I believe in the importance of participating at least occasionally in events in which you get to be the minority in some way. I think it’s a great way to learn more about others as well as an opportunity to reflect on what defines yourself. I think it’s so valuable to learn how to be comfortable with discomfort, so to speak, and learn to find common ground when it’s not immediately obvious that common ground exists.
That said, last night Chris and I went dancing at the local senior center. I don’t want to romanticize the experience by saying that we had absolutely nothing in common with the people there and that it was really hard to converse and enjoy ourselves; on the contrary, we found it quite easy to have a good time and talk with some of the seniors from our local community. We were definitely in the minority though, as we were the only people there under the age of at least 55, maybe even 65.
We had been meaning to go for some time now; my friend’s mom had mentioned that her mother (friend’s grandmother) went dancing with her boyfriend often and that there was live music. Chris and I love swing dancing and used to go often in Ft. Worth. We’ve been a couple times to a place in downtown Dallas, but it’s kind of far and goes late into the night, and during the school year, I rarely feel up to going. Dancing at the senior center, about 2 minutes from our house, live music (instead of dj-ed, like it is downtown), early evening, for only 5 bucks, all was pretty appealing.
We had the best time! Quite a few people came up to talk to us throughout the evening, probably largely due to curiosity, but we enjoyed talking with them. They complimented us on our dancing, teased us about our age, showed us some of the basic steps to dances we didn’t know, and one couple asked us to show them how to do savoy kicks. We met a man who, we found out, lives down the street from us. He was telling someone that we live on his street and added with a smile, “Yeah, the neighborhood’s goin’ to pot!”
The lady who is in charge of the senior center introduced herself pretty soon after our arrival and took good care of us thoughout the evening. She said if anyone gave us a hard time (about our age), we should tell them to mind their own business. When we didn’t come forward at the request for first-time visitors to come to the front of the room, she hunted us down to give us our free passes to use the next time we come. At her encouragement, I had the pleasure of joining in the waterfall dance, which is when the ladies stand in a line and the men take turns dancing once around the floor with the next lady in line. Since there were already more women than men, I had planned to hang back and watch, but after explaining the dance to me, she said, “You should go and get in line up there. It would give you a chance to dance with some of the other men. Go on now, get in line!” I hadn’t wanted to steal anyone’s thunder, but it was so fun to dance with a couple of gentlemen who have been dancing, I imagine, for quite some time!
Between the four-piece band, the dancing, the 30-minute cookie break, and most of all, the good company, we had a great time. I’m looking forward to going back again some time soon and maybe even building relationships with some of the great people in our neighborhood whom I never would have met otherwise. I know my interests are sometimes super nerdy, but the whole experience makes me glad that some of my taste in music and dancing provides a common interest to share with senior citizens. And let’s face it, I could also use the exercise ;0)