I Wanted to Be a Solid Gold Dancer (And What It Taught Me)

When I was a little girl, I wanted nothing more than to be a Solid Gold Dancer. Remember the show Solid Gold ’79 (and the other episode years)? I couldn’t wait until the weekend when the show would air. Artists with the latest radio hits would be special guests, singing their songs. But the dancers–oh those dancers–I thought they were amazing! They had the best costumes, the best moves, and the best job. Yes, I was only six or seven at the time, but I knew that when I grew up, I was destined to be one of them.

I’d go into our basement and practice my dance moves. It didn’t matter that I wasn’t taking dance lessons–I didn’t need them. I knew that if I just practiced my hip-shaking and my spin moves each night, I would become one of the best dancers. All my time spent practicing dance moves to songs like  “Knock on Wood“, “We Are Family” and “My Sherona” was going to get me started towards my dream.

Even as a high-schooler, I still dreamed of being a dancer (still no dance classes, but I thought it’d be such a cool job to be a dancer). My family went to visit the local amusement park one summer night, and while we were watching one of the park shows, I was chosen to go up on stage and dance with the professional dancers in the show. I thought it was the best thing in the world. I was actually on stage as a dancer! (Well, I was still not exactly a professional dancer, but I had a minute or two on stage!) The next year, when the local paper announced the amusement park was looking for dancers for the upcoming park season, I put on my sweatpants and sneakers and had my mother drive me to the try-outs. I couldn’t wait to show off my dance moves!

I got to the auditions, and I was suddenly aware of all the dancers who wanted the same job I had dreamed of since I was small. I also realized that these other teens and college-aged men and women had actual dance experience. They took dance lessons. For years. They had on the right shoes and the right clothing to try out as a dancer. Many had brough head shots with them. They also had taken voice lessons. When the choreographer taught us a short routine (rather quickly), I had a hard time keeping up. What the heck was a barrel turn? I had no clue. I looked like a fool, standing on the dance floor with dozens of properly-trained dancers. Of course, I was cut right away and was teary-eyed as I left the amusement park with no dance career in sight.

How naive I was as to think that becoming a famous dancer would happen so easily! Even though my dream of becoming a Solid Gold Dancer, or even an amusement park dancer, would never come to fruition, I did learn some lessons.

Always believe you can.
I believed as a young child that I could become a dancer and would somehow become one. Of course, it didn’t happen for me; but I always held onto that belief that it could eventually happen. I wish I still had that sense of belief that I had as a child. I’d definitely take more chances these days. There’s a saying that goes something like, “If you don’t believe, you can’t achieve“. Always believe you can, whatever it is you are working towards.

Try, even if you make a fool of yourself.
I looked so out of place at the amusement park auditions, and I cringe just thinking about it as I sit here. My family still laughs at my attempts to go to the try-out so unprepared. But you know what? Even though I looked crazy, I gave it my best shot.  As an older adult, I wish I would try more things and not be so reserved. We shouldn’t worry if we mess up or make fools of ourselves. If it is important to us and something we want to try, we should go for it no matter what.

Your failed attempts might lead you to what you are good at.
Growing up, my high school offered a separate performing arts track for students that applied and were accepted. Performing arts programs included videography, acting, dance and creative writing. I had (seriously) considered trying out for dance, but after my audition mess, I decided I would apply to the creative writing program. I always loved writing, and friends and teachers always commented on what a strong writer I was, but I wasn’t confident enough in my work. I applied anyway, and was accepted along with six other students. Going a different route in my strengths and interests helped me realize I really was good at writing, and I really enjoyed it (more than dance!).

To you, the reader, dream big–even as an adult, dream big! You might just get your chance to get what you’ve wanted years after you wish it–or you might find a different path and realize you were heading the wrong way all along and now you are moving the right way. You never know where your childhood dream can (still) take you.