Social dance is something I never in a million years would have expected myself to love doing. Social dance includes swing, waltz, polka, salsa, tango, and lots more that you probably have never heard of (like the schottische, my personal favorite!).
Social dance is popular here at Stanford, partially because we have Richard Powers, the best social dance teacher. Several friends encouraged me to take the Social Dance 1 class, and I finally did sophomore year. I was soon sad that I had started earlier, because it is so much fun! I proceeded to then take Social Dance 2 and 3, and I now know a wide variety of dances and variations. Some of my favorites are cross-step and rotaty waltz, redowa (a leaping waltz), the schottische (a running, polka-pivot dance that's rather exhausting but super fun), polka (especially the Bohemian National Polka and Kerry Polka Sets, two choreographed dances), and salsa (even though I still can't get Latin hips right, haha).
Social dance has actually taught me some important lessons in trust and "welcoming chance intrusions." As a girl, I have the traditional follow role, which means that I am trusting the lead I am dancing with to steer and not run me into other people and to catch me after a variation. The hardest part about this for me was simply not knowing what would happen next, which took a bit of time for me to get over. We learn the basic steps of a dance, we learn some variations, and then we just dance. The lead can lead a variation (or not), and initially I had a hard time accepting the uncertainty of it all. And then there is the element of "welcoming chance intrustions." This is actually something very applicable to my entire life! Basically, sometimes the lead will attempt to lead a variation, and maybe I'll misinterpret it, or maybe the lead is making up a new one - either way, sometimes things just don't quite go as expected, and we learn not just to deal with it, but to welcome it! I have a hard time in general with change and not knowing what's going on, so I generally do not welcome chance intrusions in anything. This is something that I have gotten much better at through my dancing, and then in my life. I have learned to go with the flow more and not worry so much about having every little thing planned out.
Outside of the Social Dance classes, there are numerous social dance events, like the monthly Jammix and the annual Viennese Ball, which I have attended and will continue to do so! I have met some great people through the social dance community, and I anticipate it will be part of my life for many years to come!
Left: Me before Viennese Ball, February 2012