If I wrote about how I like to read Shakespearean sonnets, that wouldn’t sound out of the ordinary, I’m sure. If I said I loved 80s music, well, you probably knew that already from reading my previous posts. Even learning that I like to watch cheesy music videos from the 80s while singing along and giggling wouldn’t be any surprise. I’ve shared a lot with my readers over the last year, but there is something that remains a secret. No, I’m not ashamed to reveal it, I just never thought this little untyped-about fact was anything more than another love of mine – a hobby. Unfortunately, in this generation, my yet to be revealed fact is taboo or at least “not cool”.
I first discovered this unusual interest when I was about eight years old. I don’t know why, but when I was that age, my mom would let me stay up on Friday and Saturday night and watch television until I fell asleep on the floor. I’ve watched more hours of Nick at Nite than I’d like to admit. Earlier in the evenings though, before I Love Lucy or Green Acres sometimes I would find something mesmerizing on one of the less frequented channels. Something so captivating, I would just sit and stare in awe. No, I’m not referring to the lost episodes of Golden Girls where Betty White’s character would wear nothing but a bikini; I watched a show that even topped that… Championship Ballroom Dancing on PBS!!
Okay, so I was old before my time. I might have had the taste of sixty year old, but I didn’t know that at the time, nor did I care about being cool. I mean, a kid who has to wear cotton pants with bright colored flowers on them to school along with a pink bowling shirt has pretty much learned to deal with not being part of the “in crowd”. Now I didn’t like the the cotton pants, but I knew I loved ballroom dancing.
I saw past all of the makeup that made each female dancer look like Liza Minnelli dipped in vats of makeup and Aqua Net. I didn’t care if the male dancers wished they could dance with the other male dancers instead of their boob-having partners. Looks and sexual orientation didn’t concern me at all at that age, just like they don’t now. I simply found something beautiful in the movement and rhythmic motions. This is when I also learned that emotions could be expressed through dance. Some songs received light and happy dance steps while other songs were met with dark and intense actions. I loved it!
I never asked my parents if I could take up ballroom dancing. I never even thought of it as an option. In fact, as I entered my teens, I didn’t watch ballroom dancing any longer. One day though, in high school, we had an Honor Society meeting and had to brainstorm something to do for our community. I’m not sure where I got the idea, but I raised my hand and suggested a “Senior Prom”- a dance for senior citizens. This suggestion was actually the one chosen and we set out to make it something special for the people who would attend.
The teachers who headed up our group decided that we needed to find a way to participate directly in this “prom”. Their idea? They asked professional ballroom dance instructors to come to our school for three nights and teach the Honor Society members how to dance traditional ballroom dances. This was so we could dance with the attendees of the prom. I think I was seventeen at the time, and remember going to the first class one night in our school’s cafeteria. Almost all of the members attended. I was paired up with a younger student who hadn’t already paired up with someone. We practiced together a few minutes until a girl he liked showed up and then I was left alone. The elderly gentlemen who was there teaching with his wife said I could be his partner. I was nervous to be dancing with an older man let alone a professional dancer!
What happened during the last part of the class however, was amazing. I learned that as long as I could follow basic step by step instructions, the man did the rest. See, in dancing, the man leads, and if the man does this properly, the woman is basically being moved around the dance floor like a marionette. I was complimented by the instructor and I went home that night with a renewed love of ballroom dancing. I returned the next two nights thinking that I would be dancing with a student instead, but to my delight the instructor took me under his wing again. He also had brought some other professionals with him and they would take turns teaching me the steps for all sorts of dances. Along with traditional ballroom dances like the foxtrot and swing, we were taught a Latin dance… The cha cha cha. I felt like a princess, and I was again given compliments and praise for being able to keep up with the instructors.
The “Senior Prom” ended up being the only prom I attended in high school, but I enjoyed it. Those free lessons lit the pilot light in my soul that fueled the dancer in me. Wow! That has to be the cheesiest sentence I have ever typed. Sorry about that.
Sadly, I didn’t dance like that again until about fourteen years later. That’s when the Hispanic American Forum at my work offered three free salsa lessons. Once again, I was in heaven, but I didn’t get a professional partner and the lessons were spread out over three months and then promptly stopped. Shortly after those salsa lessons I started having problems with my back. The back pain was the result of years of untreated scoliosis. So due to pain and lack of money for lessons, I haven’t danced since.
This time however, the pilot light didn’t go out. I realized I truly love to dance and I needed an outlet. I longed to dance but had to settle for watching others. I watch Dirty Dancing every time it’s on TV (Oh how I wish I were Jennifer Gray). I have also become an avid watcher of, you guessed it, Dancing with the Stars. No one who knows me understands why I watch it – especially my husband. I get a lot of flak, but since season 9, I’ve been living vicariously through the female contestants. I wish famous bloggers could appear on that show. I think having millions of readers should qualify me to be on Season 14, don’t you?
I would love to know why such a beautiful and physically taxing sport becomes the recipient of so much teasing. That’s right, I called it a sport! Anything that takes skill and causes perspiring is a sport. Maybe it all comes down to jealousy. Guys are usually the ones doing the teasing; I think it’s because they wish they could be dancing with these shapely, flexible, and highly talented women. They wish they could be the guys who get to have their hands all over women without worry of a sexual harassment charge. In my husband’s case, maybe it’s because he knows he and I cannot dance together. It’s a comical event; I start trying to lead the dance because dancing like we’re in middle school again (you know, that slow awkward rocking back-and-forth from foot to foot while a Bryan Adams song plays in the background) is not acceptable when you’re in your thirties or even your twenties for that matter. I have hopes that my husband may miraculously turn into a debonair dancer and sweep me off of my feet one day, but I’m not going to hold my breath.
Despite all of the teasing I receive, I’m still going to watch ballroom dancing every chance I get. I love the elegance, the sexiness, the emotions, and the sheer beauty of it all. I have a huge appreciation for the hard work and physical effort that goes into every dance. If the chance ever arises for me to dance again, I will jump at it like Baby did into Johnny’s arms for the big lift! Okay, that was cheesy too, but it’s true.