What Dance Has Taught Me

What Dance Has Taught Me

“I dance, I sweat, I flirt, I leave”

I attended a performing arts school for middle and high school and majored in orchestra. Because of that, I was known as “The Cellist” in my community. While I did love orchestra, I got very sick of that label after graduation. So, as I went to college, I decided to re-brand myself. I could be anything I wanted! So, I decided that I would become “The Dancer”. At first, the brand didn’t stick. But now, after a year in college, I have finally become “The Dancer”.

Now let me clarify: I am a social dancer. I do not take formal lessons or do formal performances. Social dances are casual drop-ins. You come when you like, you dance when you like, and you dance your style. My preferred styles of dance are contra dancing and swing dancing, but I also have just learned the waltz and blues. There are “regulars” at every dance event, but there are always new people too. For those curious about dance, I would just like to share a few things I have learned about myself in the past two years of dancing.

It’s Okay to Say No. You have every right to say no in a situation. If you don’t feel comfortable with someone, it’s okay to not dance with them. If you don’t like their conversation, you don’t have to talk to them. If you don’t like how they dance near you, you can walk away. Some people are very persistent, but you can take a stand and say no (with no excuse).

Live in the Moment. I have a Type A personality. I am always on the go and planning my next move and wondering what will happen in the next moment. Living that way brings me anxiety and stress sometimes. But dance forces me to be in the moment. You have to pay attention to every step and every turn and how beautiful your partner’s eyes are and how many buttons are one their shirt and…all you’re doing is just being there. You don’t have anywhere else to be and you are having a good time. So stay in the moment for now and just let it be.

Things Take Time. I have lost the patience to learn new things. They say that happens when you get older. When I first began dancing, I was so incredibly frustrated that I wasn’t a good dancer right off the bat. But that’s not how things work. Skill takes time and practice. The first kind of dance I learned was contra and it took me a solid three months just to get the basic steps down. Now here I am two years later, mastering those steps and learning new styles of dance. It really was a struggle remembering patience. But taking the time to learn the steps and practice was all worth the effort in the end.

Body Confidence. Being a first-year college student, the freshman 15 has been creeping up on me. I try to go to the gym when I can and I dance every week. Yet, somehow, I am still gaining weight. But you know what? The numbers on the scale do not matter. Yeah, I am a little heavier than I want to be, but I am capable of so much more than I was in high school. My strengthened core brings me balance and I am now less clumsy. I have endurance and can dance for a lot longer than I could before. I have muscle memory that allows me to be graceful on the dance floor. These skills are worth way more than the numbers on the scale. I look and feel fabulous and nothing or no one is going to tell me otherwise.

Attire. You can wear whatever you want and get away with it.

Being a Flirt. One of my favorite dance slogans is, “I dance, I sweat, I flirt, I leave”. And that is exactly right. Social dancing allows you to interact with so many types of people in a unique setting. Dancing has a certain intimacy: you can get very up close and personal when you dance and you can be flirty if you want. But then you can leave. You don't have to carry on, you don't have to go home with anyone, and you don't have to give out your number (unless you want to). Now obviously there are some rules like don’t lead people on, don’t be vulgar, don’t be excessive or rude. And, as mentioned earlier, if you are uncomfortable, you can change partners or decide to leave. But it’s fun to be flirty with those who flirt back. It’s non-committal and silly.

Community. Oh my gosh, the community is awesome! While I have gone out of town for a few dances (shout out to Lake Murray!), I dance mostly in Charleston. It has been absolutely amazing getting to know the regulars here. Some people from contra dance also swing dance too, so it’s great getting to dance with them in new settings. You build strong relationships and trust with these people. And what a great community it is.

Cover Image Credit: Michele Turner

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If Taylor Swift Songs Were Types Of Alcohol

Because what's better than a drink and some T-Swift?

With Taylor Swift's quick return to the music scene... and in a big way, might I add, I decided to associate some of the best Taylor Swift songs with alcohol.

I mean, who wouldn't want to drink to Taylor Swift's catchy melodies and perfect choruses to get over an ex or tell someone exactly how you feel about them?

Taylor Swift has been around for a decade at this point, and let's face it, pretty much all of her songs could go along with at least one type of alcohol.

1. "Welcome To New York" - Moscow Mule

It only makes sense. Visit the Big Apple and you have to indulge in the state's signature cocktail. Moscow mules are a New York classic, and if it's your first night in the city and you haven't bought yourself one, are you even in New York?

2. "Blank Space" - Everclear

Think about it... A night of drinking Everclear will leave you with a giant blank space the next day. You might also look like Taylor did in the music video.

3. "Tim McGraw" - Beer

Tim McGraw is a throwback to Taylor's high school love. What better way to reminisce than with a couple friends and a keg of your favorite cheap beer?

4. "Style" - Cristal Champagne

What's more stylish than with a glass of the most expensive bubbly you can find? Just like Taylor Swift, Cristal will never go out of style.

5. "Shake It Off" - Martini

Get it? Cause you shake a martini? I might be the only one who thinks that's funny but you might end up dancing a little bit with a martini in hand when "Shake It Off" come on the radio.

6. "Red" - Merlot

Red has to go along with a red wine. What else could go along with yet *another* T-Swift breakup song?

7. "22" - Margaritas

Let's face it, when you're 22, you really only drink margaritas. They're fun- and all the hipsters are probably drinking them too.

8. "Teardrops On My Guitar" - Southern Comfort

When your heart is broken, who are you going to turn to besides the only alcohol that gives you comfort...Southern Comfort that is.

9. "I Knew You Were Trouble" - Fireball

I can't say I've ever met anyone who spent a night with Fireball and didn't regret it the next morning.

10. "Look What You Mad Me Do" - Tequila

T-Swift's latest single is an angry one. What better to make you angry than tequila? Taylor basically just called out everyone who had ever talked about her behind her back and she did it in true Taylor fashion-by writing a song. She was probably drunk on tequila when she wrote it too.

11. ...Ready For It? - Bottomless Mimosas

Because it's just that good.

Cover Image Credit: YouTube

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Board Games Are More Important Than You Think They Are

They've become a defining part of my family.


Remember when you were a kid and you'd have a family game night? Or your friends would come over and you'd open the game cabinet and play at least three different games together?

Maybe it's just me, but those are some of my best memories from my childhood. My family loves games, board games, and electronic games.

Of course, as I got older, gaming consoles like PlayStation and Wii became more and more popular. That meant that the game cabinet was opened less and less, collecting dust.

Thankfully, I live in New Jersey near the shore and Hurricane Sandy left my family with no power for five days. Sure, it was scary not having power and walking around my neighborhood seeing fallen trees or roof shingles, but we were inland enough to not have had any flood water damage.

No power also meant no PlayStation or Wii games. The gaming cabinet was opened again, this time with vigor. Now, four years later, and I still think about sitting in the dark with a flashlight playing Scrabble with my family.

That was also the week I learned how to play Yahtzee and dominated my dad in every game. My sister constantly was looking for someone to play her to Battleship. We exhausted Rummikub.

The game was already a family favorite, and that's including extended family. Family barbeques had been ending with late night games of Rummikub for at least a year by the time Sandy hit.

We were ready to strategize and crunch numbers, but after day three, we never wanted to a number ever again.

This semester, there's been a surge of board game love again in my family. My sister bought Jenga, which we are currently trying to exhaust ourselves with. My favorite board game also had a comeback: Life.

I loved this game so much that I had the SpongeBob version as a kid. I would play it with my best friend, just the two of us, playing game after game of Bikini Bottom themed Life. Now, I have a car full of "kids" that I've started to make pets in my head. I can handle having five pretend dogs, but not five pretend kids.

I don't know what it is about board games, but my family has always had an affinity for them. We've gone through our cycles of playing video games and card games, but we always come back to the classics. Maybe it's more a defining part of my family than I originally thought.

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