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Let there be joy

Posted by Dora

Summer is here, and it’s time to dance. Well, for me, just about any time of the year is a good time for dancing, but there’s something about the freedom and carefree spirit of summer that just brings me joy.

I first started dancing at age four. Being the first child, my parents didn’t know quite what to do with me, and so enrolled me in all types of classes. From what my mother tells me, I started out with ballet and tap classes before kindergarten. I hardly believed her until I found a pair of miniature tap shoes and ballet slippers in an old box cleaning out a closet years ago. However gifted or klutzy I may have been, however, my parents decided that piano lessons would be more beneficial in the long run, and that was what stuck.

I was reintroduced to dance in junior high school by a friend who had lots of cool moves. I remember one set of Egyptian arm moves that we would do to all the New Wave music we listened to back then. It mattered little that the boys were awkward, as long as they joined in circle of dance. In my teenage zeal, I ended up giving Book of Mormons (complete with their names printed in gold leaf on the cover) to my two best friends, and even though I don’t think they ever read it, I hope they harbor fond memories of the church youth dances that we went to.

I took dance classes throughout high school and college … whatever I could squeeze into my schedule. Modern. Jazz. Tap. Ballet. Social dance. Honestly, I wasn’t particularly good at any of them, but it was a fabulous way to keep fit and have a creative outlet.

And then it happened. I got hooked on swing …

JS and AH were friends from the Institute. They’d started taking private lessons in both swing and salsa. And they wanted to share the wealth. So it was that they gathered a small group of people at the Institute every Saturdays to show us what they’d learned that week. It was an intoxicating time of learning and camaraderie. It felt great to be dancing again, to have a creative outlet, and a concrete way to connect with other people. Plus, it was extremely therapeutic, at a time when I was very stressed. When Saturdays petered out as JS and AH got involved, and later married (other people), I knew that I had to find a way to continue dancing.

So, I started going out salsa and swing dancing on my own. I started at The Mayan for salsa and The Derby for swing. Yes, it was a little intimidating going out on my own, but I just joined the pre-dance lessons, met people, made friends, and became part of the community. After a couple of months, I decided to concentrate on swing, and have been loving it for the past nine years!

Nowadays I go out dancing about once a week. And I just love it. Lindy-hop and west coast swing are just structured enough to provide a firm foundation, but loose enough to allow for lots of improvisation and creativity within the music. And I still enjoy the exercise and opportunity to connect and create with others on a one to one basis. I’ve also had the opportunity to share my obsession with others, teaching a friend here, or a small group there. It’s the least I can do after all that JS, AH, and countless dance friends did for me. And everywhere I travel, I try to find a place to go dancing, to meet local dancers and get the feel of how the dance varies by location … I’ve savored the delights of dancing with some marvelous people in SLC, Denver, Las Vegas, Boston and Paris.

So, what about you? What are the hobbies that bring you joy? How has your involvement with them changed over time? How have you, or will you, share it with others?


Dora is a pediatric critical care nurse. Therapy to alleviate the stress in her professional life include traveling around the world, reading, partner dancing and hosting dinner parties.

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  1. FoxyJ says:

    I actually get a lot of joy from cooking. I’ve cooked for years, starting when I was about 8 or so with simple recipes. I actually feel somewhat self-conscious about this at times, because I’ve been in circles where women who cook for others are looked at as opressed or something. On my mission when I made cinnamon rolls to share with my district, I really was doing it out of the joy I get from sharing good food from others. This weekend my husband graduated and I spent a lot of time cooking for family that was visiting, and I got immense satisfaction from watching everyone eat up all the yummy food.

  2. amelia says:

    well swing dancing is one of my new hobbies that i love. there’s just so much energy and life in it. and it’s such a wonderful, social, happy escape from the stress of daily life. looking forward to a little tonight (see you there!).

    the other new hobby i’ve decided to take up is bookmaking. because when i made that little book for j(wh) last week, it felt so good to create something. and i love books and small blank books, so making them is even better. looking forward to sharing this one with girlfriends in a couple of weeks, even if my knowledge is somewhat limited…

  3. Caroline says:

    I feel like a dud. I have almost no hobbies! I wish I had something like dance in my life, but such things seem impossible with the Beast around.

    But someday…. I’d like to learn more about gardening and cooking. I’d love to have some physical outlet – maybe playing volleyball or hiking. I also would love to have some artistic hobby. The possibilities are endless. Maybe someday!

    I enjoyed your reflections on dance, Dora.

  4. JohnW says:

    +1 Swing Dancing

    Of course, Dora is the reason I started. And I’m proud to say I’ve danced with both Amelia and a Beast-less Caroline (no reason not to keep coming!!!).

  5. Caroline says:

    I hope to again, john. It was so much fun! But it kind of sucks that it would have to be a solo hobby – Mike’s not interested.

  6. Kiri Close says:

    My #1 fave hobby: I LIKE TO CUSS.

    Nah, jes messin’ witcha.

    TOP 11: Here’s what I like A LOT, and in no particular order:

    1. Travel
    2. Writing
    3. Reading
    4. Languages (by immersion first)
    5. Dance
    6. Swimming
    7. High Art
    8. Arts & Crafts
    9. Music: Sing, Mess on Piano
    10. Think, Daydream
    11. Lately, camp on weblogs and facebook ;o)

  7. JohnW says:

    Oh Caroline. If you have enough fun doing it, he’ll come. Just use my line:

    “I’m going to go dance with 50 beautiful women.”

    Er, you might want to gender-correct that. Or not. I don’t know how you and Mike roll.

  8. Dora says:

    FoxyJ ~ Someday I hope to be at the point where cooking brings me joy. For right now, cooking is merely the vehicle that gets people together, which is what really brings me joy!

    Amelia ~ I’m so glad that you’ve started dancing … after all, you were there on the first night I ever did swing! And I’m really looking forward to learning how to make a little book … I loved reading your blogpost, and am thinking of who I can gift a littl book to!

    Caroline ~ you may not have a concrete recreational hobby, but you are passionate about so many things, and your actions are the fruit of that passion.

    JohnW ~ I doubt either of us had any idea that you would become such a dancingg demon. I love that you love it so much, and that you are spreading your passion for it.

    Kiri ~ What a fabulous list. It resonated with me.

  9. Caroline says:

    Ha! I wish that line would work. But Mike doesn’t have a jealous bone in his body. It’s kind of unnatural. 🙂

  10. JohnW says:

    Dora: I remember you saying, “I think dancing seven days a week is a bit much,” and thinking, “Well of course it is.” Then a few months later, I found myself dancing seven days a week, thinking, “Dora was right, this is a bit much.”

    Caroline: How about, “JohnW’s such a great dancer. And he’s so handsome. And manly. That Amelia’s a lucky gal. Did I mention what an amazing dancer he is? *sigh*”

    Oh sorry, what were we talking about?

  11. Kiri Close says:

    #12 Watching Fanny Pack on America’s Best Dance Crew.

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