At least if you’re a modest, introverted, shy woman of a late twenty-something age. Which I am.

I remember the first time I ever heard of a “booty roll.” I had been at the dance studio for about a month (4-5 weekends) and I thought he was joking. Then I watched him demonstrate. He wasn’t joking. Hand over mouth, face vaguely horrified, I said only one thing. “I’m not doing that.”

But I did. And it was pretty fun.

When I decided to commit to learning ballroom, I was prepared to be pushed outside my comfort zone. Heck, just going to that first class, putting myself out there for total strangers, was stepping outside that zone. By the end of that day, I was hot and sweaty, I’d been teased by my teacher and classmates for being so outrageously nervous, I was convinced I had embarrassed myself twenty times over, and I wanted nothing more than to come back the next week.

Do I enjoy embarrassing myself? No. Definitely not. Of things I enjoy, it doesn’t make the list. It doesn’t even make the waiting list. But if I have to hit that booty roll in order to feel that rush of a combo well done, then you can bet your booty roll I will. There is a pure, no strings attached joy from ballroom dancing, and when you’re in that moment, stopping to think about how much of a dork you feel like only quadruples your dorkiness. Especially when you add in the “I don’t wanna do this” shuffle just before you jump into the dance again, confusing your partner and making you also look like a dork to complete the set. So I don’t stop to think. I let that fun and joy carry me through the mortifying parts, and if at the end I’m giggling and blushing like I’m twelve, so be it. Chances are a couple of my classmates are too, and they’re there to laugh with me until that mortification feels as harmless as it really is (unless we’re talking private lessons, where my instructor is more than happy to laugh at me for me).

Laughing at yourself isn’t always easy. I certainly wasn’t laughing when I elbowed a woman in the face in my very first social dance (she took it better than me) or stomped on my teacher hard enough to be graced with extremely colorful language. I did laugh when I bopped my partner in the nose, and when I fell flat on my back and took a different partner down with me (miraculously, all these people continue to dance with me).  I laugh whenever my teacher asks me to demo with him for the class, and I get so turned around I hear “Right foot free. Your other right foot. That one. No, that one!” Was I embarrassed? Of course. Am I still? Sometimes. I did elbow her in the face. But in those moments, I have my dancemates and my teachers. Sometimes they’re the ones embarrassing me (especially my teacher), most times they’re letting me know everything turned out just fine.

Comfort zones will be a recurring theme throughout my blog, I expect. Mine is small and limited. Every new thing I learn at the studio pushes its boundaries a little more. Often a lot more. Yes, that means I get embarrassed easily. But embarrassed to death or not, I haven’t died from it yet.

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