Pleasures (And Pratfalls) Of Dancing


Since this is the time of year for Sugar Plum fairies, dancing comes to mind. Ballroom dancing, for instance: to watch a pair of dancers who have mastered the craft glide across the floor—well, it’s beautiful. No other word for it. And  Dancing With the Stars notwithstanding, ballroom dancing is something  that everyone can do.

Why else would dancing have been around for a long, long time? Besides, it has another added attraction— romance. Partners dance together. I suspect that romance must have been in the air when Mike and I went dancing on our first date more than a half century ago. To wit—he didn’t step on my feet; I didn’t try to wrestle the lead away from him; and the rest is history. I mention feet because it really is a romantic deal breaker if a dancer treads heavily on the toes of his/her partner.

Yes, romance is palpably in the air when the orchestra plays and couples swirl about the room in each other’s arms. It fosters a moment such as the one we witnessed not long ago: in the middle of a waltz a man dropped to one knee and presented his wife of twenty five years with a diamond ring. The lady was surprised and delighted and everyone on the floor applauded wildly.

Interestingly enough, the waltz was once considered a scandalous dance. What? gasped matrons in 1812 England. A man holds a lady in his arms? What is this world coming to? Eventually, the Victorian code of dancing twelve inches apart came into being and the waltz survived—fortunately for Hollywood, which has introduced swirling couples in some of its iconic films—remember the waltz in Gone With the Wind? And  lucky, too, for our friends married for three score years, who took a solo dance to the ‘Wedding Waltz’ within a ring of happy well wishers.

There’s no question that dancing can be hard work. Just ask anyone, novice or skilled, who has just learned a new step and is trying to commit it to memory. The mind might be willing, but the feet don’t seem to get it. I can tell you from experience that there might be bruises, sore toes, gritted teeth and a hundred sheepish “Oops!” before anything like gliding can be accomplished.

There are hazardous moments, too when dancers forget the line of dance—the counterclockwise motion around the floor—or when they wax too exuberant, throw their arms and legs about, and either collide with another couple, smack an unwary passerby in the face, or deliver a sharp kick to someone else’s shin.  A case in point is the gruesome case of the Dancing Doctor who liked to kick his legs high in every direction and who collapsed and expired one night in the midst of a particularly vigorous kick. For weeks afterward, someone would take ghoulish delight in escorting newcomers to a spot on the floor and whisper, “Right here  is where Doc dropped dead!”

High kicking might not be the best way to go, and there are other potentially dangerous moves—deep dips, for instance. Believe me, those take a lot of practice. The other day we were at a dinner dance when the man seated behind us turned around to say, “Know what? The test of successful dancing is when you manage to remain upright on the floor.”

How so? He was asked. “Well,” he explained, “the other night my wife caught her heel on something and started to fall. I tried hold her up—but then she grabbed hold of my tie and dragged me down to the floor with her!” He shook his head. “I asked her why she did such a fool thing and she said she wasn’t going to be the only one on the floor!”

Which proves my point—dancing is something you do together!

Gracefully they swirl

Around the crowded ball room…

My feet are aching.

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About Maureen C. Wartski

I’m Maureen Wartski, writer, artist, wife, mother, grandmother; you can see that I have many of the bases covered. I was born in Ashiya, Japan, a (then) small town which lay cradled between sea and mountains. In the evenings, we would walk along the road that ran past Osaka Bay, and a great moon would rise out of the water to turn the world to silver. I’m told that my first words were, “Big moon!” All my life I have felt the tug to write something, draw something, put together something with fabric, string and color, and the urge to create has grown through the years. I suppose, then, that it’s a natural thing that this blog be full of the things that so many of you enjoy doing…drawing, making something with fabric, and writing. Yuri's Brush with Magic, my newest book for middle schoolers follows the adventures of a brother and sister, the magic of words, and the incredible magic of the natural world. I'd love to hear from you! You can send me a note at: My blog is here: Or friend me on Facebook!

10 responses »

  1. I remember how many times I met Al at the airport and as he got off the plane reminded him we had a dance lesson that night. He didn’t say he was tired but smiled graciously and said , Let’s go.

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