiently good mood that I told Katja that I thought I might go to the line dancing party. She thought that was an excellent idea. I got there a little after the 7:00 start time. A couple of my classmates were dancing in the front row, and they blurted out my name in amazement as I walked in. I joined them in the Electric Slide, and, when the number was over, they said they were really surprised to see me. Actually I was pretty surprised too, but I didn’t let on. There was a good-sized crowd – people from Jack’s four different classes, as well as regulars from the Rodeo’s country line dancing nightclub that had recently closed down in suburban Cincinnati. I wasn’t the sole male -- there were probably a dozen or more men on the dance floor at various times. The Rodeo dancers stood out as especially good and made me want to get better. The Bengals Cheerleaders didn’t show up, nor did the TV crew, but that didn’t matter. There were a lot of younger people, some number in my oldish age group, and a ten-year-old girl who was pretty good. My female classmates invited me over to their table and went out of their way to make me feel at home. The dancing went on for three hours, and, all in all, it was a big success. In total, 120 people came, and they made four thousand dollars for the charity. Having gotten my feet wet, I guess I’ll definitely go again next time. Clearly line dancing fever is in my blood.
-Vicki L (12-19): I’m so proud of you DVD - I have to encourage my willingness to go solo adventuring! Lv, v
-Gayle C-L (12-19): David, You're so crazy. :).
-Jennifer M (12-19: YAY!!!!! I can't wait to hear more about this.