Went country line dancing at a bar on the outskirts of town tonight. A mixed crowd of ordinary looking bar patrons, rednecks, lesbians, and hipsters, all cheek by jowl stepping forward step back quarter turn right shimmy left shimmy right strut right strut left forward back forward back step ball-change etc. I was abjectly bad and very delighted by the whole thing. I was eyeing the best guy dancer, a bearded guy with long hair, wearing black jeans, a purple tie-dye shirt with a picture of a leopard on it, a purple hat with some feathers and beads hanging from it. He had the moves. The second best dancer was a guy in jeans and a denim shirt with some kind of logo stitched on the breast, and a black hat with metallic grommets on it. The third best dancer looked like an accountant, wearing round glasses, loafers and jeans and a plaid flannel shirt, tucked into a belt, with short salt-and-pepper hair.
A short round woman in a turquoise tunic was teaching the dances. She walked around the room with a wireless headset microphone, calling out the moves and pointing at people. "Even Steve can do this dance, it's so easy!" she'd say. "Fake it till you make it!" A heavyset man with a goatee in a black shirt and black hat repeated this mantra to me encouragingly while I fumbled my way through the final dance, a complex number with a confusing shuffle in the middle that threw me off each repetition. I had good people on all sides of me to imitate and still couldn't make it work.
In between lessons, I leaned over the railing on the stairs, grinning and gaping at the dancers who knew the songs and the moves by heart. Confidence on the dance floor is a wonderful thing. A young woman with an intricate tattoo on her back, wearing a black velvet tank top and fabulous orange shimmery pants, befriended me. "I've only been doing this a couple of months," she confessed, in an accent that sounded Scandinavian. "There are lessons on Sundays, where you learn the harder dances. I can finally do the tush push really well. 7 to 10 PM and it only costs $3.00." When she saw me leaving she came over and gave me a hug. "Will I see you on Sundays?" I told her she would definitely see me. I don't know how often I'll line dance, but I want to be able to dabble sometimes without being utterly incompetent. It was really fun, in the rare moments when I had the flow. People were friendly. People watching was entertaining. I'll be back.