Dance Dance Dance


I love to dance. I dance all the time, but I always danced by myself. I really enjoy the physical and emotional feeling of it. It’s such a joyful thing to do. But this wasn’t enough for me. I’d always dreamt of experiencing it with another person. I could only imagine how amazing it would be. However, I just couldn’t do it. Just the thought of participating in group dance classes would send me into a blind panic. I was convinced I’d get it all wrong and look ridiculous in front of everybody. The shame would be unbearable. I was totally inhibited, and it was so frustrating because I would sign up for a class and then the day before I would start getting nervous.

I’d force myself to go, but at the entrance to the dance hall, I’d start having a panic attack and couldn’t even go in. Even then I would still force myself in there, but I was in such a state I’d feel really bad and sometimes would just walk out. It would really get me down.

I have a friend, Claire, who had trained in emotional regulation and she taught me how to go into my body when I was stressed, put my attention on the physical things going on in there, and then just let them move and pass through me. I’d done it for other stressful situations in my life but this thing with the dancing lessons was just too much. I would get so consumed by it I wouldn’t think to do it. When I told Claire this, she really encouraged me to become more aware of what was happening in my body before and during the dance lesson and to think to do it.

I remember one day in particular, standing outside a dance hall, getting ready to go inside and take part in my first group lesson for ‘rock’ dancing lesson. I could see everyone inside, and I started to panic, imagining how terrible I’d be and how stupid I’d look. Wild horses couldn’t drag me in there.

Then I remembered going into my body might help. So, I stood there, just behind the door, out of sight, and felt my gut was in knots, my breathing was shallow, and my heart was beating fast. I let all those feelings in my body change and move around. I kept my eyes closed and even said some of the sensations out loud as they were moving so that I would stay in my body and not get distracted. After a minute or so it all calmed down, I opened my eyes and realized that my fears had gone. I calmly walked into the dance hall and took part in the dance lesson! It went really well, I loved it! I was still self-conscious, but it didn’t matter, at least I was finally taking part! I still get panicky sometimes, but I’m not scared like I was and I love it so much, even if I get it wrong it doesn’t matter- I’m doing something I’d always dreamt of and never dared to do and I’m not the only person in there with two left feet.