Tuesday, March 27, 2012


A little over a year ago, I went to a celebration of a friend's music album release (Natalie Plumb). While we celebrated, Fraleigh tried to teach me how to go into a dip. How to bend my knees and keep my back straight as a plank. How to hold my own body weight.

I couldn't figure out how to hold my own body weight while I let the entireity of my body fall towards the floor. Which meant I turned into dead weight. Which means I was dropped a few times. I've never been very good at follow those hands and letting myself fall. Natalie was the queen of falling. She trusted her body to gravity and her partner's hands from Day 1; it is an almost terrifying confidence. Fraleigh has to be ready to catch her. She falls with abandon.

I've always been a bit jealous of this abandon.

Dips cause an adrenaline rush. They are this moment of suspension. You take all that energy from your dance and suddenly stop. You're still. You let your lead's hands and gravity shape a movement you have no control over. It's an adrenaline rush. It's a little like flying but with your feet solidly on the ground.

Last night at a salsa social, Fraleigh spun me into an unfamiliar pattern. I didn't realize I was being dipped until I was right on the edge of it, like a roller coaster about to careen down the first hill. I was halfway into it before I realized: there was no backing out.

I'm not even sure where his hands were or what pulled me back up. I wasn't even aware of how far I had gone until I was nearly standing again. I had gone nearly to the floor. Somehow, caught in an unaware moment, I learned that I had learned to trust.

He spun me out of it and returned to a salsa basic. He was grinning. "You weren't expecting that, were you?" he asked.

I was giddy. "Not at all. But I followed!"

He laughed and nodded. I had followed well. I held myself together and fell.

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