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.