Let me be frank. (Aren't I always?)
I only started learning to dance a few months ago.
And now I teach dance...
How ironic, or presumptuous, is that?
But I had no choice in the matter. My partner and I had been interested in Zydeco music for years and wanted to find some way to dance to it. When I discovered that you could line dance to Zydeco, our options changed very much for the better.
I then realized that the Zydeco dances I was excited about were a branch of a much broader phenomenon that encompassed roots music, urban soul, R and B and Hip Hop which was variously called "Soul" Line Dance.
That no one taught Soul Line Dance was a disappointment which I rectified by learning to teach it myself.
And that's what I have done by using YouTube as my tutor.
So far I've learnt and taught ten Zydeco line dances. And what a fun journey it has been.
What began as a confusing lot of dance steps on video which may have taken me a week to deconstruct and replicate, is now something I can nail in a couple of practice sessions.
I study the video of a targeted dance; slow it down; take notes ... then I practice the steps while returning to the video source to correct my choreography.
I then teach --share -- what I know.
As they say, you don't know how to do anything until you can try to teach it.
So here I am -- after a few months -- an exponent of Soul Line Dance with a repertoire of Zydeco and some students.
Who woulda thought?
I'm not claiming I am a great dancer. No way. (Nor a great teacher.) But then 'line dancing' isn't about becoming Fred Astaire, James Brown or Mikhail Baryshnikov. It is group physical activity -- to music -- that is choreographed. It is also one helluva workout.
But it ain't Zumba. There's no hype...and I'm not making any money.
Without the teaching I wouldn't be able to form the (essential) line of dancers; and without the teaching my skill level would wallow.
I practice every day. I practice because I love to dance this stuff. And the more I practice the better dancer I become.
But I'm also improving my cognitive skills such that my brain now thinks in dance mode such that I can pick up, retain and replicate these at times complicated moves without getting routines mixed up with one another.
The re-training that's happening inside me is amazing and I gotta defer to all of what the exponents say about dance therapy.
On top of that is the excitement of discovery. It is thrilling to explore the choreographies that the US Afro American community (and Soul Line Dance is overwhelmingly a black culture) are creating. The scene is relentlessly creative and generous.
For any one dance I master there are many others I yearn to lean. I'm ambitious. I look at funk and hip hop routines, dances based on contemporary soul music, classic James Brown moves and think: some day all this will be mine.
I've even linked up with the Soul Line Dance community in the US through Happy Feet and I suspect our club is rather unique: offshore and primarily white.
In the United States, Soul Line dancing is being actively promoted as a health tool within the Afro American community and it is not unusual to come across videos where among the dancers are folk using walking sticks.
Any and every one, you see, can dance -- but I guess I need to point out that dance culture and music is a black American specialty. They do it better than any one else because they own the patent.
To compare Soul Line Dance with its country cousin -- the he-haw boot scootin' stuff -- well, there is simply no easy comparison. They are a world apart as the choro in country line dancing is tackled so differently. It's like military drill. While country line dancing has opened up to urban and exotic sounds -- Latin for instance and pop music -- the engagement is different: straight backed, tight formations, no improv allowed -- stay in line/behave.
There is a wide cultural divide.
So for me the world is a land of a thousand dances and I don't know where my feet are going to carry me, but I'm looking forward to the journey.