Monday night found me at the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater, where I was summoning all the courage and swag I could find to walk through the doors and into my first hip hop class in months. I've been thinking about it a lot, and after months of no eight counts, no energy, no hip hop, I was really missing it. It's good for my mental health. I spent a few weeks poking around the internet and decided to just go ahead and try it out. I'm a grown-ass man with a life and excessive graduate degrees, and I will take hip hop if I want to.
I arrived insanely early to the class and just stood there and fretted, leaning against one of those ballet bars and wondering how I had got there. "Hey," I thought. "I'm a lawyer trying to dance, not a dancer trying to...do the law." For some reason this made me feel better, even though at this point, I might be a better dancer than I am a lawyer. I don't know if that's a good thing or what.
Eventually everyone arrived and there were thirty or forty people in the studio, a lot of women of varying types and sizes and a fair number of guys too. I didn't feel as uncomfortable as I feared. As we got started, we did some familiar stretches and then learned a pretty simple combo of four eight-counts. The song was "Pop Champagne," which is deceptively simple but has some deeper stuff you can really get into. I got looser and was really into it, riding the beat a little bit, putting my own touches in it and letting the music determine everything. I forgot how much I loved the positioning of hip hop, the confidence, the swagger. In a strange way I feel like I forgot about that attitude and how much I gain from it, even if I am about as un-hip hop as it comes, based on the exterior.
Anyways, it was a really fun time. I will definitely go back. Near the end of the class, the teacher shut some of the lights and raised the curtains that blocked the studio from the sidewalk outside. Suddenly one side of the room was all glass and the street was right there, with pedestrians walking by and some people already peering inside at us. The teacher split us in half and we took turns dancing on the floor, spread out, with nowhere to hide and plenty of room to move. I was hesitant for a moment, kind of embarrassed and second-guessing my presence there, but the beat was undeniable, and soon I was up there with everybody else, getting lost in the music, rocking the dance face, and oblivious to the world outside the glass, because for those fleeting eight counts none of it mattered.