A few months ago, there was a big milestone at our house – we signed J up for her first dance class! Introductory level for wee ones, held every Saturday morning. My initial reaction was that this was a fantastic idea. It would be some nice mother-daughter bonding time between K and J! Tutus and jazz hands and ballerinas? That stuff is way too foreign to me. I’d limit my involvement to just going to the recitals and taking some pictures.
Sit back and enjoy the show, right?
Yeah, not so much.
Like most things parenting-related, I was wrong.
Well, firstly, I wasn’t actually allowed by the dance studio to take pictures at the recital. Secondly, there was a time conflict. B also had basketball Saturday mornings. As a result, one parent had to take him there, while the other had to take J to her class. Shockingly, no one else thought that it would be best if I took B to hoops all of the time. It was decided that we’d take turns each week, taking the kids to their activities.
I would now have to be………..
A DANCE DAD!
Now, in all honesty, the first few weeks didn’t go too badly. I say this beause K took J, not me. Luckily, however, J did take a liking to the class immediately. The objective set by the instructors was to let the parents in the dance room for a couple of weeks, to get the kids used to the class. Eventually, the parents would not be allowed in the room, and instead would have to watch in the waiting area, through a window. J, bless her heart, was cool going solo in the room after about two weeks. And luckily for me, that meant that I would never have to be the “last parent standing”. You know, that parent who has the kid that is the only one left who freaks out when their mommy or daddy try to leave the room. The parent then has to spend the whole class prancing along to Let it Go with the other toddlers, while the dance moms laugh and snicker at them from behind the window.
Awww, dance moms.
Not gonna lie, hanging out with them is what had me shook the most, initially. I had seen parts of the television show ‘Dance Moms’. Since reality TV is totally like real life, I assumed that there would be lots of yelling, gossiping and mean chick cliques, none of which bode well for yours truly.
Of course, this wasn’t the case at all, and everyone there, from the parents to the instructors, is pretty chill. As one of the only solo dance dads among the dance moms each week, I did feel that I had to formulate a strategy, though, to fit in. Social awkwardness ain’t no joke. I went about my strategizing by observing the other guys that would come to the studio. For example:
– Some used the ‘drop and go’ technique. They dropped their kid off, and came back an hour later, when the class was done. Even though it’s 9:00 AM, I imagine that they’re going for beers. Or not. I have no clue. This wouldn’t work for me, anyway, as J was a bit too young (not quite three years old) to be left by herself, I think.
– Some used the ‘sit and stay’ technique. The waiting area has lots of chairs. As such, some guys preferred to grab a seat and spend some quality time on their phones. I did briefly employ this tactic during the first week that I took J. However, driving home after, when I asked her how she did, she recapped some stuff, but then ended it by saying, sadly, “you missed it.” I swear, as if to really make sure the mood hit home, Dance With My Father by Luther Vandross came on the radio, too. From then on, no more sit and stay. I try to watch as much as possible, through the window. Now, when J does something that she’s really proud of, like throw a scarf in the air and catch it, she’ll look over to me, grinning, like ‘Yo, did you just see that?!’ I’ll grin back to her like ‘Darn right, I saw that! Do ya thang, lil girl!’
– Side note: one guy came to a class a couple of weeks ago, and spent the hour watching videos on his phone, with the volume cranked up. From what I heard, the videos were all of people talking to each other in Japanese, over random hip hop instrumentals. 50 Cent probably never thought the beat to Disco Inferno would end up there. Haha, I bet if you found this guy in da club, bottle full of bub, you’d have 21 QUESTIONS for him, amirite, 50 Cent?
Anyway, the man had a blast watching these videos, laughing uproariously, completely oblivious to the dirty looks everyone was giving him. I now aspire to one day have that guy’s ‘I Don’t Give a F**k’ level.
– Some made the most of their time by chatting up the moms. While this is a great way to kill time/make friends if you’re a talkative individual, I, unfortunately, am not. Also, I did observe one man once say something to a lady (I didn’t hear what), which led to nervous laughter by her, a step back, and awkward silence.
Forget that option. No need to make someone else as uncomfortable as me. You never know who’s packing pepper spray nowadays, too.
Nonetheless, from these observations, I was able to find a groove. I’m that dude, chillin’ at the window, watching the toddlers work it. Mainly keeping to myself.
It’s all good, though, for real.
See, the end of the class is what makes it all worthwhile. That’s when the instructors wave the parents into the room. We all head in, to sit along the walls, and watch whatever routines the kids learned that day. When J sees me, she always cracks a big smile and runs over, to excitedly tell me something. Yo, even I know that these are the moments that are to be appreciated. In a few years, she won’t always be happy to see me, or even care that I’m there watching her. I get that. Until then, it’s nice to feel the love.
The routines that they do are straight jokes, too. Half the time, J is an active participant, bustin’ a move; other times, she just stands there picking her nose, glaring at the parents. Either way, it’s always entertaining, just sitting back and enjoying the show (hey, I was right about that!).
That’s all I got for now. Keep an eye out for the epic conclusion to this two part series. In that part, my journey to becoming an adequate dance dad is completed, but along the way there are dragons, Mortal Kombat-style death fights and drag races.
Or you know, there’s none of that, and I just recap some more stuff that happens at introductory dance classes.