It’s midnight and I’m on my way home like a modern-day Cinderella, only my pumpkin takes the form of a red double-decker, and the ball, a mid-week dance social.
A man to my right slowly nods off with his mouth open while the lady behind him delves deep into the land of her smartphone. I always wonder what keeps my fellow night-riders out at this hour. Do I dare toÂ be â€śthat crazy bus girlâ€ť who starts conversation and breaks the public transport code of silence?
Luckily, this time, I don’t have to. A 20-something year old appears in the seat next to mine. He smiles as I move my bag and smile back; a secret sequence that manages to exempt us from the rule.
“Late night at work?”
“Ah, no! I’ve just come from dancing. As in, social dancing. Sort of like a Salsa night. You?”
I say this despite coming from a Zouk event, knowing from experience that ‘Salsa’ is like the Beyonce of couple dance; familiar, and the quickest way to let a stranger understand I’m not referring to after-hours activities on tables.
He tells me he’s on holiday here from the US, recaps his city adventures, then goes back to the topic of “this social dancing thing”.
“That’s cool. I’ve always wanted to try something like that. My friends always invite me, but I’ve got two left feet!”
Ah, Two Left Feet (TLF) syndrome. One of those universal things I occasionally encounter but never quite understand. Like bobby pins. Or cucumber sandwiches.
When a TLF-sufferer tells me they won’t go to a class to learn how to dance because they don’t know how to dance, my first instinct is to stomp on their right foot and yell:
“That doesn’t make sense and I’m guessing you can’t feel THIS then!!!”
My actual (less aggressive) impulse is to give them a 3-minute pitch on why they should definitely try social dancing, which goes roughly like the following.
5 reasons you should try social dancing (tips for friends and random people on buses):
It keeps you fit, relaxed and exercises your body, mind and creativity.
It’s social. You meet people, lots of them, all different kinds and from all ends of the world. (If you’re a straight single man, I like to throw in the words â€śpretty girlsâ€ť.)
It gives you somewhere to go out at night that doesn’t necessarily require drinking, either with friends or on your own (due to #2).
There’s something to do all through the week, not just weekends. You can actually look forward to Mondays.
It’s, basically, a whole lot of fun. The most fun you can have with another person with clothes on.
Our conversation is hijacked by my spiel until I reach that line between good advice and obsessive babbling. I find most dancers encounter this. It’s strange to feel you have to monitor talking about something positive and enjoyable. However, I always put myself in the shoes of someone listening to their friend go on about an amazing ice cream they like.
“So it’s amazing. You should try it. There’s nothing bad I can say about it. I eat it all the time. It’s so smooth and like caramel mixed with heaven sprinkled with angels. It changed my life. You really should try it…”
Even between themselves, dancers don’t usually discuss their love for dancing. It’s as if once you experience it there’s no need for words, just a quiet mutual understanding of each other.
*inner voice* “Yeah, I know you know this ice cream is amazing.”
My bus stop approaches sooner than expected. I bid a hurried farewell to my temporary pumpkin friend and pace down the street wrapped in a warm, post-social cloud. My tired but happy feet tread quietly with both shoes intact as two extra pairs (my dance flats and heels) bounce away inside my bag.
Because Cinderellas come much better prepared nowadays.
This was the first in our new regular series ‘Word on the Dancefloor’, articles for dance lovers. Why do you social dance? If you have any more reasons to add to this list, let us know in the comments section!