I think I TRIED to be good at sports. But, when I was put in soccer at 4 years old and all I did on the field was cartwheels, pick flowers, and dance, I think my family realized the whole hand-eye coordination/sports thing wasn’t going to work out for me. I would run, skip, and play with everything except for the soccer ball. So, instead, I was put in my first dance class. I traded my cleats & shin guards for tutus, tap shoes, and leotards. Secretly, I wish I could wear an oversized T-shirt and giant hair bow again right now:
Now, 25 years later, I am no better with hand-eye coordination, but I am still finding a way to dance my heart out. I will forever be grateful for dance and the joy it brings me! Read on for more reminiscing on my dance journey…
At age 5, I started dancing in “combination” classes of tap, jazz, and ballet where our recital outfits changed from ballet to tap by exchanging tutus for fringe. Eventually, I got pretty bored of ballet because the music was too slow for my energetic self (some things never change), and instead picked up hip hop. I will never forget my first dance recital with Expressions in Dance: in my hand, a perfect mint green balloon. These early dance days are so funny (and kind of adorable) to reflect on. We were always looking to the side of the stage, behind the curtain, where our dance instructor would be doing the moves for us.
When I was older, I tried softball, but all I wanted to do was make jokes with my friends and sing “We want a batter not a broken ladder,” or “G-O-O-D-E-Y-E, good eye!” I even tried basketball, but I couldn’t seem to put the ball in the hoop (even though the hoop is DOUBLE the size of a basketball… that’s bogus!), so I ended up being a sassy defense player. My fierce competitiveness was an over-compensation for my lack of skills on the court, but I still had fun with it. After many failed try-outs in high school (kickline AND softball), my friends invited me to check out spring track. When they told me all I had to do was run in circles, I figured I could handle that. I started running in circles until I was dizzy and it just so happened that I was really good at it. My fast metabolism made me quite aerodynamic. Soon enough, I was involved in year-round competitions, running everything from 1500m to 2000m steeplechase (my FAVORITE).
Sadly, my success as a track athlete eventually swallowed my dance life and I stopped taking lessons. Yet, dance remained an important part of my life, and I’ve found myself in various dance classes and groups though all my travels. My body craves movement and music… and I just can’t stop my happy feet from moving!
Once I get out on the dance floor, I practically need to be peeled off. In track and cross country, I was often called the “energizer bunny,” and once I start, I truly can’t stop!
For a long time, I didn’t take any dance lessons. I found ways to get out and dance, but nothing too formal. When I moved to South Florida in 2014 for a clinical internship, I was searching for a way to make friends. I had a pair of cowboy boots I had purchased on Long Island and was aching for a reason to put them to use. I figured I was in the south and there HAD TO be some kind of country atmosphere I could dive into. I remember searching for “country bars South Florida” when Round Up Davie popped up. On their site, they advertised LINE DANCE LESSONS and my heart skipped a few beats. YES! I’d have a reason to don my country boots!
I showed up for a lesson on a Wednesday night when DJ Nacho was teaching. That night, I learned to dance to “Timber” and it would be the first of MANY line dances I would learn.
I became pretty obsessed with line dancing and went to Round Up 3x/week for a while. I knew all the bartenders, the regulars, and went into each night knowing I’d walk out of the bar sweaty and smiling from ear to ear.
I had only spent three months in South Florida for my internship, so when I came back to New York, I was surprise to learn that the Nutty Irishman in my HOMETOWN OF FARMINGDALE had WEEKLY country dancing! Thank goodness my mother had visited me in South Florida and I brought her to Round Up. She ended up doing some research back home and discovered the hidden gem. So, I went to country night every Tuesday in New York and met some of my closest friends.
Two of my dancing friends from New York + one friend from Florida went on a LINE DANCING cruise together where we had nightly dance lessons on a Royal Caribbean cruise line.
In 2014, I even had line dancing instruction at my graduation party from Physical Therapy school thanks to LI Classic Country Entertainment.
My heart eventually brought me back to South Florida for work where I continued my line dancing adventures in the Sunshine State. When it came time to move on from my life on vacation, I had a recurring dream where I danced all over my favorite spots in South Florida. Being that my best friend is an incredibly talented videographer, I told her about these dreams… and we decided to make it a reality! In 24 hours, I did my favorite line dance in my FAVORITE spots across South Florida… and we made a video about it!
South Florida Line Dancing Adventure!
I wrote about the adventure on my blog here!
Fast forward to moving to Washington state as a travel physical therapist. When I moved out here, I envisioned country dancing being around every corner! But, it was harder to find than I thought and I found my life consumed by outdoor adventures. I spent my first year in Washington as a travel Physical Therapist and moved from Olympia to Yakima, but never really found a place to line dance. Instead, I picked up salsa dancing lessons and kind of neglected this entire piece of my heart.
Since I decided to stay in Washington, I’ve been reconnecting to my true self and uncovering all my passions. I always think about dancing. Now that my parents are also involved in the line dancing community, they’re in the know with line dancing locations. At some point, my mom stumbled upon a line dancing team in Seattle called the “Boot Boogie Babes” and sent me their Facebook page.
I had moved around Washington state, but hadn’t yet found a line dance community. I started following this dance team thinking, dreaming, that maybe one day I’d be able to dance on stage with them…
In the fall of 2018, I was working hard to rebuild my life. To pick up all the pieces of me, remember who I truly am, and connect to more positive communities.
This is when opportunity struck.
I remember thinking about how much I missed dancing when the Boot Boogie Babes posted about an Audition Boot Camp opportunity in early October 2018. There would be a few dance classes where we’d learn a variety of dances in preparation for auditions for the team! I figured I’d at least attend the classes and meet some new friends to dance with.
I didn’t know how amazing it’d feel to be in the room with other passionate, supportive women.
When DeAnna welcomed us, she stated the mission of DeAnna Lee Dance and her dance organization:
We provide a safe space for women of all ages, sizes, and backgrounds to grow through their love of dance and finding life long friendships along the way!
I had chills. Literal chills. We learned so many awesome dances, and were recorded in small groups so we could later watch ourselves dance. I remember feeling so sheepish in front of the camera until one of the girls told me to just SMILE as I always do and not think too much (thank you, Cassidy). I felt my confidence building and my true self shining through.
The excitement I felt during the boot camp class propelled me to audition for the team. I felt strongly that I would make it onto one of the three teams, and was hoping my passion for dance and positive energy would carry me through the sea of talented women. For the weeks of auditions, I again felt incredibly empowered, inspired, and joyful.
Dancing is where I belong.
I belong on stage, with other women, doing what I love.
Also, the instructions for clothing during the audition process was “bright leggings.” Glad my stock pile of festive pants came in handy!
Auditions Week ONE
Auditions Week TWO
Photobooth with some of my most favorite ladies!
Auditions Week THREE, #MERICA
After four weeks of auditions (interrupted by some snow storms), our teams were announced. DeAnna Lee made the announcement that EVERY WOMAN who had auditioned would have a spot on one of the three teams: The Boot Boogie Babes, Boot Girls, or Boot Chicks!
The inclusivity of this organization and supportive atmosphere is something unparalleled.
I haven’t seen so many women pushing each other to be greater.
I was blessed to be selected onto the Boot Boogie Babes as a rookie for the 2019 season, alongside incredibly talented dancers.
Our new team is announced!
We celebrated St. Patrick’s Day at our first team practice!
All the hair whipping
We love Aaron Crawford! Dancing to his song “Timebomb”!
All the 2019 teams being SILLY!
Follow us! Our first teach dance:
We have an INCREDIBLE year ahead of us. I haven’t yet been to a performance, but my FIRST one will be on Memorial Day Weekend and I can’t wait to be on stage with my pink sparkle top.
Thank you, DeAnna and the entire DeAnna Lee Dance organization for giving us a supportive, safe space to learn and form lasting friendships. I can’t wait wait to see where we all go together!