I don’t like being dipped. Well, that’s not entirely true. When a dip feels right, and goes right, and I’m able to actually let myself do it, I love being dipped. Plus, there’s that little adrenaline rush from successfully doing something that is, frankly, a little terrifying. But successful dips are rare. I have certain basic anxieties about being dipped, some related to body size issues, others which go to a visceral level, which cause me to be infinitely picky about when and how I allow myself to be dipped, and by whom. Some of this is whether or not I trust my partner to both know how to dip correctly (there are right ways and wrong ways to go about this, and I’m not interested in falling on my butt on the dance floor because some guy wanted to show off), and also, frankly, be up to the challenges of dipping someone of my size. At the same time, it’s not entirely about how much I trust or have confidence in my partner. There are at least two guys whom I trust very much and love dancing with whom I have never been able to allow to really dip me. It’s not even a conscious decision. My body either goes into the dip or it doesn’t, and by the time I realize what I have or haven’t done, the moment and opportunity are gone. I find this extremely frustrating.
This week I said good-bye to Sky. He’s heading off into the wilds of Washington state, where he will work at a retreat center on a remote island. The only way to access the island is by ferry, which comes three times a week. His job will be to be the IT coordinator, which includes shoveling out the satellite dish when it snows. I’m very happy for him – this is a perfect job, one he’s been looking for for over a year now. At the same time, I’m going to miss him a lot. It’s not just the dances, though I’m going to miss those very much. I don’t know how to summarize five years of dancing and friendship, so I’m not going to, but it really is sad to see him go.
On Wednesday night we had a good-bye jam for Sky. For non-swing dancers, this is sortof like an exhibition dance done to honor a particular person on their birthday, or to say good-bye, or to mark a big event (i.e. an upcoming wedding). You make a big circle on the dance floor with the honoree in the middle, and everyone claps along to the song while the honoree dances and partners steal him or her back and forth. It’s a lot of fun. People try to show off their best stuff, or to pull off smooth steals, and the audience is usually loudly appreciative.
On Wednesday, I started Sky off for his jam. It was a good song, and we were dancing along, and then as a break approached, Sky started leading me in some weird move. I had no idea what he wanted me to do, but he kept leading me sort of backwards, so I kept taking steps backwards. It felt totally awkward and unmusical, and I couldn’t imagine why he would lead a move like this in the middle of a jam. Then I felt his knee against the back of my legs, and I realized that he was trying to get me to dip. And it wasn’t just a little dip, no, it was one of the big, full-out dips that I almost never do, and which I have never done with Sky. He’s tried to lead dips like that before, and it just doesn’t work. I just can’t get my body to do it. He knows this. I was a little put out, and I threw up my hands and said very definitely, “No!” Unfortunately, the music had just gotten softer, and my “No” rang loud and clear. Sky wisely gave up at that point, led me in something else, someone stole him from me, and the jam continued from there.
So to sum up, the guy tried to dip me during his good-bye jam, and not only did I not do the dip, I clearly and vocally denied him in front of everyone at the dance. Just kill me now.
I went and apologized to him later, and he explained sheepishly that he thought if I didn’t have time to think about it maybe I would be able to just do it. I looked at him and said, “Sky, there were people watching!” And he kinda shrugged, and gave me a hug, and it was all better.