Shut Up and Dance (or How I Learned to Love my Zumba Class)
Back in 1993, whilst having a very neurotic moment, my bestie and I were taking coffee down on the waterfront. I was whining about something (probably how fat or ugly I thought I was and/or what a shitty writer I was and/or my crappy job and/or how grad school was making me mental) and he said:
“Tracey. Shut Up and Dance.”
Yes, in title case. He was one of the few people I knew who could do it.
I’ll spare you the details for now (those of you who know me personally know who it was). He was, essentially, terminal. You see, he knew he wouldn’t make it to 45 (he made it to 42). He lived his last ten years, for the most part, how he wanted to live.
And back then, I had a propensity for whining and bemoaning my fate. And frankly, it kinda pissed him off. We both knew he wouldn’t see 50.
And back then, I couldn’t enjoy the simple things. Like shutting up and dancing. It wasn’t enough that I knew I sucked at things, I had to make sure everyone else knew that I knew. And I was a miserable thing.
Dance like no one’s watching.
Whoever said that was bang-on. I learned that lesson. And I began to dance.
You see, I love to dance. But I am totally uncoordinated and have no sense of rhythm. My limbs go everywhere. I can’t follow a beat. They turn left, I go right (or forward). It’s chaos. But music makes me happy and I love to dance and sing (I can’t sing for shit, either).
And I realized I was on the road to a very bitter life. Sitting on the sides watching other more “worthy” people dance, sing, perform, get ahead, wear mini-skirts. And I would go from envy to hate to self-loathing and more hate and I would NEVER be happy. Life on the sidelines sucks monkey toots.
Which leads me to ZUMBA!
Oh my goodness, the day after God rested, He made Zumba.
I discovered this joy late in life (I was 47). By then I was legitimately overweight, to add to my innate lack of rhythm and ability to follow moves.
And did I give a rat’s patootie?
You bet I did!
I’m in a room of mostly slender younger creatures, half of whom have little jangling bell belts and clearly defined waists. They stand in the front and know the moves. I hated them, for about a minute.
For about a minute until I realized that my hate and self-loathing once again would make me a bitter horrid old bat unless I just Shut Up and Dance(d). And I hate women who hate on other women and I didn’t want to be that skinny-shaming hater.
I took myself into the room and I danced as though no one were looking.
Most weren’t. I was clever enough to stay in the last “row” (no rows truly exist in the last “row” of Zumba… and if you’re uncoordinated, you know what I mean) so those in the front wouldn’t see me dance.
And I rocked! Not that one rocks in Zumba (well, I did). It was so much fun and I didn’t give a crap (sorry, I had to say it) that I couldn’t figure out what the FUCK was going on. Hey, the big picture emerged:
I was there to have fun and do some cardio.
The moves were immaterial. I knew the basics: keep moving and whenever possible, keep those arms up. Do this for an hour. Occasionally yell “whooo” or some other imprecation of joy. (Imprecation of joy? Why not? It’s my blog.)
As long as I stayed in the back, no one would be injured. (If you’ve been to Zumba, you’ll know collisions are possible).
I have to share this video. It’s not of me but of two awesome women (Audri and Jessie) who are having FUN! They are significantly more coordinated than I will ever be. Hats off to them for putting this out there. Because guess what? Some people can do the moves, some can’t.
And some, like me, will NEVER be able to and frankly, I don’t care anyway because I am there to do cardio, dance, and have fun. That’s the main point. I wish I were rich because I would hire these two women to make workout DVDs. But what I really wish for, more, is that others would just learn to Shut Up and Dance.
So what if you “can’t”, just get out there and do what you can. The tagline for my work this week was “better done than perfect” and I think those are important words to live by.
I won’t be perfect. Some may wish I were more coordinated in Zumba (that evil woman a few months back who was annoyed at my gyrations…she was three rows ahead so what does she care if I was going the wrong way and waving my arms when no waving was expected?). Mirthless creature. My cold Steve McQueen stare won the day, I am proud to say. Laughing at her back and blowing a raspberry weren’t the most mature things I’ve done, but very satisfying. And the other Back Row Rats appreciated the gesture.
I’ve talked too long. Audri and Jessie. Ladies, I salute thee! Zumba is hard. But it’s fun. And you gals make me want to just do my own thing so much more.
Oh, and here’s the channel because these videos are not only funny, they’re FUN.
For a bonus treat, The Brazilian Butt Lift:
The takeaway? Get out there and do something. Don’t give a shit if you look stupid. You might. You might not. So what? You are dancing. Exercising. Singing. Drawing. Painting. You are doing things and that’s more than the evil little trolls ever do. Haters hate and that’s all they can do.
And for those who are brought down by self-righteous perfectionists? Look them in the eye and say “I blow my nose at you, unhappy creature.” And walk away.
Life is short. But it’s longer than you think if you’re sitting on the sidelines.