Opinion: For the love of dancing — get out of your comfort zone

by Robert Lyons, reporter

I have always enjoyed dancing, but that doesn’t mean I was any good at it prior to coming to Simpson College. In fact, I had a major problem with being on the dance floor.

Did I have a problem with keeping the beat? No.

Was I suffering from the apparently widespread problem of having two left feet? Not really.

But did I have a problem with knowing what to do and being comfortable with my movements on the dance floor? Heck yes.

From middle school on through high school, my approach was to take the dance floor with reckless abandon. Feet flew, arms flailed and my head would bob about (to the beat of course). As to my hips and torso, I had no idea what to do with them.

While my classmates engaged in the “grind,” I was more interesting in experiencing the music and showing off my “sick moves” (at the time I thought they were). Yet as I got older, I started becoming more concerned with what my classmates thought of my dancing (or inability to dance).

By the time I came to Simpson, my move set had declined and I was reduced to the basic “guy dance,” shifting my weight from foot-to-foot with some simple shoulder movement to mix things up a bit. I was not having much fun and I wasn’t feeling very comfortable on the dance floor anymore.

However, early in my first semester at Simpson, I made the fortunate decision to attend the Latinos Unidos Salsa Dance Night. That night, my love of dance was rekindled.

This was what I had been looking for, structured dance with a social purpose. Yet I didn’t find again that for the rest of my first year at Simpson and I didn’t know if I ever would.

Then, just last semester, my internal plea was answered. When I attended OrgFest, I discovered three friends of mine, Annie Collins, Tori Halloran and Maureen Snook, had organized the Simpson College Dance Club.

You can bet I was at that first meeting… and I’ve been at every meeting since (except for yoga night… but I’m just not into that yet). Every Monday night since September, I’ve had the chance to learn a different style of dance from ho-down, to swing and even ballet! We’ve also learned dance routines to such hits as “All the Single Ladies” and “All that Jazz.” They keep us on our toes, literally, because that’s how you’re supposed to dance.

All of this time with the Dance Club culminated with my performance at the ENACTUS-sponsored Mr. Simpson male beauty pageant. For the second round talent portion I had decided to perform a routine to the song “Tonight is the Night” and I made sure to thank my three mentors before performing. By all accounts, I think I did them proud and it was enough to earn me a spot in the final round. I like to think that’s pretty good for someone who never had a formal dance lesson in their entire life.

And that’s precisely the reason I wanted to tell my narrative about my experiences with dance. I want to encourage everyone to just dance and let loose. Life is so much more fun on the dance floor than on the fringes by the wall. It’s time to get outside of the comfort zone and learn how to dance or practice a routine for a song.

Dance, at its most basic level, is a social activity and it’s a lot more fun for a person when they have some idea of what they’re doing. So work up that courage and step out on the dance floor; you won’t regret it.