A Night at the Crazy Horse Saloon
Two stepping to a new outlook.
Sometimes the routine of life draws a gray cloud over you that you really don't notice until the fog is so thick, you can't remember life being any other way. Life is good; you have a good job that pays the bills, you're in good health, no major crisis has befallen you. But the simple ennui of doing the same things week in, week out gives a vague sense of existential dread and somewhere in the back of your mind you're always wondering if there will ever be more to living than this.
That's the state I was in a couple weeks ago. That chronic, low-grade anxiety was gnawing away at my sanity as I mentally counted the weeks until vacation when I saw a Meetup invite for an event at a place I'd never heard of, The Crazy Horse Saloon.
I get an email from a Meetup.com group intended to encourage locals and especially singles to go out and explore different experiences in the city; today it's for some place called the Crazy Horse Saloon. I recall I've seen the place...it sits in a tired shopping center near my kinda-sorta ex-boyfriend's house the next 'burb over. Go out to a bar on a Wednesday night? I'm exhausted as it is, but I'm intrigued by the offer of free dance lessons. Doesn't specify what kind dance--maybe hip hop? Judging by the name of the place, I thought line dancing, but you never know.
Facing possible awkwardness and uncertainty about the crowd attending, I waffle on my plans for the evening. The semi-ex and I are on good terms and still spend a lot of time together, but I know he won't go with me to this. Or well, he might, but would probably hate it...dance classes or any classes for that matter just aren't his speed. So if I choose to go, it will be alone. And it's just as well. Here's the deal--am I living right now? Working 8-5 day after day, week after week just isn't cutting it for a fulfilling life, but a girl's gotta eat, right? Since turning 30, I've become acutely aware of just how much life is passing by now. I thought by avoiding marriage and children I would have the time I needed to fulfill my dreams, but it still seems like there's too much work and debt hanging around that prevents me from focusing on anything except paying back student loans and funding my 401k. When did I turn into a grown up?
Enter a mid-week adventure. Going out to an unknown bar to do unknown dancing with unknown people might not be an intriguing as zip-lining through the Congo, but it's the best I can come up with on a Wednesday night.
I pull into the parking lot and view the entrance with some trepidation--what kind of a crowd is this going to be? I seem to always dread being surrounded with people my own age, no matter what that age is at the time; probably from years of social awkwardness at school. However, I resolve no matter who is in there, I'm going to stay and have a good time. I enter the dark dance hall and notice a large dance floor on the left and a bar on the right. Cover is only $5. Only a handful of people have arrived and they are all middle-aged or retirees, it appears. Whew, I can handle this! I felt a little bit out of place being the youngest person and attending without a partner, but doubted this would be much of a problem.
I notice the bar is pretty basic and doesn't serve any kind of food and I'm starving. No way I can dance the night away on an empty stomach, so I duck out and over to the Big Lots next door for some cashews and veggie chips. I stuff a few handfuls in my mouth in my car and then head back inside the dance hall. Still feeling a bit nervous, I order a beer to help me relax before the dancing starts.
Finally the dance teacher appears and gathers everyone to the floor. She is a short, stocky woman in her 50s with striking white hair. She barks enthusiastically to us the first position to start. The dance style is to be Western Swing; oh good, some line dancing! There is another person or two with no partner, so the lines will work out and I won't be left standing there like an idiot. The fact that most people are older than me takes some of the pressure off; older men always enjoy dancing with me, so even if I suck at this, they are sure to be forgiving.
The first step she teaches us is the Sugar Push. I fumble at first but get the hang of it quickly. Then she adds a second type of step. Then a third. All the while, I am moving every few cycles to a different partner. I do my best, but feel rather awkward. Some of the men smile and offer helpful tips, some stare nervously ahead of me and go through the moves mechanically. Some are eager to show off their expertise, some are oafishly clumsy with sweaty palms and seem embarrassed. A few bold ones let their hands linger on my hip a bit too long as they spin me. But as I move through the rounds, I realize I'm having a great time! This isn't so bad. I notice some couples who have obviously been doing this a long time and came decked out in all their own gear; a woman with shiny red cowboy boots and a tight fitting leather jacket with corded fringe down the sides was dancing with a man wearing a cowboy hat, western cut shirt and shiny, silver tipped boots. They looked straight out of a Burt Reynolds movie. This is obviously a big deal to some. I manage to strike up a few conversations here and there and think about coming back again.
When the dance lessons were over, there was an open-dance with the DJ taking requests. The more experienced couples did their fancy footwork and I sat down at a table to watch them twirl around. Overall, the night was good and I left feeling better. I learned that it pays to make room for new experiences and that perhaps, the best part of life is not the adventurous things you do, but the courage and determination you put into living every day life. Perhaps I don't have to dance with aborigines in Australia to live a full life; I got just as much reward by finding it in myself to visit a dance hall down the street. It seems life isn't really about what happens to you, but what you bring to the experiences that come your way.
Do you frequently try to step out of your comfort zone?
© 2014 Valene