In my ongoing quest to discover the star inside, I found myself, one day a few years ago, signing up for a series of evening tap dance classes. The online description was perfect — a series of eight classes, one hour each, targeted at beginners, start whenever you want. All that was required was a pair of tap shoes. While my lack of athletic prowess is legendary, my ability to pick up dance skills is actually quite good. And given that tap is an excellent cardio workout, what did I have to lose? Well, maybe just a bit of my dignity.
I’ve always been a huge fan of tap — the look of it (casual ease), the sound of it (come on, admit it, you like the sound of tap shoes too), and the spirit of it (it just looks so damn happy). One of my favorite dancers is the late and legendary Gregory Hines (click here to see his tap dance brilliance). He made it all look so effortless, so natural, so “I want to do that too,” that I thought these lessons would be my ticket to a new passion.
So I show up for the first class, tap shoes and water bottle in hand, hoping that the studio wouldn’t be too crowded and that everyone would have enough dance space. So not a problem — there were only two other dance students in the class. Both were shorter than me. Cuter than me. Way, way younger than me. One was 10; her baby sister was 7; I was out of my league. Not only that, but the dancing darlings had already had a full summer’s worth of lessons; in fact, that “start whenever you want” selling feature was a bit of bogus bait-and-switch — because I was starting with nothing.
Enter the instructor — a platinum-blonde-mohawk kind of beauty, about 20 or so, with multiple piercings and tats on her dancer’s frame. But very sweet. She encouraged me to try to keep up. She showed us the steps and the little girls would mimic her perfectly (why wouldn’t they — they had spent all summer learning the routine), while I tried to dance my little feet off. At the end of the hour, I needed oxygen, the girls needed new material, and the instructor needed to text her agent to see if she’d gotten a call back from her audition earlier in the day.
The end result? While I did survive that first lesson, I realized that this was not the class for me. Maybe an adult ed tap class instead. Maybe a how-to-tap DVD using the portable “dance floor” that B. made for me. Or maybe I’ll just walk around in my tap shoes to hear the fun sounds.
© 2013 Claudia Grossman