Let’s Dance – Allemande Left

Inspired by translator Matt Popplewell’s LinkedIn post on preparing for a half-marathon, I’d like to share my own experience—not of „pounding the pavements“ (as Matt puts it), but of twirling and swinging across the dance floor.

As an experienced Nordic walker and home exercise enthusiast („wer rastet, der rostet“ – s/he who rests, rusts!), I decided to take on a new challenge in February. Unlike my classmates who started in September („Class“ as we are affectionately dubbed), I was a bit late to the party.

Let’s have a look at how the six principles Matt discovered apply to my (sometimes fumbling!) square dance adventure:

New things can be scary, but you can do them.

At first, it was much more difficult than I had expected. The steps were like a secret code and the calls sounded like gibberish from a foreign film. (We never know which moves are coming next; it’s the caller’s job to let us know.) But with practice and support from the others (I’ll tell you more about them later), it slowly began to make sense.

Everyone makes mistakes, that’s okay.

So I started with stumbles, wrong turns, and not understanding the calls. What did I do? I smiled (sometimes cursed under my breath or out loud) and kept practising. And now I’m dancing with much more confidence.

Getting better takes work.

Square dancing may not be a marathon, but it keeps me on my toes (literally!). The choreography requires focus, coordination, and surprisingly, a good dose of memorisation. Going through the steps at home with the help of a small app and YouTube has been incredibly helpful. And it’s a wonderful feeling when you realise you’ve just mastered a new move.

Compare yourself to yourself, not others.

If I compare myself to the experienced dancers (those who dance Mainstream), I might feel discouraged. So instead, I focus on my own progress. Being able to navigate the square with fewer mistakes than the week before is a victory in itself.

You need others to succeed.

We beginners are supported by helpers called “angels,” experienced dancers who gently guide us. We are never alone. There’s always someone willing to help. In fact, the camaraderie and sense of community are just as rewarding as the dancing itself.

Things are not always what they seem.

I used to folk dance in my school days and thought square dancing would be similar. But while it might look like fancy steps and easy twirls, there’s so much more to it. It’s a fun way to exercise, meet new people, and challenge your brain.

Are there some new activities you’d like to try but feel hesitant about?

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Foto Christine Sparks

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