Thursday, 27 February 2014

WordPress Daily Prompt: Let's Dance

In my earliest memories of dancing, I’m under my auntie Nancy’s dining room table, (which had been pushed off to the side of the room), watching my mom, dad, aunties, and uncles all dancing on the hardwood floor to a never-ending stack of 45 records, dropping one after the other. I remember foot-high stacks of 45s all around the record player. The song that I remember playing most? Twistin’ the Night Away by Sam Cooke. Every time I hear that song, I remember auntie’s spontaneous dance parties. What are your earliest and fondest memories of dance? 

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Me dancing with Marrocan Ladies in a Bedouin tent

Of course I can dance, we can all dance if we have to and want to. In case you do not recognise me, I am second from the left amidst a troop of Maroccan dancing ladies in a large Bedouin tent, just part of the action and a memorable week in Marrakesh some many years ago when my hair was still its original colour.

It looks like they want to know what I was up to in the ballrooms of long ago. I do not even know that myself. We dressed up on a Saturday evening after a visit to the hairdressers in the afternoon. It was the days of the “buffont” hair styles where you hair looked like a stylish balloon. It was the evening when I would regularly have an argument with mum because she felt I should wear a “head scarf” as it was cold outside and I would catch pneumonia, or something like that if I did not cover my head (and squash the efforts of the hairdresser). I would refuse, we would have a ten minute argument and I walked out of the house with a stupid scarf on my head, which I removed as soon as I turned the corner. I survived.

After a half hour journey on the London Underground, the adventure began at the Mecca Dancing Hall, Leicester Square, in the middle of London in the sixties. Two bands on a revolving stage: one was a smaller group and the other a full orchestra. They played all the modern songs. What was I doing in this place? What most of us were doing as a teenager. We were hunting for fresh meat, in the shape of man to put it frankly. Dancing was just a means to the result. If it was a fast tricky rock and roll, the men just drank their beers and looked on. If it was a slow “let’s get to know each other better” sort of thing, you were overwhelmed with offers. I was a tall person, even at that time, so I learnt only to accept a dance if he asked me when I was standing. There would then be no disappointments when I stood up to accept and he realised he had actually asked a zulu lady to dance.

Dancing at home occurred at Christmas and other parties when all the family were present. Dad liked to dance and was usually the whole evening on his feet. We listened to our 45 rpm records, but Sam Cooke was rarely heard. It was mostly Mrs. Mills, who was an English piano playing lady that played all the old tunes from the thirties and forties in the sing-along style for the golden oldies of the day and me and my cousins had our own thing in another room with perhaps something more modern, although the choice was restricted. I remember it was even 78 rpm records we listened to, where we changed the needle on the record machine after ten plays, as it was then worn down – probably one of the first examples of the throw away mentality.

I visited a girls only high school, and being on the taller side (the third tallest in the class), I had to play the man when we had dancing lessons. This was a definite disadvantage when visiting a dancehall. There is nothing more embarrassing than taking the lead on a slow smooch number in a dance hall when you have the man of your dreams in your arms.

These are some of my earliest memories of dance, but it seems I do not have any fond memories. No, I did not meet Mr. Swiss in a dance hall. If at all, I could have met him in a jazz club, but this was also not the case and I am not here to divulge all the details of my private life.

Today I might have a little dance in the kitchen whilst cooking up a plate of spaghetti , but this is a solo performance. As there is a certain golden-oldie risk in falling if my right foot thinks it is the left foot, I do not dance very often. My active sports are now reduced to Tai Chi, nice and slow, although even here I have problems when having to stand on one leg.

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1 comment:

  1. I think I can sum up my feeling on the subject in six words: Can't dance, won't dance, hate dance!!