I used to dance.
I’m not going to say I danced well, but I moved when the music moved me – usually it was crazy loud stuff with a thudding beat that got me hopping. Dancing is good exercise. I attribute at least a few pounds of my weight gain since the mid-1990s to the fact I don’t dance much anymore. Sometimes I dance with the kids, but that’s often an upper-body exercise that involves lifting short people and swinging them around while they giggle uncontrollably. There’s not a lot of aerobic workout there – not like when I was younger and sillier.
Some folks might say leaping about like a maniac does not really constitute good dancing, even if I do it particularly well. What I definitely don’t do particularly well is the simple round.
This appears to be the meat and potatoes of many exciting and exotic dances. Whether you’re covering the dance floor to the tune of “Crystal Chandelier” or embarking on a more adventurous tango, you probably started with a round.
I’m pretty sure that, to master the most basic version, you really just have to be able to count to three, but somehow this eludes me. Usually you let the fellow lead, too. Apparently I’m not much inclined to do so, although I don’t take control on purpose.
How did it come to this? After all, I was born here in Lanark County and have attended my fair share of stag and does, wedding receptions, reunions and anniversary parties where this dance is as common as water. Legions of couples have danced past me, gliding around the hall and adjusting the number of steps they take (and the direction they move) according to the rhythm of the song.
It’s as if when you’re born here you go from the baby bottle to potty training to learning to walk to doing the two-step to attending Junior Kindergarten. These people can dance like they breathe!
Okay. Enough hyperbole. Sort of.
My attention was drawn (again) to this serious personal social deficit a couple of weeks ago when I attended an anniversary party for a couple on the in-laws’ side. Many of these folks, including my father-in-law, hail from a rural area west of Perth and I think they were born dancing the round.
That said, it must have skipped a generation because Groom-boy doesn’t dance except in situations of intense obligation, such as his own wedding. When he does dance, he’s pretty good. He doesn’t do maniacal silly fast dances like I do (to that new-fangled music the kids listen to today), but he has a decent hybrid. It’s not quite the way his parents dance, but it is a step above the old turning-around-in-a-slow-wobbly-circle that constitutes the standby “slow dance” from high school.
Ah, his parents. They dance divinely. So when father-in-law asked me to dance at this anniversary party I was thoroughly intimidated. First of all, I couldn’t hope – on a GOOD day – to be able to dance that well and, secondly, I was seriously out of practice since I can’t honestly remember the last time I danced at all, other than the aforementioned flinging-children-around thing.
Seriously. Was it really at my brother’s wedding three years ago? Get out.
Anyway, I reluctantly followed FIL to the dance floor whereupon he tried to get me going in the right direction. Naturally, I took the lead.
I rescinded the lead and we started again. I stepped on his toes about 47 times and he stepped on mine a few times because my feet were frequently in the wrong place. When I counted the steps in my head I did okay, but as soon as I opened my mouth to speak I lost concentration and we would start over again.
We headed back to the table. People were laughing – with us, I know, because it was pretty funny.
For two days after that my mother-in-law tried to tell me we had “danced beautifully.” I told her it is time to get a new prescription for her glasses.
All I can say is someone had better teach my kids to dance if they are going to survive in Lanark County. The Chicken Dance will only take you so far. (Published in The Perth Courier, Oct. 27/09)