I suppose it started when I was about three. When I started taking dance. And, of course, when you’re three you perform. For all. Right there in the living room. Or, in the high school auditorium where the recital took place. For as long as I can remember I have loved to dance. All kinds. Anytime, anywhere.
I took tap, ballet and jazz. My specialty was tap. Did my first solo at 5. I was a crow dancing among scare crows. I’ve got a picture somewhere. I remember they had to make my costume a little lower in the back to cover my cheeks. There was quite a bit of discussion about this. Still holds true.
When I was in the fourth grade I did a duet. With a drummer. He would drum the beat and I would follow in my tap shoes. It was a precursor to Dueling Banjos. He was a college guy. I, a peep squeak. But, I felt really cool. Until I saw a picture from the recital of the pin curls in my hair.
That next fall I started helping to teach a little. I was in my element and thought myself quite a prodigy. In January we moved to Houston from Lubbock. The big city turned out to be quite a bit more sophisticated. No more tap. Only ballet. Oh, there was some studio in town that taught tap but my mom found this one more acceptable. The other one was owned by the mother of Patrick Swayze…and he was the star student!! Who knows what might have happened.
Anyway, turns out I was not sophisticated enough for ballet. Not graceful enough I suppose. I kept taking ballet and then jazz until my senior year in high school but it never was quite the same. I missed my tap rhythms….I became part of the chorus. I was a fern among the flowers. Literally, in the recital.
One of my most favorite memories as a young child was of my parents rolling up the braided rug in the living room teaching my sister and her boyfriend how to cha cha. I was right in the middle of it all. That is still one of my favorite dances today! I also love anything by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. I’m instantly a kid again watching my parents. My mother and dad were the best dancers I ever knew. They simply melded into one when they danced.
Much later, after my mom had passed away, I remember dancing with my dad at a formal event. He was ever the gentleman, but a little less sure on his feet. This time he depended on me. It was heart breaking and sweet all in the same breath.
Naturally, in the 80’s, I taught aerobics. It was a way for me to legitimately dance. In public. Complete with leg warmers and headband. I was a bad ass. Well, maybe only in my mind. But something about it brought me back to those old rhythms and I loved it. I taught first in a community gym and then in a health club when we moved to San Antonio. For about ten years I either taught or did personal training. It kept me fit. And thin. For a while I sort of lost track and lost so much weight that my tail bone stuck out. Definitely not the case now!! I couldn’t find my tail bone if my life depended on it.
All through our almost 42 years of marriage I have dragged Tom on the dance floor whenever I can. He’s a good dancer. And, I think he likes it more than he puts on. In our younger days we would go country western dancing. It was something to see the boy from Brooklyn dance the two step like a native. A real urban cowboy.
Our daughter, Lauren, took up the dancing tradition and she could tap circles around me. She also could sing and spent a large part of her formative years in musical theatre. Her dancing career was also “interrupted” when we moved to Houston. We hold hope for this next generation?
When Eloise was really little, first walking, we would have dance parties in the den. She would squeal with delight as we danced to Disney tunes. Now, she and Avery entertain us with their lively interpretations of the latest Kidz Bop songs. She doesn’t seem as thrilled as she used to when I join them…But, she is a natural. Avery, maybe not so much. The jury is still out. But, oh, I’m so excited about their recital this year!
I don’t know what made me think of all this tonight. Maybe it was the Amazon Prime Santana album I am listening to. Did you know there is a cha cha beat to many Santana songs?
Right now I’m thinking about a friend who is fighting a fierce battle with pancreatic cancer. She also recently had a major stroke and she now has no movement on her left side. Her beautiful spirit is trapped inside a tiny and stubbornly frozen body. She loves to dance too. A few weeks before she had the stroke we were at a fund raiser together and I watched her enjoy dancing with her husband. First and last ones on the dance floor. Her smiling face belied the seriousness of her health condition. I’m so glad she had that moment of sheer joy on the dance floor. I think she felt a bit of heaven in those few minutes of rhythm. It has been rough going for her since.
I know some might think of heaven as a quiet place. Not me. I think of lots of music and lots of dancing. Everyone moving and smiling together. The perfect line dance! At least I hope there is some of that.
So, tonight. Right here in my living room I dance. I dance by myself and for my friend. And, for all the times I have ever danced and took it for granted. There’s no braided rug to roll up. I simply cha cha with my whole heart.
Now is the time we have to dance.
Something to chew on…