This is a mouse tale, about my mouse tails.
What is a mouse tail?
Mouse tails and ears are what some ballet people call the strings that you secure your slipper or shoe with at the front of your slipper once they form a bow. Because on a little foot they resemble a little mouse. When your strings are adjusted and tied to fit, it is customary for teens and adults to cut the strings off and commit to a good fitting neat and tidy looking shoe.
I shouldn’t really put any sort of number age on the cutting of the tails, it’s more the significance of a mental age. Anyone who is serious and committed to Ballet will cut the tails off regardless of number age. With out hesitation. They are serious about Ballet and understand that how they look are how they are judged by others. When you walk into a Ballet class the one that looks the part, most likely is the part. Anyone who is, how shall I put it, less concerned about appearances or who chooses to keep their options open, will most likely, if actually concerned, tuck their tails inside their shoes, thus ultimately not committing to… a lot of things. It could be argued that these people choose to not cut their tails because they are too busy dancing to be bothered by such things, but lets face it, that’s really not what’s going on here.
With this in mind here is my mouse tale…
I want to dance Lindy Hop way more than I do. I have no one to dance it with competitively and barely socially that is at my level. I’ve spent so much time practicing with others at places like the Lindy Groove, attending all the workshops, going to just about every reputable teacher in Southern California that teaches it and I’m finally good at it. It’s my best dance. We won Top Solo for that dance and while it should feel great, there is actually only a lump in my throat because I know that it won’t be again for a long while.
I’ve looked and searched for partners, dancepartner.com, craigslist, going to all the Lindy Groove type everything, all of it, nothing. Pro Am Lindy isn’t really an option. I even put an amazing amount of energy into bringing someone up and appeasing his ego and telling him to not give up, sending him to my teachers and spending hours working with him after classes so he could get better and the second he learned to actually dance, I got tossed. Which is fine, I guess, it’s his choice. It’s just disappointing, because he lead me to believe that he might have other aspirations then just a dance or two in a social setting.
Lindy Hop is a young mans game and often in a young mans game, (the male to female ratio is easily 3 to 1 female, the men have their pick.) partnering with someone you dance with means sleeping with them (not so delicate, you’re having all the sex with them). Also, often in a young mans game, sleeping with someone who is older than you by a lot isn’t really what you may want. With this in mind, I’m not a desirable partner by any means. I’m good at Lindy and it doesn’t matter.
I never thought that winning anything would screw with my head so badly. I’m ready to commit to Lindy Hop. I’m at a place where I feel like the sky’s the limit, I’m advanced and now it’s just time to get really really good and that’s just NOT going to be what happens.
Walk away? No, I have to dance. Dance is just going to happen in my life. So something new? No. I’ve started up with so many different dance forms that I know how hard it is to not only abandon a dance but start-up from scratch. The starting, leveling off and starting again from the beginning, it is so hard and it is such a trying thing mentally to ones confidence and ego. I have done it enough to know that starting a new dance is not the path I want to go down now.
I won’t be cutting the tails off that way.
Ballet, oh Ballet, I could get so lost in you. My passion for Ballet is there and KNOWING that I don’t need a partner SO alluring but I know Ballet isn’t right. Even with all of the pretty pink ribbons and tulle Ballet won’t fill the need I have to push myself and have a satisfying out come. I’ll always be banging my head against the wall. I’m too old, far to injured and have far to large a cup size for to be taken seriously in ballet. I’ll know that I’ll pay to see the companies and be relegated to class time with the knowledge that I will stick to ballet, but not go down a serious path with it.
I’m not going to cut my mouse tails there either.
So where is the only place that I have found where I can actually grow in the way that will satisfy me? The most expensive place in the world, competitive ballroom. My last bastion of hope is in a dance I started taking somewhat seriously in January.
I have committed to doing Embassy Ball at the end of the month and I’m just stuck. I don’t feel good about it. I feel like I’m being pulled in three other directions that aren’t right but because they are familiar, are far more alluring. Yet here I am, paying Youriy to drag my ass in what is now appears to be three-legged race; I mean that in the sence that I’m doing everything that he asks of me half-assed.
Beaten up with my emotions, I half-assed a coaching session with a coach that I really shouldn’t have. The coach tells me, the truth. In my Smooth dance, my timing is off and that I need to not grab for “my man”. Which, first is hilarious and second are totally legit comments. I’m guilty. But I’m also not stupid and I know what “those are the things that I see need to be fixed first” means. That coaching session killed me, because the things I need to work on are things I’ve gotten past in Lindy or in Lindy I’ve gotten closer to fixing them then in any other dance; frustration ensues.
If I’m going to take the floor at Embassy Ball and taken be seriously I need a good dress. I can not wear the one that I made because one of the apliques that I used, shreds and pills fabric on my partner’s suit and I’m not sure which one it is, so either tear the dress apart trying to figure that out or buy a new one. Even on consignment, the cost of just the dress is going to cost around 2500$.
Why is it money that seems to make things suddenly serious? Here is the part in the story where I have to choose if I’m going to put my money where my mouth is and cut off my mouse tails, no doubt, no issues, absolutely no buyer remorse.
After the coaching session my only thought was, darlin’ you know how many lessons $2500 finances? And that is where you should be putting that money, in class fixing all the things that you suck at.
This is it, my last dance, quite literally, I have to ask myself why? Why doesn’t this actually feel right?
I don’t feel committed to Smooth. I just don’t. The only time I practice is when I’m in class. I have no partner and I don’t have a place to practice even by myself. My apartment is too small and I have carpets. If I try to even take a step of ballroom in my Ballet class, my teacher is all to quick to point out that what I am doing is not Ballet.
On every day of the week I know when there is a Lindy or Swing dance. I go for two and a half hours four days a week in Ballet. There really isn’t the same equivalent in Ballroom. Once again, unless you have a partner, there is no real way to practice. Is there a solution, some half way point? Yes, I found out. Learn the routines on your own, find a space and dance them by yourself. I always thought that was weird and pointless. How is it beneficial as a follow? It did not compute and up until now there was no one threatening to make me do my routines in front of him.
Fear said, “I am willing to try practicing on my own.”.
I found a practice space, paid the floor fee and I spent six hours learning my routines and understanding my space and alignment on the line of dance, without a partner. I got all that I could on my own in my muscle memory. I really thought it was a stupid idea and that it would never work, but at my next lesson something happened. I could think “about all the other things that needed fixing”.
There was a measured improvement. There is a viable plan to get better and be committed. I feel better about what I can achieve and what the possibilities are, suddenly it is like I am in a quantum universe and there is an actual probability of going through a solid wall that I am pushing on. **
So, in a quantum leap of faith, I cut my mouse tails. I really hope they don’t come after me like they did with the farmer’s wife.
** I believe the equation for pushing though a wall in the quantum space of dance is: fear over a shit ton of cash divided by practice squared over measured improvement equals commitment.