In just little over a month, I turn another year older. I’ll be the age where I must accept I’m on the downhill slide of life. My husband’s 30th class reunion is this summer as well. Thirty Years. I take little comfort that I am younger. Twenty-five years ago, I was a supervisor in a ballroom dance studio trying to convince people that ballroom dancing will make you Confident! Beautiful! Sought-after on the Dance Floor! Healthy!
I can attest to the Healthy, but the rest? Not so much. First of all, dance lessons are easier if taken as a couple and even then the guy-half of your couple will most usually struggle to maintain a beat or feel relaxed enough so he doesn’t look like a cob was shoved up his backside.
This was not to say all the women who came to the studios had rhythm or grace. I remember one particular woman, an obstetrician (Dr. Gill), who had been taken lessons for years. The poor woman had the moves of a large cardboard box filled with rocks and she was at least that difficult to move around on the floor. At this point, I should tell you at the time, instructors were required to know how to both lead and follow, and each Friday at the end of the day we would have a “practice” dance and female instructors were expected to lead female students since they easily outnumbered male partners 6:1.
I dreaded dancing with Dr. Gill. The physical exertion required in moving her in a Tango was taxing even though she knew the steps. I also remember an incident with this student that did not involve dancing: I was holding a meeting in my office which was basically a glass-enclosed cubby with glass sliding door that enabled me to have a 135 degree (go ahead, I’ll wait for you to calculate it) of the studio. I had the door shut for the meeting and I stood shocked and powerless as she barreled up to my office entryway and ran face-on into the closed door thinking it was open. Thankfully only her pride was damaged. I still can see the image of her lipstick prints as if it was yesterday.
Once I became adept at the basic dance steps, many times I would join my fellow instructors and go to the clubs in town and dance. As long as there were a couple of male instructors in our group, it was fun. We were the annoying couple taking up the space of ten showing off with cha-chas and swings and twirling in your face and stomping on your feet with three-inch spiked heels. And you guys thought I am an attention whore NOW…
When I met Sparring Partner, I thought I could teach him how to dance. He might think I was teaching him how to dance better, but in all reality – a not-so-uncommon reality – playing Air Drumsticks does not equivalent rhythm. I gave up trying to teach him a sloppy, casual two-step-slash-foxtrot because it ain’t no fun trying to keep your partner on time by hissing “step, step, hold!” in his ear.
We haven’t gone dancing in years and years. But in my head, almost every song on the radio I think about in dance terms. Can I cha-cha to this? Is it a waltz? Oooh, I could so rumba to that…. I car dance if the song is particularly catchy and I’m driving solo. Admit it, you’ve Car Danced, too. Unfortunately, it’s been twenty years since I was a professional instructor and recently I’ve realized I’d forgotten the steps to a basic traveling Foxtrot box (a not so basic step lasting a total of 16 beats in 4/4 timing), and that bums me out.
Oh, those were some crazy days. Sex, drugs and rock-n-roll (and lots of Big Band). Back then I could have never imagined my life would become so provincial.