When I was a very little girl, maybe three years old, I have memories of dancing. Dancing with my doll, dancing with my sister and brothers. Mostly I recall our "dancing" to be sort of "ring around the rosie -ish" but in my teeny tiny mind, I was dancing. Time passed and I outgrew the circle dance that so delighted me as a preschooler. It wasn't until we moved to England, when I was 10, that I recall dancing again.
We never had a television, and instead, amused ourselves with records and books. On occasion, Dad would move all of the living room furniture out of the way, put records on the turntable and we'd dance. All of us, the six kids and Dad. I don't really ever recall Mom dancing with us, but probably she did and I am just not remembering. I know Dad taught us how to waltz (ever so useful in the disco's of the early 70's LOL) I have never forgotten how to waltz, though I probably can count on one hand the times I have actually "waltzed" in public.
One night I recall Dad showing how to dance the "modern way." Now, I don't mind telling you, it looked a little funny to me seeing Dad do his rendition of the 70's dance hall. His arms were flailing and his legs were going every which way. And Jeannie, my sister, did not indicate that Dad's version of the modern dance was anything less than accurate. And she was 12 or 13 at the time. She would have KNOWN, because she WAS out there at the discos, dancing with the other kids of Cheltenham. No, I was convinced that Dad was correct and so, copied his "style" -- we all did, my brothers and me. I really cannot recall whether Jeannie did, but, then again, I was too preoccupied with polishing my own dancing skills to concern myself with hers.
When we returned to the States, I was in the eighth grade. One of the very cool perks of being in Jr High, as we called it then, was the "teen club." Now I don't recall whether this was an every Friday night thing, or once or twice a month, but I do know it was fun. I looked forward to going to teen club, where many of the kids danced, but where those who prefered could go play games, basketball, etc. I vividly recall the night I finally had the courage to get out on the dance floor with the other kids. I decided Dad had been right, that the kids were dancing, more or less as he he taught us. And so, with a reasonable amount of confidence, I joined the pulsating throng of kids and before long my arms were flailing and my feet were moving in all sorts of strange directions.
All was going well for the first few minutes. All of a sudden, my friend Chris Macey, who himself was no prize, with a mouth full of metal braces, and a skinny gawky appearance, started to laugh. I looked to see what was so funny. Part of Chris's charm was his laugh. He threw his head back and I swear his mouth opened wider than any I've ever seen, except perhaps that guy on the commercial with the flip-top head. Anyway, Chris had his head thrown back, mouth open a mile, and was laughing for all he was worth.... AT ME!
"What's so funny?" I asked. He seriously sounded like he was going to choke to death, he was laughing so hard.
"What are you doing?" he finally got out.
"What do you mean, what am I doing? I'm dancing!"
Well, he laughed even harder at that. It seems that simply flailing the arms and having the feet going at all kinds of cock-eyed directions did not actually constitute "dancing." I laughed it off, and blamed it on my father having taught me wrong (couldn't POSSIBLY be that I just was a klutz and dancing should be left to more graceful souls). I found I was suddenly thirsty, and headed for the punch bowl. After that, I moseyed out of the cafeteria (aka dance hall) and down to one of the rooms where the geeks were playing chess. Chess, I could handle.
So, for the remainder of my teen club weeks, months, and years, I mostly played chess. I figured I'd leave dancing to those who would not embarrass themselves. To this day, I still evoke roars of laughter when I dance... ask my brother Dan... he was laughing at me when I was dancing at my son's wedding last October.
What brought on this little trip through the dance halls of yesteryear? I was driving to Northern VA today, as I will be working here this week. I had the radio on to pass the time on the three hour drive, and a song came on that immediately made me feel like Pavlov's dog. The song was "Playing in a Travlin' Band." And it was all I could do to keep on driving. For every nerve of my totally klutzy self screamed at me "Dance, Dance!" Ahh, yes, the spirit is willing, but the flesh is SO weak! I managed to continue on my journey, satisfying my spirit's urge to dance with a little rhythmic finger thumping on the steering wheel. And Chris Macey's flip-top head, and his outrageously contagious laugh, jumped forward 38 years and dragged me back into that teen club when I was 13 years old.