The music starts out soft and rhythmic, a bluesy refrain reminiscent of dimly lit bars and casually intimate conversations. She approaches you from across the dance floor—you noticed her the instant she entered the room—and before you know it, she’s inviting you to dance.
You raise your hands in protest—I don’t know this dance, I don’t know the moves, the rules, I’ll make a fool of myself—but this is one dance you cannot refuse. You stumble out onto the dance floor and feel the weight of a thousand eyes on you as everyone turns in expectant silence. Hands resting lightly in your own, your beautiful partner smiles slightly and widens her eyes in anticipation as the music turns jazzy, wild—this ain’t no beginner’s swing tune, kids, this is the real deal—and you wish you had a drink.
You’re frozen. You don’t know which way to turn, or how to lead—do you even have a right to lead this beautiful, experienced dancer?—and you can see your partner start to frown in annoyance as her foot taps to the beat of the drums. You panic and try to think harder about all the moves you’ve seen on TV and in movies, and struggle to decide which move to make first—what would look best? what would look the flashiest?—but your partner has had enough. Capricious and impatient, she grabs your hands and starts slinging you around the dance floor, twirl here, dip there, but as graceful as she is, she’s not the best lead and soon you’re running into other couples, stepping on people’s toes, your shins will be bruised in an hour.
The people, the music, the sweat, it’s all chaotic and discordant and you’re losing yourself and you’ve had enough of this so you raise your right hand defiantly to signal a turn and to your utter shock she follows, gracefully and with a sense of humor and joy about her. You made it on beat, oh, and there’s the rock-step, good job old chap, you’re getting the swing of it. But you hesitate for a second, questioning what you’re doing, what it looks like, whether it’s right or not, and your partner, well, she senses that weakness and doesn’t know where you want her to go so she’ll move herself thank-you-very-much. She goes any which way in an attempt to keep pace with the music and you realize that this is not a dance and she is not a dance partner who will stop just so you’ll feel more in control.
Suddenly a sweet trumpet soars high above the saxophones and you feel something in your heart and you feel something at all and you realize you’ve been thinking way too much when this is just a dance—who cares?—and so you close your eyes and allow yourself to just feel the music and you’re making up these moves as you go along—you don’t even know what style of dancing you’re doing now—but it feels good and when you open your eyes, your partner’s eyeing you like you’re something she’s never seen before. So you just keep flowing with it, throwing your whole heart and body into the music, into the dance, and oh! What a fine pair you two make! You twirl her this way and that and she glides and flows, effortlessly and gracefully following your lead. And she’s got style, this partner of yours, and knows how to add flare and pizazz to each step and turn and you’re grateful for a partner who knows how to make you look good.
And you’re both lost and found in this music until it’s not you dancing anymore, but it’s the music dancing you and suddenly, somehow, you look expert, like you know what you’re doing, but more importantly you look like you’re having fun and you realize that you are and wasn’t that the point of all of this anyways? Why dance otherwise?
So you decide to never stop dancing, and if at times you falter or think too much or can’t decide which way to go, well, you’ve got a partner who will fling you around until you get your act together and just feel your way through it.