WEST COAST SWINGMetamorphosis: Athlete To Dancer

by I. J. Wanadans

Oh, boy, has dancing changed my life. Instead of Tennis Tournaments it's Dance Festivals; it's big changes and little ones.

Car keys now go in the left pocket not the right pocket. How many times do you jab either her or yourself in a closed dance position before you get smart?

Deodorant...big change. At tennis tournaments there's no need. You take three showers a day, the nearest human being is seventy-eight feet away, and after eating dinner you're so drained you crash in front of the TV. Now that I'm dancing there's one stick in the bathroom, one in the closet, and one in the travel bag. One of these always seems to be running low.

Out go the wrist bands and in come the breath mints. Out go the Racket Bags and in come the Garment Bags.

Tennis Shoes out, Dancing Shoes in. I used to own separate pairs of sneakers for practise, teaching, and competing: for hard courts, clay courts, grass courts: and a couple of new pairs of each awaiting their turn in the rotation. I easily owned fifteen pair. They're now gone, all gone except for two teaching pair. One month after my first dance lesson I bought a pair of Dancing Shoes on a lark. Four months after, and with great drive, I bought Bowling sneakers for casual, daytime, jeans kind of dancing. I see now clearly on the horizon some brown dancing shoes coming my way. But, oh my gosh, won't I need a light shade of brown and a dark shade? And aren't my original black shoes about to wear out?

Instead of Tennis Jackets it's now Blazers, pants instead of shorts,dress socks instead of athletic socks, dress shirts replacing T-Shirts, generic colored polos standing in where labeled white ones used to rule. The cost of this transition initially stunned me as the tennis stuff came free from companies eager to use me as a walking billboard. The psychic price I paid, however, was quite great in that I never presented myself as the real me. As I'm certain their profit margin won't suffer, and I look and feel better, the monetary outlay for this change in wardrobe is inconsequential, necessary, and mutually agreeable.

At tournaments the female players usually look like NFL middle linebackers. If she doesn't look like that, she's probably someone's consort... unapproachable in both cases. At dance festivals everyone looks good to me! Beginner through advanced, married or single, all are approachable to dance.

Match-day 8 am breakfasts are anxious...Dance-night 2 am breakfasts are exhausted. Match-night 8 pm dinners are exhausted...Dance-night 6 pm dinners are anxious. Have I flipped, or what? Thankfully, refreshing afternoon naps haven't changed...only the dreams have changed.

Arguing tennis tactics with the guys has transformed into exchanging dancing techniques with the gals. Admit to being wrong on the tennis court...you lose. Admit to being wrong on the dance floor...you win! Post-Match my hands smell from sweat, leather, and gatorade. Post-Dance my hands smell from hand lotion, perfume, and pheromones.

But seriously now, here is the most profound Metamorphosis of all: On the tennis court you seek out, magnify, and exploit your opponent's weaknesses. Walking around the planet doing this day after day, year after year makes for a very critical, aggressive persona...not a very happy life. On the dance floor, however, you seek out, magnify, and spotlight your partner's strengths. Doing this day after day makes for a very friendly, forgiving, embraceable persona...a far happier daily stream of living.

From catepillar to buttefly, happy dancing everybody!