I harbor not-so-secret fantasies about being a dancer. One of the reasons I enjoy trips home to Pennsylvania is that they generally entail a post-dinner family dance party. I suppose that’s a little strange, putting on some Kanye and busting a move with your parents and siblings, but I guess the dance dream is genetic. I’d be okay if a spontaneous dance party broke out on a daily basis.
A childhood spent watching movies like Footloose, Girls Just Want to Have Fun, and Flashdance apparently left a big impression. A faint scar remains on my forehead from an ill-advised, and clearly unsuccessful, attempt with my sister to recreate the Dirty Dancing lift using our slick and sharply-cornered coffee table as a stage. I still enjoy a good dance movie—to the point that I’ve paid money to see movies like Step Up and Take the Lead, a movie which I should note stars Antonio Banderas and the runner-up in America’s Next Top Model “Cycle Three,” in the theaters.
The past week has definitely had me wanting to move my feet. Last Thursday, I went to one of Jay-Z’s inaugural Barclays Center shows, which was an awesome, not-so-spontaneous dance party. Although I should clarify that it was not the show with the surprise Beyonce performance, and I’m still upset about it. I’m denying the “e” accent in protest.
The Jay-Z concert was followed by a trip to the ballet a few days later to watch a three-part performance of “Two Hearts,” “Year of the Rabbit,” and “Les Carillons.” I don’t go to the ballet enough, but whenever I do I always find myself amazed all over again at how dancers move their bodies to tell a story.
In addition to these dance indulgent shows, I feel like I’ve been noticing a lot more elderly people around me. That sounds really creepy and strange, but it’s true. The number of elderly people I see in my neighborhood and on my commute appears to have doubled. Maybe it’s that my birthday is a week away, and I’m experiencing subconscious stirrings about getting older. Whatever the reason, I’m acutely aware of old age lately. Seeing an elderly man hunched over at the waist, walking with his face parallel to the ground or a white-haired woman balancing herself on a cane, makes me realize that I should appreciate the mere ability to move more. And I should take advantage of it.
So I signed up for a hip-hop dance class. I’ve taken various dance classes before, but never in New York. I found it intimidating. All of the reviews for the studios I read on Yelp mentioned the frequency with which experienced dancers tend to drop in beginners classes for practice. People come to New York to make it as dancers. That means person next to you in class could have just returned from touring with Beyonce (still neglecting the accent).
This is essentially what happened to me when I attended a so-called “Beginners Hip-Hop” class at Dance New Amsterdam on Wednesday night. I showed up to studio 4 while the preceding modern dance class was still in session. I watched as they all showed their expert technical skill with each repetition of the routine. When it ended, I expected the majority to leave. Instead, almost every person switched into sneakers to join the hip-hop class. So much for beginners.
I quickly decided on a strategy to position myself in the back next to a girl wearing glasses and umbro shorts. I figured we’d either become pals, and I’d at least look somewhat more prepared by comparison. Luckily, it was the former. Despite a frequent exchange “Jesus, these people are amazing” glances, I’d say we largely held our own as we learned each intricate step of a routine to Flo Rida’s “I Cry.” The instructor even told me on the way out, “Nice job keeping up.” It might have been one of the better compliments I’ve ever received. I’d prefer to be told I’ve got decent moves over pretty much anything, so if you see me grinning for the next month or so you’ll know why.
Now I’m off to play “I Cry” on the jukebox of every bar I visit…