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The Antelope

The Antelope

Swing dancing helped me regain confidence on the dance floor 



In high school, I was a 5’10” single nerd with the grace of a baby giraffe. It wasn’t until college when I began to see myself differently. 

My freshman roommate and I heard word on the street that a student group was holding swing dancing lessons in Harmon Park. We braved the walk together, still wearing our dresses from church that Sunday morning. 

I hugged the wall with anxiety creeping in that no guy would “pick me” or “choose me” to dance with.

To my surprise, the leader confidently reached out his hand to me. Despite being shorter than me, he pulled me onto the dance floor. I was all elbows and knees at first, but he didn’t care. 

He didn’t think twice about the height difference. Josh offered to dip me or even flip me at my first swing dancing session, but those moves seemed too advanced for a tall, klutz in a sundress. 

I kept coming back to Loper Swing Dancing on Tuesdays.

I developed friendships with the upperclassman on the sidelines. Those women built me up instantly and became my lifelong friends. 

One of the regulars was also named Grace. To differentiate, the dancers would call me “Tall Grace.” But I embraced the nickname, instead of feeling insecure.

Eventually, I stopped resisting the jerky movements, and I let my arms go limp like a rag doll. I studied the signals, so I knew when to confidently fall or lean into the other dancer’s arms. For Christmas, I asked for flannels, cowgirl boots and a belt. 

Instead of standing awkwardly on the sidelines, I strutted confidently onto the dance floor to teach others how to replicate the moves. Swing dancing taught me how to hang out with guys as friends. We were all just a bunch of country dancers who wanted dancing partners, not relationships. 

I wasn’t looking for a soulmate, yet I felt more feminine in jeans and a flannel than I had ever felt before. I no longer cared that I had never had a boyfriend, because on the dance floor, I was confident in my beauty and strength. 

I’d be lying if I said swing dancing didn’t eventually lead to dates, but that was not my original intention. 

I overcame my growth spurts, and I gained control of my body movements. As a student athlete in high school, I was still known for tripping on the court. But soon, my hips and my boots were gliding across the floor of Joe’s Honky Tonk with great coordination. 

After two years, I was the one reaching my arm out to scared freshmen. I stood at the front of line dances, knowing the others behind me were trying to replicate my steps. 

When my friends graduated, our swing dancing club dissipated. But I was left with lifelong friends, a skill to flex at weddings, an improved image of myself and a newfound confidence.

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