|Me, Amy, & our fans at an Irish dance competition, circa 2003.|
I arrived at the address and beheld a run-down hundred-year-old building whose front door was blocked by three burly blokes. If it's possible to smoke a cigarette in a foreboding manner, that's what they were doing. I strode confidently up the steps, asserting my right to be on the premises. Walking past them with a "Y'alright?" I barged into the building and found myself standing in a quiet, sad, nearly deserted pub. No dance class or hint thereof. One of the two living souls in the room spotted the social awkwardness bubbling beneath the surface of my cool city girl demeanor, and simply said, "They're at the back." Sure enough, behind the bar was a door leading down to the event room. I could hear the old familiar click-clack of jig shoes on hardwood floors, and the accordion music that every Irish dance school seems to use for practice. It's ghastly...but nostalgic too, so it prompted a sort of half-grimace, half-smile from me.
The instructor opened class with a series of drills which, to my horror, involved jump ropes. I was a disastrous tangle of limbs and ponytail and plastic rope, trying to just keep the whole mess bobbing in time with the beat. Warm-ups in the US were never this militant, I thought; ironic, considering that my first dance instructor was a military man by day.
Having survived the jump ropes, I embarked on the most exhausting hour of aerobic activity to which I've subjected myself in eons. The muscles in my very toes were sore until today. I am so out of shape that I even managed to end up with sore arms. That's right, arms -- which you don't even use in Irish step dance. Good grief. Still, it was unbelievably fun and I found myself grinning uncontrollably as I danced. What a good thing it is to find the kind of exercise you can truly enjoy enough to push through the pain! I'm looking forward to going back next Monday. But this time, Jump Rope, I will be the master...