Disco Dave

Getting rid of old fears

During the course of my teens and into my college days I was always fearful of going to dances. Just the thought of attending a high school dance was enough to give me an anxiety attack. This lasted through my first marriage. Upon receiving my divorce from my first wife, I decided to confront this long lasting problem.

My first move was to call a local dance studio and inquire about a course of disco lessons. This was the era of the disco and the movie Saturday Night Fever was shot a couple of blocks from the dance studio. I broke out sweating just making the call. However I persevered and arranged for ten private disco lessons. I could have saved some money if I chose to take semi private lessons, however I did not feel comfortable with other dancers in the room. My greatest fear on the dance floor was feeling totally embarrassed if other people were watching me. I fantasized that everybody had his or her eyes on me, and the next thing I knew I would be in a cold sweat. It always went this way. Dance floors horrified me. If I could, I stayed clear of them.

My first couple of lessons were traumatic to say the least, however I got through them and learned the basic steps. Then I started going to dance parties where you could dance with the instructors or other students. Talk about nervousness. I was sweating as soon as I entered the dance party. I was sure that if I got onto the dance floor everyone would immediately stop dancing and focus on me. Obviously that was not the case but common sense was out of the picture at that point. I continued to drag myself to the Friday night parties fearful of each encounter.

Soon my ten private lessons came to an end. However my anxiety did not. You would think that I would be ok after the parties and lessons. Think again – my anxiety was still there. I had to formulate new plans. What was I to do?

My next move was to go out and buy some polyester pants and polyester shirts. Now I needed something else. It took the form of a large oriental silver medallion, which I hung around my neck.

Now I was ready to go. My plan was to visit discos on Friday nights. I would go early before the crowds came and try my luck. Would I chicken out? Soon the first Friday night approached. I made sure that I was the first one at the disco. This way if I failed there were only a handful of other people around to set off another anxiety attack. After one or two drinks I worked up the courage to ask for a dance, got out on the floor, felt the anxiety increase but persevered through the song. This I repeated for approximately one year. Disco after disco, dance after dance, and one anxiety after another.

Finally, after one year, I was able to ask a stranger to dance, get out on the dance floor and not be at all concerned that people had their eyes on me. After one year I felt comfortable dancing and even liked when I saw people watching my partner and myself dance.

So, you ask, why this disco story on a site dedicated to the internal arts like yoga and tai chi? The answer is to start to develop the perseverance and discipline necessary to see you through life’s situations. You don’t have to stick with the hand you were dealt. You do have to play it, and by playing it you free yourself of yourself. Awareness and mindfulness put you in touch with your own true nature. That is who you really are. Just be yourself and ride the wave.