There's a dance in Cleveland on the last Saturday of every month at the Bohemian National Hall. It's really very well attended; it's held in a large ballroom, and the floor is almost always full. (A lot of regular venues in our otherwise very fine state are not quite so well attended, which is such a shame.) Last night was no exception: the room was full to the brim with all ages and skill levels and everyone seemed to be having a fabulous time.
I try to attend the Bohemian dance anytime I am in state, and I've been attending more or less regularly since after my first exchange. Often I have stayed the night in Oberlin with Renata's parents during those weekends. Other times I have crashed on the couches of friends who live in Cleveland. Since David and I started dating in July, I've been able to stay at his place, which is in Lakewood (Lakewood apparently still counts as Cleveland - Cleveland seems to have somehow incorporated a large number of towns that maintain both their individual names and the collective "Cleveland.") What makes this weekend new and different is that David is still in Portland, Oregon, for a dance workshop, so I'm here at his place on my own. Staying here has been fun and a little odd, as was the exchange I had with several friends: "... and where's David?" "In Portland." "Oh, do you need a place to stay?" "Nope!"
I had a fabulous time at the dance last night. The energy in the room seemed unusually high thanks to the band: The Demetrius Steinmetz Band, featuring Eileen Burns as vocalist. The music was as enjoyable to listen to as to dance to, and they played a variety of tempos and a mix of familiar and unfamiliar music. In addition to excellent music, I had a particularly enjoyable range of dances: slow and quick, with friends and with strangers, and with a full range of skill levels from very skilled to just starting out.
One of the dances that particularly stood out was with a brand new dancer from Erie, PA. He's a freshman, and just trying swing out, but he thinks he likes it and wants to pursue it further. What I found particularly notable was that even though he was new to dance, he A) tried wholeheartedly and B) was friendly and cheerful about the entire experience, even when he made a mistake.
I am constantly amazed by how friendly dancers are. Perhaps it comes out of switching partners every dance? You have to be open to meeting new people and willing to want to like them without knowing more about them than that they dance. Naturally not everyone in the dance scene is so friendly, and plenty of scenes are notable for the cliques that have formed within them. I don't want to make dancing out to sound like a fairytale, but I have nonetheless found in my dancing experience that the majority of people who take up dancing do it because they like people and want to have fun and meet other people who like to have fun. It's generally a very friendly crowd.