I’ve driven by the place hundreds of times, tucked away in a modest strip of stores. But I never entered. I never knew what happened within those walls. The other night I found out.
Yes, I had an invitation to try ballroom dancing. In that little nondescript building, I found a world I didn’t know existed.
I met my friends Helen and Penny in the parking lot. They both looked beautiful, with pretty skirts aflutter. Helen brought gold dance shoes with high heels and a strap across the instep.
We climbed a stairway to a good-sized studio above. The room, with its wood floors, was softly lit. In one corner, a band started playing with a Frank Sinatra-like crooner singing, “Fly Me to the Moon.”
My God. It was like I’d gone back to an early 60’s cocktail party with my grandmother. Nana loved a good time, bopping her tiny frame to Dean Martin and Jack Jones. Where were the Rob Roys and Vodka Gimlets?
I hadn’t worn a dress, let alone a swingy skirt, in ages. I have to admit, it was fun feeling “girlie” again. My husband Randy has two bad knees. He was happy to sit this night out.
Helen, Penny and I stood with wine glasses in hand, watching dancers glide by. Some were obvious beginners, like me. Others were as smooth as that silky-voiced singer.
Men walked around, holding out hands in invitation. I felt like I was back in junior high. Would I be asked? And then… bingo.
The handsome Russian owner glided up to me. My heart did a jump as he led me onto the floor. We did the Swing, so easy, even I could pick it up fast. He even twirled me a few times. Ooh la la!
For the next hour, Helen, Penny and I took turns tripping the light fantastic. There were young men, barely in their twenties. There were middle-aged guys and even several elderly gentlemen navigating around.
I soon learned when the music starts, you don’t start moving like a crazed school girl. You wait, one hand on the male’s shoulder, the other clasping his other hand. The men start. You follow. (I’m not sure what it says about me, but I had to recalibrate my brain to do this.)
At one point, I was dancing with this graceful Asian man, and realized I was glad I said, “Yes,” to this event. I’m glad I didn’t give into my usual lazy, introverted self.
And that’s when I realized something else: some of the best things happen when you say, “Yes.” You never know what portal you’ll walk through leading to other worlds – meeting a significant person, seeing something different, learning a new skill. There’s sometimes magic in the word, “Yes.”
Halfway through the evening, lights came on. Women lined up on one wall. Men faced us against the opposite. We were soon paired with the partner across the way.
I danced with a nice man with an accent. I asked where he was from and he replied, “Iran.” As we attempted the Foxtrot, I couldn’t help ask what he thought of the travel ban, enacted a few days earlier. Airports were in chaos. Iran was on the list of banned countries.
Surprisingly, his face lit up. He said he was sad for the ban, but cheered by so many Americans protesting. He’s lived in this country over twenty years. He runs a local Subway franchise. “I’m proud to live here,” he said. “Its my home.”
Our song ended. We nodded our goodbyes. Funny, what you can learn about someone on the dance floor.
I did a few more rounds, but after two hours was ready to go. Surprisingly, my feet didn’t hurt.
I hugged Helen and Penny goodbye. Feeling like Cinderella leaving the ball, I exited down the stairs to the sultry lyrics of, “Witchcraft.”
…’Cause it’s witchcraft, wicked witchcraft
And although, I know, it’s strictly taboo…
I came into the chilly night. And that’s when I realized this event had indeed been a portal into another world — an escape from CNN, Twitter, and Facebook. Problems had been forgotten.
Everything was up-tempo and cool. Women wore gold shoes and swirly skirts.
And just when you start looking wistfully to those other couples swirling by, a man holds out his hand. “Would you like to dance?” he asks.
You can’t help but smile. “Yes, I would.”
Have you tried ballroom dancing? Comments are always welcome and if you’d like to share, feel free!
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