Feel the Beat


If a musical beat traveled in a straight line, and two people were locked in an embrace, shuffling back and forth and side to side, how many minutes would it take them to collide with the wall-length mirror in the Arthur Murray Dance Studio, where they are taking lessons? Answer: Roughly 1.5 minutes on every space between a beat—while moving in circles.

So, yes, dance lessons for me—and for Nate—are going smashingly well. So well, that our instructor dedicated about 45 minutes to “identifying the first/strongest beat of the song.” Once we could identify it, then we could begin dancing—and everything else would fall in line—and actually, it did, but we need more practice. I’m guessing the key to dancing—the secret sauce—is identifying the strongest, most definite beat in a song, and then just stepping forward. (Actually, I’m supposed to step back. Nate steps forward—if we’re doing a rumba—or the salsa—or the hustle? We’re doing so much! I forget.)

If we don’t want to make a complete fool of ourselves in the kitchen, where we will probably dance, we will need to get on the beat. So, we’ve been playing a lot of music out loud. A lot of music with definite beats—a lot of reggaetón, which mixes rap, reggae, and salsa/merengue, and what have you. It also doesn’t hurt to throw in a little Phil Collins (“In the Air Tonight”), “Seven Nation Army” (The White Stripes), and “We Will Rock You” (Queen).

I find if I bop my head for a few measures, I can identify the beat. So, when Nate and I next step into the Arthur Murray Dance Studio, the strategy is thusly:

–Get into dancing position.

–Stand there and listen to the music for a while.

–I will bop my head back and forth for some time and maybe tap my foot.

–When I’m confident, I’ll shout, “Go!” and pull Nate towards me, so I can step back with my right foot.

–Then, it’s just a matter of steering clear of the mirror at the front of the room, and we should be fine. Absolutely fine.

We’ve been practicing this in the living room, and so far, the furniture and the television set are still intact. The cat, however, is an expert “sofa whisperer,” and tells us that the couch is absolutely traumatized by our attempts, but we were thinking about getting rid of that couch anyway. I hope the cat can keep a secret. (Something tells me he cannot.)

Your Turn: Are you musically inclined? Can you find the beat of a song?

27 thoughts on “Feel the Beat

  1. I hate dancing/I don’t dance, but finding the beat is no problem for me – I first played bongos, then drums in a band at 16, then guitar, bass, and finally saxophone (the last 15 years with a great teacher learning jazz). And I’m in a little band at age 64, playing bass to ZZ Top and Mountain tunes. Go figure! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Very cool! I do love to dance and listen to all kinds of music–but I can’t play musical instruments or sing. I am thinking about learning how to play the drums, though–that might be fun.


  2. I’m not musically inclined. I was told in grade three by the school music teacher to never sing in public or out loud. My enthusiasm was applauded in grade four in Sunday school, but I was asked to mouth the words.
    I’ve never danced; I lack any sense of rhythm. I wonder if it’s too late to learn to dance…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, no! I don’t think it’s ever too late to learn to dance. People of all ages come to learn dance at the studio where Nate and I go–and some are very good, while others, like us, are just learning, so we don’t feel completely out of step. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I love music and I think I’m pretty rhythmical, but Ken? We used to all play Rock Band, and there wasn’t a single instrument he could play in time with the beat, so we let him sing…eek!! But he’s such a good sport, he’d do whatever we asked and really enjoy himself:-)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love dancing, but am awful at it. The dandiya folk dance I used to do most often is probably more dangerous than the rumba or salsa because it uses sticks to sort of clap hands. I have thwacked many a partner in my time!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Woohoo to a mention of “Seven Nation Army.” That made a subtle comeback in my latest post also. This is all too fun. I hope that mirror doesn’t hurt when you collide with it. It’s great that you and Nate are getting lots of practice at home and you’re finding your groove. I’m not a terrible dancer. I like to think my dancing makes up for my terrible singing, but no. My dancing’s not THAT good. 🙂
    How are your shoes treating you??

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My singing is terrible as well. The mirror has not complained–yet. My shoes are great–they don’t hurt at all, but Nate’s foot has been bothering him, so he’s resting up. Meanwhile, I’m still counting beats. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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