Five years ago, H1 and I were living on the corner of 34th Street and 1st Avenue in Manhattan. Just up the street, at 34th and Third, was Fred Astaire Dance Studio, and just below that was a no-name 99c pizza counter. And for about six weeks in November and December 2010, H1 and spent every Thursday frequenting both locations. Our wedding was fast approaching, and we had already decided that when it came to the first dance, we had no desire to do "the shuffle". "The shuffle" might be a Kiwi thing. If you're not familiar with it, "the shuffle" is a heads-down, reluctant side-to-side sway that lasts anywhere between 15-30 seconds and is marked by the total awkwardness of watching two people (who just married each other) completely unable to look each other in the eye. Occasionally there's no body contact at all. The groom stands in one place and does his thing and the bride stands in another place and does her thing and the guests look around for the teachers walking around with metre rulers - because this is where the shuffle is learnt, in school socials and balls up and down the country, where teachers wander the dance floor to ensure nobody is dancing too close or having too good a time.
We all know it's one step from dancing to teen pregnancy.
Anyway. There's nothing wrong with "the shuffle" (especially if you're aiming not to get pregnant). But H1 and I wanted something different. Something showier, something a bit more like us. Something that would be worth every penny of the nearly $1000 we would end up spending on learning to dance*.
For nearly $1000 in 2010, we got approximately six weeks of dance lessons, learning a dance specially created by the expert instructors just for us, to our chosen song. We also ended up getting a special edit of that song, cut down to just under two minutes (a kindness on the part of the instructors, who maybe couldn't handle watching us try to get a grip on dancing for longer than that). We got two instructors, who would dance with us separately then put us together and critique us, and we got our family and best friends clapping and cheering for us as we held onto each other and swept our way around a dance floor outside in Hawkes Bay, under a starry sky, one night in December 2010.
Not because we were good, I hasten to add. We weren't good. Nearly $1000 wasn't enough to make us good at dancing. But because they love us, and they love us being in love, and even though we didn't do it well that dance was 100% us, just like we wanted.
Also, probably, alcohol. Almost everybody was a few drinks down.
Our problem is the same problem a lot of couples have (according to our dance instructors). I can't relax and let H1 lead. We're both leaders. We both try to control the movement and the direction and the timing.
You'd think this would bode poorly for marriage, and you know, I can see how it could be a bad thing were I married to anyone else. But we're nearly five years in now, and it works. And sometimes it means we do our own thing for a while (see: living in separate countries for a year and a half) but eventually we always spin our way back together.
Happy nearly-anniversary, H1.
*Yes, welcome to NYC.