The Art of Defensive Dancing
I've become at least moderately proficient in quite a few dances in my lifetime. Mainly, I'm a swing dancer, but I also dabble in salsa and a variety of ballroom dances. I even get a kick out of the polka now and then. But as classy as I think that repertoire sounds now, that's not where I learned to dance in my formative years. By the time I reached my latter high school years, I was fully devoted to the appeal of club dancing, and the idea of "keeping it classy"didn't stand a chance. As we rode the rocky waves of hormones, we awkardly gyrated to "musicians"who promoted it, telling us to "take off all our clothes"and do all number of dirty things "from the window, to the wall." Though I was ANYTHING but confident enough to do much but dance in the middle of a huddle of other friends, I got a chance to cut more of a slutty rug on my personal Senior trip, along with my best friend, Erica. This is also where I first experienced the kind of dance that requires self-defense. My dad's in the military, and that summer he was stationed in Ramstein, Germany, providing me with the rare opportunity for a small-town Kansan to travel Europe. Though I'd only had one 2-week romantic relationship in my life, I was pumped up to embark on my European adventure, which would be full of naughty dancing and epic montages and no time for eating or sleeping or real-people stuff. The reality was much more rural and slow, but I got to go clubbing twice in a club in the nearest big town, and I feel that those 2 outings epitomized the pitfalls of club dancing for me, or rather, the type of people that dig the pitfalls for you. They are as follows:1. The Aggressive Lord of the Dance Toweringly confident in his overwhelming allure, this skinny scrap is dancing with YOU, RIGHT NOW, and will not take no for an answer. Maybe he got the idea from television, where the determined underdog woos and wins the lady through sheer determination. Maybe he really does believe all the nice things his mother told him. Maybe he's drunk. Either way, your polite acquiescence will only serve to fuel his self-delusion. I KNOW THIS BECAUSE: The first night we went to that German club, I was ridiculously excited for my European adventure to FINALLY begin. Watching movies at home with the family was fine, but damn it, I had just graduated high school, and things needed to start getting real. I wore a beautiful, long gypsy skirt that night, with a red top I thought scandalously low-cut. It would have been quite beautiful for a wedding reception, but surrounded by skirts short enough to show thong, seemed pathetically prudish. Needless to say, after an hour of not even getting glances my way, I was thrilled to have a guy come over and start dancing with me, even if he was almost effeminate and I topped him by about 2 inches. My joy lasted all of 5 seconds. This man wanted to know me in a Biblical sense, right THEN and THERE. Not at all ready for that sort of commitment to a man I could crush, I gently backed away when he got in my personal bubble. That was fine with him, as it allowed him to show off the spastic jerks that he thought was quality dancing, but then he wanted more bodily contact, and closed in on me. As his cringe-worthy rhythm kept him bumping into me, I backed further away, keeping a wary eye on his arms, which kept waving intricately in front of my face. Somehow I managed to keep my smile on, because though I knew I was physically tough, I was not at all socially tough, and did not know how to make him GO AWAY. As I desperately searched for Erica, praying she would save me, I backed directly into a wall, knocking my breath out and my courage back in. I wouldn't stand for this! I was a grown woman, and this guy was pushing my boundaries past the limit. Boy, he was going to get an ear-full, and then the bouncers would have to scrape him off the floor as I stood haughtily by, resplendent with power. Nobody f*%cks with me. Putting my plan into action, I told him I needed to get a glass of water, and then used all of my ninja powers to avoid him for the rest of the evening, telling myself that while this was notably less courageous, it was also more polite. Thank goodness I hadn't turned 18 yet, and couldn't stay past midnight. 2. The Limp Noodle As much as that classification would be a fun lead-in to naughtiness, when I say "limp noodle,"I'm talking about a dancer's arms. The Limp Noodle was raised believing that all women are delicate daisies and must be handle with the care given to priceless art. Or, maybe he is just really awkward about physical contact. Either way, when he puts his arms around you, it's like getting a hug from your great grandma, and while that's endearing in that little old lady, it is not conducive to effective dancing. I KNOW THIS BECAUSE: I've experienced this one too many times to count. It's awkward, at most, when one is in a clubbing situation. If you know anything about club dancing, it basically revolves around a girl rubbing her front half or back half up against a guy's front. It basically is sex on a dance floor, with some clothes interposed, and though that might be your cup of tea, it logically recalls some parts touching between the dance partners. This doesn't work if a guy is afraid to touch you. I don't understand why a guy with that issue would even bother trying to go clubbing. However, they do, and they keep finding me. I don't mind dancing by myself, but it's awkward if I think I have a partner, and I have to keep looking back to see if there's even a guy behind me anymore. As sad as this is, though, it's worse to encounter this guy in a more structured dance setting. Far too often, the fellow thinks he's a Jedi, and can manipulate you with subtle thought into that spin. If it doesn't work, sometimes he'll look at you like it's YOUR FAULT, and he's disgusted that you fall so far below his level. When this happens, I call him a Dance Princess in my head. Someday, I will say it to his face. That will be highly entertaining.3. The Ninja Groper Though I have definitely encountered this specimen, I think he is best exemplified in my best friend's experience. During that same German trip, we went to the club on the night of my 18th birthday, to celebrate my ability to not turn into a pumpkin at midnight and get kicked out. I was much more scantily clad this time, having figured out the common dress code, but Erica has rarely had a problem with showing some skin, so she lacked the nervousness that I displayed, which was reminiscent of the girl with the itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny, yellow polka dot bikini. Being short, top-heavy, and long-lashed, it never takes long for Erica to attract a dance partner, and the fellow of choice this evening was an intriguingly "exotic"man with confidence in his dance steps. I know most of this story through retelling, as I managed to find a lovely Airforce man off-duty, and was thoroughly happy in my own little world, but I've heard it so many times I might as well have been in Erica's tiny little shoes. This man didn't hesitate to get right up behind her and start grinding, but he also felt it necessary to employ all of his, as she would imply, 8-15 limbs. She would gently remove one hand from her cleavage, to find another groping her backside. She ended up trying to do a sexy windmill dance, frantically flailing to deter his sneaky self. Finally, he metamorphosed, like a really creepy butterfly, into the Aggressive Lord of the Dance. Becoming more insistent, he forcibly bent her forward in a blatantly sexual position. At this point, I was yanked out of my lovely dance with my handsome soldier. "Oh my God, Kaitlin, did you hurt your foot?!?" I could see the attractive dancer she had just left, so I couldn't fathom why she thought she was sensing phantom pains from me. I was fine. My feet, along with the rest of me, were very happy. It was obvious from her crazy eyes, however, that she was not. "I think that's blood! We should get that looked at!!!" Prattling desperately, she yanked me off the dance floor, while my partner and hers looked on in bemusement. I couldn't really mind her using me as a decoy. When faced with the wily Ninja Groper, sometimes you need a bad-ass to back you up. And that would be me. I am also very modest.