(And let’s dance while you’re at it…)
People are often surprised that I teach hip hop dance. It might not seem that weird if you read about it here on my blog or on my facebook page, but if you meet me in person I don’t come off as the artsy, super expressive, “in your face” kind of dancer. And I like it that way. 🙂
I’d like to share with you how I finally got myself involved in hip hop dance. I was in my last semester of junior college and grinding away trying to get into architecture school. Luckily I was almost done with all my requirements and ended up having some extra units to fill to keep my full time status as a student. I’d always wanted to try a hip hop dance class but really never pursued it because of a multitude of reasons — I didn’t have time, I’m too embarrassed, I don’t wanna hang out with ghetto people, whatever. But at some point I just had to admit to myself that if I really want to try hip hop dance and REALLY see if I’m good at it, I better just take a class. So I did.
It was just a once-a-week class for two hours every Friday evening. I remember talking to my sister before the class and telling her how nervous I was because I was literally expecting the worst: it was going to be a room full of all these talkative asian girls and guys, all sitting around chatting it up and then turning and giving my the stink eye because I was new. I imagined a less-than-friendly teacher who was already buddies with all the returning students, and that I would from the get-go be the black sheep and have to prove that I’ m worthy to join their dance team. Mind you, this was my brain on overdrive and imagine the worst case scenario and really believing this is what I would see — typical of an introvert dealing with shyness issues. Looking back on it now it was silly to take my pessimistic thinking so far. I mean, it was a hip hop class, not an America’s Best Dance Crew audition.
I found the room where the class was going to be and there were a few people hanging outside. They did look over at me but they didn’t glare or look me up and down like I had imagined they would. And no, it wasn’t a group of identical asian guys and girls all dressed alike — it was a variety of skin colors and body shapes and sizes. I remember it so vividly: I walked through the door, past the two girls standing right there and I heard it: “Are you the teacher?”
I turned around and I was like “ME?!”
And when she confirmed that I shyly said no and went and sat down. At the time it was ridiculous that anyone would think the first timer was the teacher, but I guess it may have been a sign that I was in the right place. And I really was.
Needless to say, the class was a great experience for me. The teacher wasn’t some crude, unfriendly girl who was best friends with the front row dancers. In fact she was probably in her late 40’s and not super cut and ripped, but NORMAL looking. And she was cool, she ran the class like a class, had some good moves to teach us and it ended up being a great semester. At the time I was still dealing with shyness issues so I didn’t make any close friends, unfortunately. But the people in the class were okay. And more importantly, they weren’t the evil glare-at-you-the-second-you-walk-in type either.
And no, they weren’t ghetto. Well actually maybe some of them were, looking back on the girl in the funny printed tight pants and frizzy latina hair and sunglasses, but I ended up really enjoying being around these people I had at first negatively labeled as “ghetto.” I’ve never had so much fun watching people dance three feet from a mirror and freestyle to really fun and funky hip hop music before class started every week.
My point is: I really could have convinced myself not to register for that class. I really could have stayed at home and continued with my nose to the grindstone with my architecture projects. I really could have said “Well, I would love to learn but I’ll wait until I’m all done with architecture school.” But I didn’t — and just by taking the first step of registering for a community college basic hip hop dance class, I got a little glimpse of what I’d eventually be doing in just a few short years. And I had someone ask me if I was the teacher! Sure, it was terrifying and I really wanted to run and hide from the opportunity, but it was also a great chance for me to try something new and break that shell of shyness a little bit with something that really interested me.
My challenge to you is to consider that “thing” that you’ve always wanted to try. What’s holding you back? If it’s YOU then don’t listen. If you’re getting clouded with negative, pessimistic thoughts about how it won’t be worth it, then stop thinking about it. Just go do it. Whether you want to dance, learn a new instrument, change careers, or just ask a guy out — the only way toward that goal is forward. So take the first step, take a moment to notice that the sky isn’t falling, and then take the next step. You’ll be fine, and I’m here for you if you need additional encouragement.
Go for it, guys! Get get ’em!