Dance Class Casualty

Baby Loves to Cha-Cha

Over the years I’ve been dabbling in comedy – I once had a column in a local Sydney paper, I sent away pieces to Aussie magazines when I lived in London many years ago and even submitted the odd snippet to Reader’s Digest – remember them!

I do love dancing – but after several dance classes, in a variety of styles, I’d really rather do my own thing.

Here’s a bit of fiction …..kind of…..

I decided to take dancing lessons again. I thought a healthy amount of time had elapsed since my last foray into the fandango. I thought it was safe to go back onto the floor. This time I was doing it alone.

It’d been several years since I last signed up with the local evening college to learn Latin and Ballroom.

Then, all those years ago, my partner and I were bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, and eager to learn the fancy footwork.

The jive, rumba, foxtrot, quickstep, and waltz beckoned. We were particularly interested in the waltz. The bridal waltz. For James – that was the clumsy oaf’s name – and I were to be married.

We wanted to slay them on the dance floor at our fairytale wedding, which was six months away. We had plenty of time to learn the waltz.

“How difficult can it be?” I remember saying to James as we handed over the tuition money. I knew the waltz well;  the old one-two-three-together, from school days when we practised long and hard for the debutante ball.

I always fancied myself as pretty light on my feet, having a natural flair as I do for dancing. You see I’d won the Maroubra Beach Go-Go dancing contest back in the sixties and had mastered the stomp the year before.

James’s dancing skills were unknown to me. We had jostled with a bunch of drunken strangers on the dance floor a couple of times at parties, but we’d never done any slow stuff.

I arrived at my first class wearing a knee-length swing skirt and leather-soled fine shoes as I had read was the preferred mode of attire.

James was shod in huge Nike running shoes and wore cut-off jeans fraying at the ends.

The first lesson was the jive, which in short is a bit of jumping around and swinging your girl under your arm and around the room. Fun for sure, but frivolous. I wanted the waltz.

The following week James turned up in his RM Williams boots

The waltz lessons began in earnest, and I learned the meaning of excruciating pain as my betrothed stepped on my fine, black court shoes. At first, I smiled sweetly at my sweetie. He apologised, we started again, he trod all over me, kicked my shins, I winced, he squished my little toe, we sneered at each other, backed away, and went home for the night.

The next week we returned and did the whole thing over again. I stopped smiling sweetly. It was hard to look angelic as I hobbled around the floor on one lame foot. I tried to replace my feelings of pain with images of me swathed in white tulle gliding down the aisle on my wonderful wedding day.

The next week he broke both my big toes and as the stretcher carried me out to the ambulance, I broke off the engagement. I pawned the ring to pay the medical bills.

Months passed, the plasters came off and I learnt to walk again.

Now several years later I’ve again taken the plunge. The dancer in me cries to get out. My new class is more Latin than Ballroom and we’re learning the mambo, salsa, lambada and cha-cha.

I go to my classes as a free agent, one of those poor women who other women with partners look down on. I samba in the corner on my own, happy to be dreaming of Rio and the Mardi Gras.

And when the teacher cries “take your partner” my heart goes out to those women. They hobble towards their men, Band-Aids showing through their cut-away shoes, thick pantyhose barely covering the bruised legs.

Some are wearing engagement rings and I wonder will they make it to the altar, or will they become just another dance class statistic.

The partnerless women dance together in a circle. We mambo, we salsa and we jive. And baby….we love to cha-cha.

Take your partner….or maybe not!

These days I enjoy Zumba!

Photos courtesy of cartoonist Simon Leitch and Unsplash.

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