Jean and I have been taking ballroom dance lessons for quite a few years. But beyond class and practice sessions, it’s not a skill we get to use that often.
Our instructors periodically organize dances that we attend, and there is a local Rainbow Rhythm ballroom dance group that puts on monthly events. We’ve been to a couple of those. At these evenings, everyone knows how to ballroom dance—albeit at different skill levels—so everyone dances in twos, in dance hold, and we all move around the floor in the same direction. The main challenge is that the floor tends to be more crowded than we’re used to in dance class.
Then sometimes we get invited to weddings, anniversaries, or work functions at which there is a DJ and dance floor. At these, of course, most people have no dance training and don’t follow any rules. They just move to the music, on their own, with one other person, or with a group of other people. Of course, that’s fun, and we do a some of that also, but we will also try to find a corner to actually dance steps together. Latin dances and jive, usually done in one spot, are usually manageable. But trying to waltz, fox trot, or quick step around the room is generally impossible.
Other people in our class expend a great deal more effort than we do trying to find places to dance. One spot they return to regularly is the Blue Moon, in the small nearby town of Petersburg. They especially like it when Dianne & the Cavaliers are playing there.
I’d been reluctant to go because their music has been described as Country Western, which—gotta say—is not my favorite! But when the whole rest of the class agreed to go last Saturday, we figured we should give it a try.
And damn, it was fun.
Country western it was, but good. Johnny Cash tunes, a whole medley of great 50s rock (starting with “Rock Around the Clock”), waltzes (mostly Viennese) like the Waltz of Texas, slow foxes, quick steps—just all with a twang. Talented band.
Now, it wasn’t always clear which dance to do. And looking around the floor didn’t necessarily help much. Although everyone was in dance hold, they weren’t necessarily doing the dances we learn in class. And they certainly weren’t respecting the line of dance. So even when we figured out the rhythm and what dance that implied (occasionally after trying out several), we still had to adapt. Rumbas (normally a stationary dance) that had to move around the room. Waltzes that had to weave in lines instead of circulate. And we kept getting stuck in the middle (“stuck in the middle with you,” Jean sang to me, at one point).
But figuring all that out was also rather fun. And the evening was great exercise, because they don’t play too many slow songs!
Jean marveled at the novelty of a room full of people all dancing as couples, doing steps, yet those not being “strictly ballroom”. And that it was a probably a generational thing—as we were leaving, he pointed out that we definitely appeared to be the youngest people there.
That hadn’t particularly noticed that til then is perhaps proof that dancing keeps you young. (Or, that I’m just not that observant. Could go either way.)