Oct 9 2008, 03:00 AM
I watched the 17 hour Ken Burns documentary on Jazz. From that my wife, Gwynne, and I decided to take a swing dancing class to spend some time together learning something new.
Wednesday night at 5:30pm: "I know all you girls are here to dance," began the instructor. "I want to thank all you boys for being good sports. Please line up facing your partners." I didn't do the mathematics right then but if I had, there were 15 dance couples and the class lasted 45 minutes...
It started predictably enough: where to put your feet, how to hold your partner, recognizing the beat. Gwynne and I smiled at each other - this was going to be fun. Abruptly, the instructor blew a whistle. "Okay. Change partners. Boys stay where you are - girls shift left one." Surprised, Gwynne and I looked around, hesitated, but the next woman was already moving in on me. Gwynne reluctantly stepped left to a new set of arms.
"Hi. I'm Judy," said my new partner.
"Oh. Hi. I'm Martin," I said, trying to get my arms in position around her waist. There was an awkward silence.
"Do you live around here?" asked Judy.
"Uh. Yeah." More awkwardness.
"Don't mind my clumsy feet."
During this time the dance instruction continued but I noticed nothing but strained introductions until the whistle blew. Instantly, I was relieved, but within seconds there was another unfamiliar woman in my arms.
"Oh... my name badge is covered but I'm Diane."
"Do you dance much?"
"Excuse me. I'm just learning."
The whistle blew.
"My husband Sid's got the cancer. We decided we'd do the dancing before he passes on."
"Um. That's... interesting."
The whistle blew.
45 minutes of excruciating pain - the last 10 minutes were unbearable. I never danced with my wife.
When it was over, Gwynne chatted happily about the lessons while I drove silently home. During the rest of the evening I was trying to decide what I was feeling. About 10pm Gwynne says, "Let's practice." I thought that was a great idea. We put our arms on each other, arranged our feet, listened to the music. Then I stumbled around not knowing what to do. "What's wrong?" Gwynne asked exasperated. "Didn't you learn anything in class?"
Oct 9 2008, 03:18 AM
No commentary to add here. I just want to say how much I enjoy reading your minutes. They are always fun to read.
Oct 9 2008, 05:29 AM
Martin, you have to learn to unbend a little. Vicki and I took ballroom lessons and danced for nearly ten years. Switching partners is standard. Dancing with other partners is the best way to improve. It's as much about socializing as knowing where to put your feet.
So this was just your first class. Next time you'll know some of the others' names and you'll all have the shared experience of learning something new together. You'll improve with practice and when that happens in a group it's a genuine charge of good feeling.
So, dance fool dance!
Oct 9 2008, 07:35 AM
I suspect Martin is one of those people who are so perceptive and have so much going on upstairs that he finds it difficult to deal with average minds. Beethoven, Ayn Rand and (theater organist) George Wright were like that. I knew Wright, and being in his presence was like being naked under bright lights.
Oct 9 2008, 10:41 AM
I too enjoy reading Martin's minutes. It's good to be able to relate to others that have had "experiences" in life that made us feel .... uncomfortable. Martin's story reminds me of the time I was a senior in high school.
Being a senior you were given first crack at what event in P.E. you wanted to sign up for. For those young people out there P.E. stands for physical education and in my day you had to take P.E. all the way from grade school through high school. Not only take it, but also pass it as well in order to graduate. Anyhoo ... My friend and I had decided to sign up for Folk Dance and we got into line to do just that. With both of us being somewhat practical jokers, we felt that doing this was going to be a real hoot. Unfortunately, I found out that my "friend" was just slightly more devious then I was. As I signed my name on the sheet and turned around to hand him the pen .... well, he was no longer behind me. As I scanned the gym, I spotted him standing a couple of lines over for basketball? ... tennis? ... whatever it was. Needless to say he had a big grin on his face. I quickly debated whether I could immediately turn back around and scribble my name off the list ... but it was too late ... I just had to accept the fact that for this semester I was going to be a Folk Dancer. Have I mentioned yet that I really can't dance?
When the first day of class came I knew I would have to think positive. I knew that there would at least be some girls in the class and this would afford me the opportunity to mingle with the fairer species. That HAD to be a positive ... right?! So I made my way to the female side of the gym (normally in P.E. the guys and gals are segregated) and prepared myself for what was just beyond that door. As I entered I was met with what seemed like a hundred thousand eyeballs all starring at me. A hundred thousand eyeballs all surrounded with eyeliner. Uh-oh! I sheepishly made my way to an area and sat down on the floor. Yep, I was going to be the only guy in the class of 30 girls. As uncomfortable as I was, I was still optimistic that this 30:1 ratio might actually be in my favor. The teacher started the lesson by showing us a couple of dance moves and then the big moment came for all of us to pair up and try them. "Here we go" ... I thought to myself ... "here is my chance to find someone cute and start "dancing" (that's code for me stepping on other people's toes). Everyone then started to pair up with each other. Unfortunately, with there being an even number of girls, that meant that they could all pair up together. This of course left me being the odd man out ...literally. As I stood there with a look upon my face that probably resembled a caveman trying to do long division in his head, it was at this time that my partner came up to me and asked if I was ready. Yep, you guessed it ... my partner was the teacher. Although a female, this wasn't exactly what I was expecting. "Please! ... Please! ... Please world come to an end!" ... I mumbled to myself. Alas ... the world was safe ... my teachers toes weren't ... I have since forgotten anything having to do with dance ... but I did learn a valuable lesson. Always use a pencil .. or at least one of those fancy pens where you can erase the ink.
Oct 9 2008, 06:22 PM
Quite awhile ago my wife and I took a ballroom dancing class...we did not change partners . We were able to use the training at her brother's wedding. However if I was to try to do it now.. wait... step, step,.... slide, step..... or something like that.
Oct 11 2008, 08:06 AM
I might be on the hook for dance lessons in January.
Oct 12 2008, 02:13 PM
Martin's post certainly brings back a lot of good time memories.
When we met in college over 33 years ago, I was a gymnast and my wife (future) was a ballet dancer.
We took a ballroom dance class together and have been partners ever since.
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