I haven’t been dancing as regularly as I’d like, and haven’t been social dancing in a few months. This is partly due to a knee injury I am trying to sort out. But I couldn’t stand it anymore. I was missing dance, especially zouk, for so long. So the other night, I finally went back to our weekly zouk social.
As soon as I walked in and heard the music, my body did this kind of ahhhh like release. As if it was just waiting for me to get back, and now it could be free to be happy again. It’s kind of crazy how dance can have that affect on you. Zouk music- even the mixes that aren’t authentic zouk but carry that beat, make me feel that beat inside me. It enlivens something from within that only other dancers could understand.
I put on my purple SwayD boots and was a little saddened to see how worn they are getting- particularly the strap that allows me to tighten the boots. I have small feet, so I usually have to stretch the strap enough to get to one of the very first holes on it.
I love those boots, and have gotten so used to wearing them that I often don’t feel comfortable wearing anything else. I hope these still last me a long time, I thought. Don’t give out on me now, when I’m finally getting back to dancing, I prayed to the boots. I need you!
It was heavenly dancing again. My first couple of dances made my come back to dance feel so good. So comfortable, and as if that was exactly where I was meant to be. I wondered how I lasted this long without zouk it. But I was there now, and wanted to make the most of every moment. Of every movement. Of every pause and breath.
I felt like I could feel it all more acutely now that I’d been away. I felt more aware of my body- whether it was opening up enough or stepping too big or on the balls of my feet. And the awareness felt extraordinary. I wasn’t thinking. I was feeling. And all the feelings were heightened more than I remember in the past. This must be what it’s like to come back to something you love. I never want to leave it again, I thought.
But I also made a mental note that if I ever do feel stuck in my growth of dance, taking a break might be a good way for me to renew my passion and perception towards it. How interesting that this break that I almost felt forced to make, this time around, actually seemed beneficial.
I was having a great time but I could feel that my knee was a little more tender and weak than the other, so I didn’t want to overdo it and push it too much. At a certain point, I decided to call it a night and be satisfied with this first attempt at getting back into dance. It had been a good start.
So I took off my purple dance boots and went to say bye to a few people. As I was going to leave, a good song came on. And I could see one of the guys who I had been having great dances with that night coming towards me. At first, we were just saying goodbye but then when he realized I loved the song, and was tempted to dance again, we started moving on the floor, me in my bare feet and he in his shoes. I tried for a few seconds to go with it, but I could feel my feet not connecting well with the floor. Either getting stuck, or being afraid of being stepped on or injuring my knee more without support.
So I told the lead I was dancing with I would just quickly put on my dance shoes. But as I tried to boot the dance boots on, it felt like such a struggle with the worn out straps and all. I remembered that I also had these little dance slippers in my bag. So I put them on instead as they would be so much quicker to get on and off.
But after just a few steps, I could feel my balance was so off, I felt so disconnected, and I couldn’t seem to use the floor well enough. My feet also felt so strained in the slippers, so different from the space and stretch from the dance boots I had gotten so used to over the last couple of years.
I fumbled through two songs with the slippers. And kept apologizing to my dance partner. Every time we were about to connect, and the movement got better and bigger, I felt like I was ruining the dance. I wasn’t holding my own weight and no matter how much I tightened my core, and kept my steps small, the different feeling in my feet from having different shoes on just made all my movements feel so stuck.
I got frustrated, pushing myself to just get it together. I thought it was working until the guy dancing with me spun me. It was a simple spin that we had done several times earlier in the night in other dances. But this time, it was so messy. I couldn’t get my feet to stay tight and I ended up getting so far from my partner. If I had gotten any farther, he would have had to move closer to me to catch me.
I looked down at my feet and wondered what had happened. How was it that only minutes before, I had had about three or four intricate and connected dances with this same guy earlier, and now, I just felt like I had never danced before? Like I was an awkward beginner. Disconnected from myself and my partner. I was so embarrassed. He tried to make me feel better, but I ended up sitting down after our last dance, wishing I had just ended the night when I had originally said I would. Wishing I could erase those last couple of dances.
Then I looked at my dance boots again. It amazed me how much of a difference being in a comfortable pair of shoes, shoes that my feet had gotten so used to, made. I couldn’t figure out whether this was a case of me just needing to get used to a new pair of shoes, or whether the dance slippers were something I should never try again. But they weren’t new. I didn’t have to break them in. And they weren’t heels that I needed to balance myself carefully on. They were just new to my feet now.
Why didn’t I buy more of those SwayD boots, as soon as I realized how comfortable they felt and how well I could dance with them soon after I bought my first pair? Now I wish I had bought at least another couple of pairs. I have gone out to dance festivals where a SwayD representative was selling shoes their shoes. But they no longer had the boots in my size, and the other boots didn’t seem to fit as comfortably.
It’s crazy what a difference a pair of dance shoes can make. Imagine if I had started the night in my dance slippers. I would have thought that I had completely lost my dancing touch, from being away from dance for so many months.
How is it that others can dance, and dance just as well, in any kind of shoes anywhere? Whether in street shoes, boots, high heels, runners, sandals, and even bare feet. I’ve even seen people pull off dancing on pavement or carpet really well? What’s the secret?
Obviously, it’s not just about the shoes. How you hold your core, and use proper technique and push off the floor is important. But shoes seem to make a lot of difference for me. I would like to hear other people’s views on how they go about choosing dance shoes, and if they also have had this experience of not being able to get used to another type of dance shoe after they’ve been wearing one type for so long. What is your approach to choosing footwear when facing some kind of injury or health issue that makes foot care more of a concern?