Students of Arthur Murray Dance Schools have interesting stories about their dance journeys. Here's Part 2 of the dance story of Keith McDonald.
In case you missed the Part 1 of this article - The dance story of Keith McDonald Part 1
...Skip ahead six months. My dance skills and confidence were growing. I was making new friends. The various Arthur Murray franchises in the Puget Sound area would get together for balls and parties and I met even more new people who shared my love of dance.
One day, some students from the North Seattle dance school visited the downtown Seattle school and I recognized one of them as someone with whom I had enjoyed dancing at one of the area parties. She invited me to visit the North Seattle school where I met the franchisee, Mr. Fong Lee.
The North Seattle studio was remarkably similar to the downtown studio - talented instructors, enthusiastic and encouraging students, and a family atmosphere. But it was different in many ways too - more laid back and intimate. And I loved the way Fong interacted with his students - his playful teasing and his genuine concern for their progress mixed well with his honest, non sugar-coated feedback.
Where downtown Seattle instructors were trained to praise even the smallest improvement and to sandwich every critique between two layers of praise, Fong tailored his style of giving feedback to individual students. I appreciate total honesty in assessments and, with Fong, that's what I got. I started attending Saturday afternoon North Seattle classes regularly before my downtown Seattle evening class.
Before long I was going to salsa and swing clubs and feeling no intimidation in asking a random woman to dance. The women at these clubs began to remark on my dancing skills and my confidence. One of my favorite experiences was that in which a woman, rotating among the men in a group class at one of these clubs and finding herself confused and losing confidence in herself would successfully dance the pattern with me and declare: "Holy < expletive deleted >! We're awesome!", her confidence restored.
Along with confidence, my body started to change. Despite cycling regularly in the past, I tended to stay on the high side of a healthy BMI. Dancing changed all that. I lost fifteen pounds and I suddenly could take hills on my bike with few downshifts or windedness. My jawline became more defined. With the change in my posture, I stood an inch and a half taller.
My confidence on the dance floor translated to confidence at work. Previously quiet and reserved, I started to lead discussions, facilitate meetings, sit on panels in front of large audiences and give my opinions. People started asking how I got to be so good at giving presentations. Dancing also changed my appreciation for music. I always had an appreciation for good lyrics and a good voice, but dancing broadened my listening habits. I started to fall in love with songs that I had been ignoring for years.
Are there downsides? Maybe. When a job change caused me to leave Seattle for San Francisco two years ago, proximity to an Arthur Murray dance studio had almost as much weight in my decision of where to live as proximity to work. So dancing has begun to affect my life choices.
The downside of ballroom dancing
I also now tend to mark off time in terms of dance progress. "Oh yes, I remember your wedding! I had just gotten back from the Arthur Murray summer ball. It was right after I graduated from Bronze II."
But it has been worth it. I still love the feeling I get every time I see the progress I've made and I still feel the most exquisite joy when I play a role in making my dance partner feel amazing.