It’s done. I danced.I stopped blogging about the process right around the time deep panic set in.
I fully intended to write every week, at least every other week about how lessons were going, the metaphor of Chacha, but I hit the psychologicalice about four weeks before the event and careened out of control, afraid I’d never remember all the steps, that I wouldn’tbe strong enough to hold that aerial swan-dive posture long enough to keep the big dirty dancing lift from becoming a pile of mortified human rubble.
I guess I suspected there was a limit to how amusing insecurity could be.
Michael forged on, thank God, adding splashy little moves and a big finish split, and constantly reassuring me – we got this, you can do it, just keep your lats down…
Then came The Dress.
As a life-long performer I know the power of costume, the show-biz manifestation of that Big Book truism “fake it til you make it,” the magic of an actor finding the visceral truth of a characterfrom within the folds of his first act trench coat or in theclick of her pointy-toed stilettos. For a thousand reasons we can’t consciously fathom we intuitively become more like what we design ourselves to appear to be, like when SAT scores go up when students wear a coat and tie to the testing.
In other words, it really is All About The Dress.
Unfortunately, I’d waited until kind of late in the game to find a dress to rent, and a lot of the more obvious numbers had been reserved already when I made my requests at Rhythmic Rentals. Basically, there were two options: a short red Latin dance dress, saucy but fairly modest, or an outrageous hot-pink fringe disco-queen-on-a-sex-binge thing that showed waaaay more thigh than I’d revealed since my toddler-on-the-beach days.
I was certain the hot pink was over the top, but I ordered it for a Try On along with the red just so I didn’t have all my eggs in one basket. Big mistake.
At home, the consensus was unequivocal: I needed to wear the red.
The look on my ten-year-old daughter’s face when I came downstairs in the pink fringe will haunt me forever. Horrified shock mixed with the kind of bewilderment that comes from having a rock solid friend suddenly turn on you: Who are you and what have you done with my mother?
But before I made a final decision I needed to dance in both of them, so I took them to rehearsal, where – disturbingly – every dancer, instructor and casual observer in the studio all agreed that it had to be the hot pink fringe.
“Self-conscious” can’t even touch the state of mind that gripped me in this dress. And my DAD was going to be in the audience for crying out loud.
But here’s how it went: Michael rehearsed with me every day but one the week of the event, and with every lesson a little of my panic faded. My brain stopped micro-managing every move and my body started taking over, exploring the little details of our Chacha and looking forward to the tricky moves…in short, I started DANCING.
And dancing (who knew?) is FUN!
There’s an SNL sketch in my first-ever spray-tan experience (picture me, naked, standing in the spray tan machine…backward) and in the dark-orange-skinned-fake-eyelashed-Tom-Jones-inspired version of me that so traumatizes my husband that he may never be able to have sex with me again, but somehow the moment arrives for Michael and me to take the stage.
I’m nervous as a cat, but the spotlight is on and that is my drug of choice, so when the first notes of “Sexbomb” come blasting through the ballroom, I leave my brain in the wings and let my body have the show. The air-conditioning is broken, the audience is hot and rowdy and  they respond to every spin and flip with audible gasps and appreciative hoots. When we hit the big dirty dancing lift – and NAIL IT – it’s an extended moment of pure, sweaty Chacha bliss.
By the time we land the final split, I know I’ve missed a couple of steps somewhere along the way, but I don’t even care. I’ve been smiling from the tips of my spikedhighlights to my steel-shank-reinforced-toes the whole time and I feel an exhilarated satisfaction like nothing I’ve ever experienced.
And that was BEFORE we got three perfect tens, winning us the Judges’ Choice award and BEFORE learning that with this event we had collectively  raised Safe Haven Homeless Family Shelter over $200,000.00, breaking the record of all previous years.
The highlight of the night, however, was watching my mom and dad jitterbug like teenagers to “Old Time Rock N Roll” during the all-night open-floor dance celebration at the end of the evening. They first met each other and fell in love taking the same dance class at Florida State, so you could say I wouldn’t even exist without the dance. I’m starting to figure that out.