Dancing to Remember

When I was younger I used to go out dancing a lot, but it’s been a long time.  In the past five years I’ve probably been twice.  I do still enjoy dancing; it’s just that it generally happens out in the world when I’d rather be sleeping.  Last night I went to a friend’s 60th birthday party, a lovely private catered benefit event with about 50 attendees.  In addition to the great grub and DJs, She arranged for a line dancing instructor.

He was an excellent teacher, breaking down the steps into manageable chunks and building up to the whole dance, reworking the parts we had trouble with – he had a great command of and rapport with the room, and by the end of the night we had learned two different dances.  Our big moment came when the DJs rolled our two songs back to back and we did both dances in succession.  Impressive, if for no other reason than one turned us around on a clockwise pattern, while the other went counter-clockwise!

Both of the dances happened on an 8 count, but for the life of me I can only vaguely remember one of the songs – its lyrics featured whiskey and cigarettes.  Surprisingly, it was not country, nor was the other song.  For some reason I tend to associate line dancing with country music.  I do suspect my graceful exit, just before the final lesson – two-stepping – commenced, saved me from the steel guitars and twangs.

Of course all you really need to hear from a song to dance is the beat, and that’s all I remember from the music.  But I’ve just gone over the dance steps and I do remember both of them just fine.  I’ve been practicing a movement based art for a long time now, and I know that my dancing, however infrequent, is buoyed by that practice.  I’m wondering if, like my karate has assisted my memory for moves in general, my violin playing will improve my memory for tunes in general.  I do know that as my beginner violin songs get longer and longer, I’m starting to latch on to patterns in the songs, Teacher calls them phrases, to remember them better.

A theme I keep returning to about memory is that engaging multiple sensory channels while learning enhances our storage capabilities.  Dancing while listening to the instructor and trying to learn blends kinesthetic learning with aural learning.  But if I wanted to learn the songs in addition to the dances, I needed to be singing too.  Maybe next time.

Thanks for reading.


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