Wednesday, September 19, 2012

In which I suck.

Today I found out that I suck at dancing burlesque. Yet another form of dancing that is off my list. (That is pretty much all of them, by the way. I suck at them all, and I have tried many. Oh I have always wanted to dance beautifully, but my body has other ideas. My brain is graceful. My body? Nope.)

I might be a little unfair with myself on this. I think that I may have unknowingly put myself in a position in which I was guaranteed to suck. Here's the deal:

I signed up for a Burlesque class at the gym. It seemed like a good idea at the time, and based on prior gym experiences, I figured it would be sort of a Zumba aerobics class kind of thing, where you incorporate some old skool Dita Von Teese burlesque moves into a workout routine. ( I sucked at that, too, but mildly, so I didn't beat myself up about it.) Or maybe it would be like the belly dance class I took, where over 2 months we slowly built up a routine and I really did learn some fun belly dance moves and had a great time learning a classically beautiful form of dance, in a fun supportive atmosphere. I can dance if you give me time to figure it out and train my body to do the moves. I CAN, I really CAN.

Yeah, no. Not this time. This was a full on DANCE class, like for a Christina Aguilera style video. Very fast, very frenetic. Not at all what I was expecting. No Dita Von Teese in sight, anywhere. No fans, no feathers, just sweat and confusion.  Like, you learn the routine with the (very gay, fabulous and funny) dance instructors speaking dancer, where they go "Bah boom PAH boom boom DAH, foot and BEND, and TURN", and you move to their beats. You are supposed to catch on to a complex sequence of movements after 2 quick demonstrations. There were actual dancers in that class, you could tell, they were pirouetting and step-ball-changing their asses off. Real dancers, not just gym people.

Ever seen "So You Think You Can Dance"? You know when they send the auditioning dancers they are unsure of to choreography and they have half an hour to learn a routine for a dance style they have never done before? And Mia Michaels talks all dancer-y and yells at them and they just get it and do it? THIS CLASS WAS LIKE THAT. And I just could not do it.  (So I Think I Can't Dance.)

How much of not a dancer am I? Here's a short list.

  • When I was 6 years old I was kicked out of ballet class by the Russian ballet teacher my mom paid a lot of money for me to see. She said I had no talent and I was a waste of her time.
  • I was also kicked out of the concurrent tap class, same teacher, same reason. (I hated tap, it was no loss.)
  • In college, to make up a credit I was missing in order to graduate, I took a modern dance class thinking it would be an easy way for me to get the credit and not use my brain so much. Boy was *I* wrong on that. That class was EXCRUCIATING. We ran and jumped and I had to wear uncomfortable tight things so the teacher could see our 'form' (this was the 80's, I didn't do tight) and my lycra-clad ass could not do the running splits and jumps and graceful falls and whatever the fucks we were expected to do. I was in tears whenever I had to go to the fucking class, in a hot old un-airconditioned gym in Austin, Texas. In summer. It was 100F in there, all the time. It was death. I hated it. I finally went to the teacher and begged to be able to just write a paper about Martha Graham instead of having to do the fucking dancing, since I was an English major and writing was what I did.. He agreed, and I wrote him the best damn paper he had ever SEEN on modern dance in America, and he gave me a passing grade in the class. 
  • In aerobics class, I am that girl who falls off the step, who goes the wrong way and who can never manage the turns and the cross over step kicks, confusing everyone around her. My friend Margaret B will attest to this. She was back in the back of the class with me, doing the same thing. God I miss her, a friend you fall off a step with is a friend for life.
So imagine me in this burlesque class, with the wonderful, lovely gay teachers speaking Norwegian (apparently I understand burlesque på norsk)(ass is rumpe), and we're doing all the bending over and pirouetting (which makes me dizzy) and sexy arm things and leg extensions and whatever the fuck all that shit is called, to the blaring sounds of Christina Fucking Aguilara singing "Burlesque". And that song plays over and over and over and I really, truly am doing my best to get it but the room is crowded and hot, I can't see the teacher, we are going too fast and HELLO I AM IN MY 40'S AND I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT IS GOING ON. (I hate that song, now, btw.)

I determinedly spun and pirouetted and shook and shimmied and booty popped (the one thing I really truly could do) but I was always at least a half beat behind everyone else and generally facing the wrong way. I always under spin or over spin or spin the wrong way. (I hate spinning. No more spinning for me. I am done with that shit.) I wanted to be all, "Well, white girls can't dance", but of course, everyone else in the class was whiter than me, being all blonde and Viking and shit, so I didn't even have that excuse. Shit. There was a squatty sort of leg spready move that I managed to do ok, finally, when I realized that when Xtina shrieked "SEX" in the song, I was to do that move right when she shrieked. So I copped my squat and spread 'em. (I only fell once.)

I was terrible. Maybe, if I had a one on one with the teachers, for, like, a week, I could've done it. MAYBE. But in an hour? No fucking way. 

I came out of that class with a HUGE grin on my face, because, honestly, you have to acknowledge when you suck that bad. I was giddy with suck. I embraced my inner suck. I laughed all the way home, goofy smile on my face, actually, because I sucked so hard that I am like, the Queen of Suck. Nobody is better at sucking than me. (Um, you know what I mean....)


  1. Karla,

    This is hilarious. I’m sure the lovely Norwegian speaking gay teachers loved you, not in spite of your burlesque dancing suckiness, but rather because you’ve embraced it. It always helps to have a good attitude when we discover the things we suck at. (Or is it, 'the things at which we suck?')

  2. I would be too embarrassed to try, therefore I would suck more so. Embrace my suckiness? No, I just run away.


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