How many times have we seen our hero and heroine dance, probably with reluctance on at least one of their parts, when he pulls her masterfully into his arms, and one or both feel an electricity unlike anything they’ve experienced before, and the evidence of his enjoyment of her closeness becomes obvious and shocks her, or intrigues her, and the sparks fly, and then…and then…?
In real life I’m sure this happens to people who don’t have a dysfunctional dancing history, as I do.
My first memory of dancing involves doing the Twist in the school cafeteria in fifth grade. Simple enough, except my Twisting was enhanced by my big sister’s red stiletto heels that I smuggled out of the house and added to my school uniform. Looking back, I suspect my classmates were laughing at the sight of a scrawny little kid contorting herself to Chubby Checker’s tune while attempting to balance on treacherous four inch heels, rather than a critique of my technique in general. But their hilarity put a damper on my dancing for quite some time.
Until seventh grade, at least, when the seventh graders traditionally gave the eighth graders a send-off through an end-of-the-year dance. I had a big crush on an eighth grade boy named Victor, and I fervently hoped he might ask my still-scrawny little self to dance. My oh-so-helpful big brother offered to teach me some moves, just in case. “The sign that a girl’s a good dancer,” he told me, “is that you stand on your partner’s feet, and no matter how hard he tries to get his feet out from under yours, you manage to hold on.” We practiced until I was able to cling to his feet like a barnacle.
When Victor amazingly did ask me to dance, I was ready. I climbed right on top of his shiny leather shoes and hung on with all my might. Now, my brother had also informed me that a guy who was a good dancer would do his best to get his feet out from under mine. Victor was indeed a good dancer. It was almost like a duel. Victor trying to escape, me trying to hang on. Classmates inexplicably pointing and chuckling on the sidelines. Most likely admiring my technique, I thought, until my brother confessed after the dance.
My disastrous dancing exploits followed me to high school, where a retired Rockette taught us jazz dancing in gym class. Left, right, left, right…I always seemed to be going in the wrong direction. I don’t remember the teacher’s name but I vividly recall her suggesting I might do better being in charge of the record player.
And then the square dancing, again with the left, right, left, right. I had no clue where to go. Why couldn’t we just have done sit-ups or something?
No more dancing for me, until I married a man who loves to dance. Oh, boy. Other women tell me how lucky I am that my spouse wants to take me dancing on Saturday nights when their partners prefer watching sports on TV.
In self-defense, I’ve taken every kind of dance class I can find.
Aerobics, Zumba, burlesque, belly dancing, salsa, and even some ballroom dance lessons we took together. I’ve developed enough decent moves that I can hold my own and even have a good time.
As long as I don’t try to dance in red high heels...
or stand on my husband’s feet...
or get involved in dance steps that require me to know left from right...
I think I can put my traumatic dancing past behind me and just get up and dance.
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