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Fergus: The excellent adventures of a student supporter (SSP) – Chapter 9

Let’s call him Fergus (not his real name.)

Fergus is a man who leads very nicely. On the dance floor, he likes to wear an expression that says, “I’m thinking important things.” Sometimes, he looks amused. A royal kind of Fergus-amusement at nothing-in-particular.

Fergus-faces have the most peculiar effect on you, his follower. When you can’t interpret them you go for the “I’m-not-good-enough” cards: the “He doesn’t like me”, “I’m hopeless”, “I’m the wrong age”, “I’m not the right shape,” and the “I never COULD do this step” cards. If you’re feeling particularly sensitive, you might even bring out the “God, am I wearing deodorant?” and the “My hands are very sweaty” cards.

You tell Fergus something you hope is appropriate.

He comes back with something clever. Unrelated to the thing you mentioned.

You blush. Go back to your “I’m-not-good-enough” cards. Struggle a bit. Then you bundle the cards back into their box and make your face deadpan (just the way Fergus is doing). A moment later you decide to ignore the opinion he has of you. You listen to the music. You FEEL the leading-following exercise you’re supposed to be working on together. (Yes, you do.) (And you’re proud of yourself.)

In another part of your brain to the one where your “I’m-not-good-enough” cards are stored, you realise something. Fergus is moving through this sequence rather beautifully. The steps are not something you’ve ever done before, and you’ve certainly never done them quite like this. But you’d like to. Very much.

You pay attention to what Fergus is doing and how he’s doing it and because it’s so very nifty, you explore all its colours with him. When he includes a variation, you follow. “This is amazeballs,” you think.

Sometime during the next few minutes you ditch your deadpan expression and start smiling like a cherub. When the music stops, you think, “To hell with it.” You look at Fergus and you say, “Wow! Just wow! That was so much fun!”

Because it was.

And then you realise something else: Fergus isn’t deadpan anymore. In fact, he’s smiling as much as you are (maybe even more). And then he says, ”Hell yeah! We nailed it!”

You give one another a HUGE high five. As the instructor calls, “Change partners,” you can’t quite decide whether it was your own dancing, the partnership, or Fergus’s obvious delight that pleased you the most. You decide it doesn’t matter.

You go back to your box of “I’m-not-good-enough” cards. You lock it.

And you throw away the key.


Linda Brucesmith is a writer and public relations consultant based in Brisbane. She managed Rio Rhythmics’ marketing from 2003-2008 and has danced with the Academy ever since.

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