“I’m sorry, you are moving on to the next steps and I don’t have the ones you just explained,” I said to the retired guy teaching the group dance lesson we’d signed up for.

“Well, just do the best you can.”

“I was, that’s why I asked the question,” and Rick goes into overload.

“I’m sorry this isn’t for me,” I heard myself saying and I was out of there; leaving my wife, Teresa, to dance with the rest of the group. Now I was toast, I was not only a bad dancer, I was an A-hole (again).

Thank God we met Michael Dean.

If you read this space, you know that I am into learning new things. We’ve gone to cooking school in Italy, I’ve learned guitar, played with Rosetta Stone, gone back to college, graduated from a year of Improv school and done most anything else that strikes me as a creative whim. I like to learn. And, until we bought this group dance lesson on Groupon, I’ve been a good student.

So much of learning things comes down to your learning style and matching that with the right teacher and I’d found the wrong one this time. I am a first child, spend three minutes with me and you’ll know that I like to show you how smart I am. Only, there is a disconnect between the part of my brain that hears words and translates them into messages my feet understand. I am dance impaired, no experience, no instinct, and easily embarrassed: that’s a bad combination. And, to make it worse, I thought we were going to learn to dance together. No, we were going to learn to dance in a group. A freaking group!

We line up and trade partners! 

That meant that all these women, none of whom would have been my chosen dance partner (trust me on this one), were going to take turns dancing with me, each offering advice and trying to “teach” me even though they couldn’t do the steps themselves! All very nice people, I am sure, but not what I needed at the moment. In the meantime, my beautiful wife is dancing with their husbands: the lame, the heavy, the hirsute and the odoriferous were all moving up several notches in partner class when Teresa glided over. Of course the lessons came easier to her, she has talent and just enough background in music to understand concepts like rhythm and foot moving.

(For full effect, play this song while you read the rest:)

So, here I was in the parking lot. Embarrassed, feeling like a failure and trying not to act all defensive. I apologized to Teresa (who classily finished the class, joining the partner line with the 2 other single women), I took the blame like a man and went home and got on the internet, Googling “Private Dance Lessons, Orlando.” That’s when we met Michael Dean, one of the best teachers of anything I’ve ever met.

Talk about the right teacher for the right learning style! Michael has been a perfect match. Teaching from his beautiful in-home studio, he has found a way to blend my version of clumsiness with Teresa’s natural grace, his weapons are patience, an easy way to explain things, and humor. He knows just what to say when; he’s positive, kind, and understanding. And; after a half dozen lessons we are actually able to dance together. Since we are able to go at our own rate, we have added a little bit every week to the dance he has created for beginners, something called the “Club Social.” I am over my flight or fight response and I actually look forward to and enjoy our time learning to dance together. It is a joy to dance with such a beautiful and talented partner, and, to my delight, sometimes I get the new steps before she does! (Not too often.)

The biggest take away from the dance class is Michael’s joy. He loves dance and loves to teach, we’ve never come to a lesson and gotten less than 100% from him. He takes delight in our progress and has become more than someone we take lessons from; he has become a friend. About twenty years ago he was in computer programming and answered an ad on an impulse to learn to teach dance. That ad changed his life. He has been a competitive ballroom dancer and teacher since. Dance has moved him across the country to Florida and led him on a career that allows him to Release his Creative Beast every day.

If he can teach a big lunk like me to dance it proves he is a truly gifted teacher and I am so lucky to have saved my parking lot- retreating ass by finding him! It is a joy to meet someone who has followed his passion.

Teresa and I can dance together now and there is nothing I’d rather do.

Here’s a link to Michael’s video of the Club Social:


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