Monday, October 10, 2011

So You Think You Can Dance?

No. No, I don't think I can dance actually. I'm not sure where you got that idea. Did someone tell you that? If they did, they're a damn liar.

It's not that I harbor any ill feelings towards dancing, it's just not my thing. In fact, thanks to a complicated mix of lame excuses and feigned injuries, dancing is one of those activities I've managed to avoid the majority of my adult life--like watching "Titanic" or flossing.

So it's understandable that I was a little apprehensive last week when the teachers at a nearby school asked Carly and I to perform a traditional Paraguay dance in front of the whole town. While I was busy trying to figure out how to politely say "Aw, hell no!" in Spanish, my darling wife was beside me happily accepting the invitation.

We had three days to get ready to boogie down for the entire barrio. Having no clue what we were actually supposed to do, we called a neighbor and asked her to teach us a few steps of a traditional Danza Paraguaya. She invited us over and we immediately got to work.

First, we listened to a CD of Paraguayan music and decided on the song that we liked best, i.e., the shortest. We then spent an hour gracelessly learning each step exactly as she showed us. It was hard, sweaty work but we actually started to feel pretty good about what we were doing.

Full of new-found confidence, we headed for the front door and thanked our neighbor for all her help. She asked if we wanted to stay a few extra minutes and watch a DVD of professional dancers doing the exact same dance she just taught us. The idea being we'd get a better understanding of what Danza Paraguaya should look like. We agreed and sat down to watch.

Two things immediately jumped out as the tape began to roll: 1) Carly and I shouldn't quit our day jobs 2) The moves the professionals busted out looked nothing like what she taught us, not even close.

It was the equivalent of someone spending all day teaching you the nuances of country line dancing then putting on a VHS of "Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo" and saying "See. It's just like I taught you."

We were floored. We politely thanked our instructor for her help and headed home more dejected than ever.

The next day, Carly borrowed some steps from a few YouTube videos and choreographed a completely new dance for us to master. We practiced for a couple of hours and got to a point where we were confident we would only slightly embarrass ourselves in front of everyone.

<--Me and Carly practicing in the creek by our house

We visited the school the morning of the festival to make sure the flash drive that contained our music was compatible with the DJ's prehistoric sound equipment. Imagine my excitement when the DJ broke the bad news he couldn't play it. As I turned to Carly with my hand in the air looking for a high-five, she rolled her eyes and reminded me we could just use the CD that we copied our music from and dance to that.

Carly called the neighbor that initially lent us the CD and asked if we could use it that night for the festival. She informed us that had just lent it out to someone else. I'm not an emotional man, but I take no shame in admitting that I couldn't hold back the tears of joy that streamed down my face upon the realization I had once again avoided dancing in public.

Even though we weren't going to perform, Carly and I decided to head to the festival anyway to support our students who had worked all week on the festival. (Note: They literally did nothing all week but practice dancing. No math. No reading. No health. Just dancing...sigh)

As we approached to buy our tickets, we were told that the "talent" didn't have to pay the entrance fee. We regretfully informed the teachers we didn't have any music and would be unable to shimmy for the masses. They preceded to lay arguably the biggest guilt-trip in the history of mankind upon us.

They talked about how much they and the students were looking forward to it. They mentioned a bunch of our neighbors had paid the entry fee to specifically see us prance around. They whined about how this was a fundraiser and we'd be letting down the kids. They actually said the following: "The entire world is here to see you dance."(Another note: This fundraiser was to replace a perfectly serviceable concrete floor with a prettier tile floor. Not money for books. Not money for badly-needed chalk boards. Not money to clean up the river of slime/mosquito breeding ground that runs next to the school. Money for a pretty floor...sigh)

Me and the Mrs. were helpless after having that sort of guilt thrust upon us. We agreed to run home and grab our laptop which also held our music to see it the DJ could somehow use it.

Unfortunately, since we assumed we'd no longer be dancing, we had already returned the traditional Paraguayan garb we needed for the dance earlier in the day. Desperate, Carly grabbed a skirt from the dirty clothes hamper and I threw on my Paraguayan soccer jersey. We might have no longer looked like traditional Paraguayan dancers, but we could still perform like ones. Or so we thought.

Maybe it was the fact we'd already mentally prepared not to dance. Maybe it was the fact we were forced to cut a rug on a 6ft-tall stage the size of card table and twice as wobbly. Maybe it was the fact we downed two 40oz Brahmas earlier in the evening. Whatever the reason, our Danza Paraguaya was a complete disaster and my loathing of dancing was thus reaffirmed.

Both of us completely forgot the choreography about one minute into our performance. We basically just hopped around on stage after that, desperately counting the seconds till we could get the hell out of there. Based on the amount of laughing and finger-pointing however, the audience appeared to enjoy it.

Below you will find a video of our historically awkward performance. Due to poor lighting and the abilities of our 9-year-old camerawoman, the quality is pretty poor-- which isn't necessarily a bad thing in this instance. You've been warned. Watch at your own risk.

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