anghara (anghara) wrote,

Shall we dance?...

Here's how a train of thought steams and puffs through the landscape of the subconscious.

A friend sent rdeck a link to a TRULY cheesy ad (I'm still not sure what precisely they were advertising, but the thing was full of beefcake - the muscly male variety - mostly stripped to the waist showing shiny sweaty abs you could break rocks on and one of them purporting to be a fireman holding a fire hose in an intensely suggestive position which... oh, never mind, you get the picture...) which used, as soundtrack, the "I've had the time of my life" final dance from "Dirty Dancing". So naturally when You Tube finished playing the cheesy ad it stuck up other things it thought you might want to watch, and one of them was a link to your ACTUAL final dance sequence from "Dirty Dancing" with Jennifer Grey and a young Swayze - and you have to remember I saw that movie when it first came out and most people my age, gender and generation who saw that movie thought that Swayze was a young GOD, and dammit, we wished we could dance like that, just once, with someone who *knew how*.

Here comes the train of thought, pulling into a stop.

Dancing. I love dancing. I learned from my Daddy when I was a little girl, and I have an innate sense of rhythm anyway, and I grew up into a young woman who could do practically anything at all with any kind of music so long as I had a partner who could give me a strong lead.

One of my fondest memories is attending an office party at a company where I worked briefly - I had not been there long, and knew few people, and I was new to the whole area anyway and had no partner to bring so I kind of just turned up anyway. The party was supposed to be on a 70's theme, but with a kind of weird inevitability I listened to the DJ start slipping backwards. First from mid-seventies to early seventies, then to 1969, 1968, 1965... and before long we were having pure old-fashioned joyful rock-n-roll, disco be damned. I was standing by the side of the dance floor at one point, tapping my feet, and beside me was this complete and utter stranger - a guy whom someone else had brought and abandoned. We stood for a while, side by side, watching others gyrate, and then he caught my eye and gave me a wry grin.

"Want to dance?" he said.

"Sure," I said.

We stepped onto the dance floor just as the currently playing song died. We looked at each other and laughed, and waited - and the next song began. And we started to dance.

AND HE KNEW WHAT HE WAS DOING. He knew how to give me a subtle signal about what was about to happen next, and I knew exactly what to do and when to do it. We danced that song, and then that ended, and we danced the next - and only towards the end of that did I become aware that the dance floor had emptied to give us room, that people were standing around the sides clapping, and the song ended as he kind of ended the thing with a flourish and a dip and then we stayed there for a moment alone on an empty dance floor amidst tumultuous applause.

He helped me back to my feet again, and gave me a crooked smile.

"What was your name, again?" he said.

We didn't even know each other's names. We had never spoken before, let alone danced together before, let alone practiced dancing together before. And yet all the ingredients had been there - the right rhythms, a man who knew how to lead, a woman who could read the signals and responded by instinct. We might have been pros.

His partner - the one who had abandoned him - probably claimed him quickly after that display. I can't see a woman NOT doing that. I don't remember ever seeing him again. But for that one moment - well - he was my Swayze. And I danced.

This story delights my beloved husband... but, alas, only as a theoretical idea. This is a man who says he can't hear the one-two-three in a WALTZ. Sigh.

And yet here's me again, long before the rock-n-roll magic, at my Debutante Ball (oh, don't laugh. So I went to one. It pretty much depended on gathering money for charity, and I got to dress up in a ball gown and go to a ball, and WHAT?! I was going to pass that up...?) There were maybe a dozen of us girls, ranging in age from 18-ish to about 26 or so (I was on the upper edge of that spectrum at this point). We were supposed to open the ball with a Viennese waltz, us and our partners - the idea was that we would be there on the floor standing in a loose semicircle, couple by couple side by side hand in hand, and then, as the opening bars of the waltz sounded - "DAH-dahdahdah-dahdahdah-dahdahdah-dah-DAH...." and on that last beat we girls were supposed to turn smoothly into our partner's arms, and step out into the waltz.

Only I was the *only person there who could waltz at all*. We had an instructor who was supposed to teach us how to do this impossibly complicated task of counting to three, and everyone kept fluffing their timing, and time and again he would drag his hands through his hair, which was already standing on end, and reach out for me, and yelp, "For the love of GOD - one more time - like THIS!" (And it would be perfect. And he'd let me go. And we'd do it again. And the ditz at one end of the line or another would come in on TWO or not at all, and off we'd be again, round the mulberry bush...) We made a ragged little line at the opening of the ball but we did accomplish it somehow - and yet it was a chore for all those girls, something they had to LEARN, whereas for me it was a breath of melody and a touch of music and my feet would just GO and do the right thing at the right time...

It isn't as though dancing is completely instinctive. I still remember the time that one of our older family friends who fancied herself a great dancer had the brazen cheek to ask a visiting dignitary - who happened to be the Brazilian Ambassador - for a tango. The diplomat, being a diplomat, stood up with a small regal bow and accepted... except that within ten seconds of the tango our friend was woefully aware of just what she had done. This was a guy who knew how to dance the tango. The REAL tango. And she was about to look like a stork on stilts.

The expression on her face was completely stricken, when she thought the Ambassador wasn't looking, her eyes round with a horror so profound that it was comical. She didn't do TOO badly, everything considered, but several of us had to leave the room because we could not give way to our helpless giggles right there, and the corridor outside the hostess's living room was crowded with people weeping with laughter. I suppose it wasn't very kind of us. But GOD, she was asking for it - the TANGO, no less! - and it was a scene straight from a movie, still glittering in my memory as though I had watched some great comic actress pick up the woman's part, a Lucille Ball or a Goldie Hawn or even perhaps a haughty Katharine Hepburn needing to be taken down a notch or two from a self-raised pedestal.

But oh... dance. The floating on top of the music, like a leaf dancing with the wind.

On that note, then - shall we dance...?


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