Simple tasks are sometimes the hardest to do

Time slowed as her hair gently brushed against my face. I smelled the briefest of whispers of vanilla as she continued to twirl. I caught her to bring her revolution to a stop. I held her right hand with my left, and cupped my right hand ever so gently on her left shoulders. Just as she laid her left hand on my shoulders for support. We danced and danced …

And tried very hard not to step on each other’s toes. I was learning to dance the rumba.

Back in my previous employment, one of my colleagues then persuaded me to join a rumba dance class. He’s biased, since he could dance the cha cha, salsa, rumba and do ballroom dance (he won regional competitions). So after weeks of his persuasion, I decided to go for one of the rumba classes.

First thing I noted was that there were no “young” male dancers (“young” being relative, of course). The class welcomed any male participants, since they almost always lacked male dance partners (Dating advice? Dance classes typically starved for men. Consider salsa).

Second thing I noted was that I was the only first-timer there. Everyone had already taken classes in some other dance, such as salsa or cha cha. This meant I had a lot of catching up to do, since the instructor moved the pace of the class up.

Third thing I noted was my normal work clothes were really not designed for rumba dancing. While I’m not that buff, my pectorals and biceps and triceps fill out my long sleeved shirt enough to restrict freer movement. And although I have a 29 inch waist, I typically buy pants for 31 or 32 inch, because I have muscular thighs (oh, there goes my modesty…). And even then my pants were still fairly tight. Do you know the kinds of things you have to do with your waist in rumba?

Alright, alright, we’ll get back to my dance partner. Her name’s White Snow, translated directly from Chinese. Her family name’s White. What, you have Barry White and Snow White, but we can’t have White Snow? (that said, is Snow White the entire name? Or is there a family/last name?).

She’s pretty enough. I don’t know if she had a boyfriend. I didn’t ask. (Although everyone back at the office was like, “Hey Vincent, that girl there? What do you think?”) I much prefer Caucasian women.

Inner Critic: Is this really the platform to be telling everyone your dating preference?
Me: It’s my blog. I can do whatever the hashbrown I want.
Inner Critic: Why are you using the word “hashbrown”, which isn’t even a wor…
Me: It’s my flying fishball blog. I can use “hashbrown” whenever the hashbrown I want.

The dance instructor (who’s especially tall. And that’s saying something, since I’m 1.78 metres tall) taught a dance routine. We rotated dance partners as we went. Each lesson, he’d teach a new segment of the routine, and we’d practise it. Then we’d go from the beginning of the routine all the way to the new segment.

There were 10 lessons in all, and typically, the instructor would have taught the entire routine only at the 9th or even 10th lesson. For that particular class, I think he finished it on the 8th (or 7th) lesson. That meant the pace was very fast. He also told me I was quick to learn and catch up. For the first few lessons though, it was all I could do to remember what to do with my feet, let alone what to do with my arms.

Which brings us to the basic moves. At the start of each class, we’d go through some basic moves. They were all on the feet movement. However, your hands must be up in the default position. What’s the default position?

Stand up. Go on, I’ll wait. Hold your arms straight out to your sides, as though you’re a scarecrow. Then bend your arm at the elbow, keeping your upper arm still parallel to the ground. So now your upper arms point out to the side, and your forearms point in front of you. There. Now keep your arms in that position the whole time.

If during the dance, your hands are not either holding on to your partner, or twirling her, or doing some particular dance move, your arms go to that default position.

It’s a very simple position, yet it’s critical, because it makes the dancers look good. You’re supposed to be dancing in high energy, with grace and proper posture. My dancer colleague even told me he had to practise smiling even though he’s heaving from exhaustion. Did you know the male dancer is the one leading the entire dance? The female follows the male’s lead. When the female returns to your embrace from her twirling, you’ve got to catch her and hold her steady. And not fall out of balance (I mimed the *boing boing boing* of me hopping on one leg and my friend laughed).

For rumba, that’s the simple task. Hold your arms up. My arms were ready to drop after the first few lessons. It’s very tiring to keep them up the whole time.

It doesn’t matter what it is. Refactoring some code. Giving a good variable name. Taking the garbage out. Thinking or finding out a good algorithm. Replying “No” to that email.

Just because it’s simple doesn’t mean it’s easy.