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?