my younger sister was the talented child in our family. she could sing, she could tap, she could dance on point at six. but when i was about ten, in an effort to help me break out of my considerably thick shell, my mother signed she and i up for disco lessons at my sister's dance studio. (honestly, my sister was still too young to qualify for the lessons, so my mother had no choice but to partner with me...but i digress).
i really didn't want to learn how to dance, but on our sunday night long-distance phone call from st. louis, my grandmother implored me to take the lessons. "girls who don't dance aren't popular," she warned. she was the voice of experience. too often she was the gal who watched the purses at the table. and although my gram was the beauty, it was the 1940's and if you didn't dance you could forget about seriously socializing. the 1970's were promising to elevate dancing to the same level, so i heeded her warning and went to the class.
my dad was not at all interested in learning the hustle or babysitting my sister, so on tuesday night my mom, sister and i drove to the class. the attendees included fifteen middle-aged women, my mom (then in her late 20's) and me. oh, yea, and the instructor? he was a foxy 25 year old named scott who was trying very hard to be john travolta, right down to sporting the tightest polyester dance pants i had ever seen painted on a man.
the other ladies in the class were jockeying for a spot close to scott and i was hugging the bench near the wall. of course, just as in math class, when the teacher calls on you when you don't know the answer, scott came right up to me and asked me to demo the move he had just shown the class. palms sweating, face bright red, i took his outstretched hand and followed him to the center of the mirrored wall room, into the middle of the circle the ladies had formed. my sister hit "play" on the cassette deck and i froze. scott attempted to twirl me and my knees twisted in place. i remember actually stepping on his feet, which felt tiny under mine (even then i wore a ladies size 10 shoe). mortified, embarrassed, and defeated, i retreated to my spot on the bench.
my sister, though, had already learned the routine just by watching it one time. scott asked her to demo the moves and she gladly took the floor with him. it was incongruous and lovely the way this man twirled and spun and rocked the dance floor with my graceful 8 year old sister. from that point on, when scott wanted to show the class a new move, he took my sister as his partner. at least, that is what my mother told me, because after the first class, i didn't go back. the next week i stayed home with my dad and watched "happy days" or read or listened to my transistor radio from under my pillow.
i didn't dance again...all through high school and up until to college (when i learned how to move my booty to funk and ska).
kelly and i like to dance. we're not really good, but we do have a few signature moves that we can really show-off. we don't do any actual dances outside of the waltz and the polka, but at any given time we are the couple having the most fun. and more than actually dancing, i love to watch really good dancers do their thing. the ballroom contests on PBS? i'm wow-ed by them. the movie, "mad hot ballroom" moved me to tears and kept me on the edge of my seat. my ophthalmologist and his wife are world class ballroom champs and each year at my exam we spend a good portion of my appointment talking dance. our good friends, katherine and michael, met at tango lessons and are the smoothest dancers i know.
so last year when dancing with the stars premiered i thought i'd give it a shot. i thought it too gimmick-y, but i mean it was the middle of summer and what else was on tv? after the first episode with the live music and the crazy judges and the outrageous costumes, i was hooked. i was in love with the idea that people who had never before danced could learn to latin and ballroom dance. the idea is pure genius. on any given week, there's the possibility you might see someone who is horrible (hello, master p? i'm talking about you!). or you might see a blast from your past who is fantastic ...joey "whoa" lawrence, you rock! and don't forget "saved by the bell"'s mario lopez?
the thrill of watching these amateur dancers compete, moves me to reconsider my moratorium on dance lessons. if jerry springer can foxtrot (however, poorly) surely i can master a simple samba!
i wonder if scott is in the book?