As I spun around the room at a recent wedding dance, I had a profound thought: Dancing is a perfect metaphor for life, and not just the part about going around and around and getting nowhere.
I’ve taken many dance classes with my husband, though you can’t tell by watching me dance. But I do know a thing or two about dancing. I also know a thing or two about going around and around and getting nowhere, but let’s not talk about that now. Consider the following:
In both life and dancing, it’s nice to have a partner. Of course, in dance classes, we often switch partners. That happens in life too, but that’s outside the scope of this column.
I will say, if you and your partner aren’t compatible on the dance floor, if you find yourself frequently arguing over whether it’s slide-step-step or a slide-step-slide, you should consider finding another common interest—or another partner.
Not everybody can lead on the big dance floor of life, and the same goes for the dance hall. There is only one leader on the dance floor, and for better or worse, society dictates that it be the man. Men shouldn’t let this fact go to their heads. Leaders without followers dance alone—both on and off the dance floor. I also think that in the interest of fairness, women should lead off the dance floor.
Trustworthiness, knowledge and wisdom are characteristics of truly great leaders, both on and off the dance floor. Quite often, women are dancing backwards, which is no simple thing for those of us who have control issues and can barely dance forward. We must be able to trust that our partners won’t dance us directly into another couple.
And our dance partners must be knowledgeable enough to know the steps—and wise enough to take our direction when they don’t.
Both dancing and life go better when you wear comfortable shoes. In life, pointy-toed, spiky-heeled shoes are only a problem for the wearer. On the dance floor, they can be downright dangerous to the wearer, the wearer’s companion, and everyone else on the dance floor. Wise women put the comfort and the safety of themselves and others before vanity. They refrain from wearing dangerous girl shoes to the dance, and it’s only fair that men do too.
Just like in life, it’s important to dance responsibly and watch out for the other guy—and gal. All dancing couples should move around the room in a big, counterclockwise donut. It’s like a race track only not as fast.
If you and your partner are doing a different dance than the majority, for example jitterbugging while everyone else is two-stepping, you’re a menace. You should dance in the “donut hole” or on the edge of the room. This prevents the inevitable collisions that occur when everyone dances in different directions like spilled marbles on the dance floor.
Even when everyone is behaving responsibly in the great dance of life, occasionally you get your toes stepped on. And so it is on the dance floor, especially if you’re dancing with me.
Yes, just as in life, there are risks involved. I’ve seen couples careen out of control during a brisk polka or lively cha-cha. I’ve seen jitterbuggers hurled like meteorites into the crowd. It’s glamorous to say you sprained your ankle skiing or roller blading—not so much to say you sprained it waltzing.
Finally, both on the dance floor and off, persistence and hard work eventually pay off. In dancing and in life, practice really does make perfect, though I can’t say it’s worked for me.
Dorothy Rosby is the author of the humor book, “I Didn’t Know You Could Make Birthday Cake from Scratch: Parenting Blunders from Cradle to Empty Nest.” Contact [email protected]