Last year, on March 12, we experienced our last class before COVID-19 shut down businesses around world. Workshops, dance events, and social dances came to an immediate halt. For months, most people stayed at home except for an occasional walk near their homes or for grocery shopping. During this time, I heard of people who had experienced the disease firsthand, either getting it and recovering or who had passed away.

What I Did During the Shut Down

I was in no rush to get back to dancing because I wanted to protect our dance community. During my time in quarantine, I watched Wagner's entire Ring Cycle, created weekly Bingo social nights with our dance community, had surgery for diverticulitis, and started my journey to obtain teaching certification for secondary education by entering my first semester at University of Bridgeport. I was so thankful that I was able to be close to my family and my daughter.

Returning to Dance

In September 2020, we were allowed to resume dancing. We started our classes as solo dancing. With Janice Frank, I was able to create a plan to pre-clean the studio, perform a safe check-in process, teach a compassionate class, and re-clean the studio after class. The first class was so exciting and strange. It was exciting to see everyone, and I was so proud of them for being confident enough to come to the dance studio and thankful that they had enough faith in me to protect them to the best of my abilities. It was also strange because it felt like I had forgotten how to teach. Aside from the awkwardness of using a mask while teaching, I was teaching a solo dance class—which was very different from the prior 20 years of teaching West Coast Swing and Hustle.

Partner Dancing Again

I feel the month of solo dancing classes went well. However, students started to ask me if there was a way that we could start partner dancing again. Based on the research that was available at the time, we were able to come up with a plan: students could decide if they wanted to dance solo, dance with a set partner, or rotate partners. Of course, we would still be doing temperature checks, requiring masks, and using hand sanitizer liberally. In October, we experienced our first class of partnered West Coast Swing. Most people elected to rotate partners, one couple stayed together, and one student decided to dance solo. It was a beautiful moment. 

Dancing Ahead

Since October, we have continued to host our West Coast Swing classes safely. We have had new dancers bravely grace our dance space with their presence. It has been great to be with some of the dance community every week. Now that almost a year has passed since COVID-19 affected our dance lives, I am looking forward to building dance up again. Presently, about 50 percent of the students who are attending have received at least one vaccination. Within the next 2 months, I expect that all the students will be fully vaccinated. This week, the limitations on the number of students will be removed, allowing more dancers to attend. I am hoping that more students will trust me enough to start coming back to dance. Soon—if people continue to cooperate with scientific recommendations—we will be able to have workshops, go to dance events, and enjoy social dancing again. I am looking forward to all the dancing we will be doing.