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Lord of the Dance

Sun, Sep 3rd, 2000
Posted in

Monday, August 28, 2000

My wife told me that I had won first prize and was chosen to be her escort for her all-school reunion last weekend. I actually looked forward to the event, especially when it was her reunion and not mine. It was unlikely that I would be the one straining through uncooperative bifocals to read nametags of people who seemed to know me well. My place was to sit quietly and smile while everyone else tried to carry on meaningful conversations over the noise of a hundred other such conversations. It was a chance for me to overeat, observe people, and relax in the knowledge that nobody there knew me or had the time to try.

Among the most interesting characters in the room was the young man they hired to put on the dance. He was a disc jockey who felt that he had to do his own singing. I was skeptical at first that this act was going to fill the last four hours of the evening in a productive manner. His Elvis impersonations had me thinking, "Why is it always Elvis? Why not a Perry Como or Bing Crosby impersonator?" Not that I care about them all that much, but it would be different.

The dance started in name only. The disc jockey sang a couple numbers and pleaded with people to come and dance. I had to give him credit that he did not get discouraged and sit down. He kept trying and finally played a couple slow numbers that filled the dance floor with couples who had been waiting for that type of music. After two slow songs, he switched to a faster beat that swept the floor completely clear of dancers. They never returned in such numbers for the rest of the evening.

I tried to do my part. My dancing skills are crude. I have two feet, one left and one right, that have managed to do almost everything I have ever asked them to do. However, when it comes to dancing, I think my problem is that I am musically impaired. To me, it seems that most of the songs have exactly the same rhythm and if that rhythm is the least bit subtle, I am lost. With coaching from my musical and graceful wife, I can eventually get my feet going in some semblance of a dance. The waltz, foxtrot, and swing always receive a completely new interpretation when I am trying to do them.

Those who tried to educate me early in life are not to blame for my dance ineptitude. Our country school was visited once a week by a roving music teacher who did what she could to get us up to speed in that department. At her bidding, we shoved our desks to the walls and prepared to dance. This preparation consisted of the boys attempting the impossible task of hiding behind one another. The girls huddled on the other side of the room, peering out from time to time to speculate on partners. The girls were excited. The boys were appalled.

Square dancing was our course of study. It involved touching an opponent of the opposite gender, but not too much. The partners were selected by the teacher who quickly put an end to the silliness that was taking place on both sides of the room. I remember standing quietly as we received our instructions. I also recall wondering exactly what the point of all this was. I am sure that, when the dancing started, my dance steps were somewhat less than graceful. The girls, as always, did much better. They enjoyed themselves so much that the boys finally got on track and cooperated as well as we could.

It is with this pathetic background that I watched the disc jockey at the dance do his thing. When no one was out dancing, he put on the music and came down and grabbed a woman out of those who were sitting and watching. He danced with them whether they knew what was happening or not. The ladies need not have worried that someone would see them and think them clumsy, because all eyes were on the dancing disc jockey. He put on a show of his own and didnt really need a partner.

Although I was impressed by his dancing ability, I am quite a way from feeling envious. Despite the best efforts of my early music teachers, it looks like a career in dance is beyond me. I still do my best to keep off my wifes feet and that seems to be good enough.

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