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"I Can't Dance!"

"I can't dance – I'm not a dancer,” those thoughts rang through my head. "I'm too old to start learning now”, what if I try and fail?”. It was a deep insecurity, a real palpable fear. Would I look foolish? Would people dance with me as a beginner? Could I handle the rejection? Can I even dance? My next thought was, “What would be the price of not trying?

So, I signed up for a dance classes. My dance teacher invited me to a retirement home to help entertain and socialize with the residents for Valentine's Day. I was a beginner dancer but could manage dancing well enough to assist.

As the music began, I went around the room asking each senior women if they would like to dance. One said, "I wished I learned to dance but now it’s too late, I can barely walk now." Others expressed similar sentiment, citing health conditions. Suddenly one woman jumped up out of her seat, waving her hands frantically in the air, she said, “I want to dance, I'm Mary!” and before I could introduce myself she grabbed my hand and starts kicking up her heels to the music. I was barely hanging on, scared that she would fall. She danced like a wild stallion, in a pure state of joy, and smiling from ear to ear. After her exuberance subsided she finally sat down to rest but continued to bounce in her chair to the music.

When our visit ended the attending nurse came up to me and said, "I don't know what you did to Mary, but she has never walked down the hall to her room unassisted – she is so wracked arthritic pain she always needs assistance to get to her room”. This time Mary was literally skipping down the hall by herself, smiling and whistling!

In that moment I witnessed the power of dance. Just the memory of dancing and hearing the music triggered all the endorphins in her body to overcome pain. Her memory allowed her to immediately tap into that passion, a time machine, making her youthful and vibrant again.

“What would her life be like if she had never danced?”.

How could dance change your life? Fear verses regret – what would you choose? I chose to face my fears, and what I got back was a ten fold return. Like Mary, I found absolute joy, friends, confidence, laughter, gratitude, health, community and a passion for dance.

I danced almost everyday–like Mary– I became possessed. I had some dance skills but my perception was that I was still not a dancer? That doubt lead me to seek out more opportunities to learn. I went to visit the largest professional ballroom in San Francisco, “The Metronome Ballroom” as I spied in the front window I thought, "Wow, those are real dance professionals – I could never be that good!”. Little did I know that four years later I would be teaching Lindy Hop professionally at that same ballroom.

What it took was a shift in my perception, at forty-four years old I wasn’t too old, I could dance, I could be a dancer if I followed my heart and passion. Live life with no regrets.

– Chad Kubo

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