… and Still Don’t
[A Bit About Dancing]
By Jeff Salter
This week, we’re all about dancing, dances, and/or anything which happened whilst so employed.
Well, I’ve never been very graceful, but I’ve done a lot of dancing over the years.
The first I recall was in 4th grade, in the gym — during broad daylight — though I can’t recall the occasion. Seems like it was just all the fourth graders let loose during school hours… so I guess the teachers had a meeting or something. Don’t recall anything about the music, but there were several girls I liked. Couldn’t get up the nerve to ask any to dance, however. Finally a girl I knew climbed up the bleachers and grabbed my hand, which was the universal signal for “let’s dance.” I followed her down to the gym floor and did my best to shift weight from one foot to the other, while wondering if my hands were in the right places.
After that song was over, without saying a word, I just went back to my seat.
Several tunes later, when the next slow dance started, I climbed down the bleachers and took her hand… and led her to the gym floor. No longer remember her name.
Beginning the next year — fifth grade — I was invited to a lot of parties which featured dancing… along with games like spin the bottle. By that point, I was totally in love with R.B. and did my best to get the bottle to stop in her proximity. We also danced, though my technique had not improved very much.
Over the next couple of years, there were more parties and I finally stepped beyond the slow dance — I learned (or I should say I learned to pretend I was doing) the twist, the limbo, and a few other dances I no longer recall.
Eventually I went — stag, of course — to my first official sock-hop in seventh grade. Danced with several girls, as I recall, including A.K. and R.B. By then I had studied an etiquette book and learned that the proper overture was, “May I have this dance?”
[I was oh so polite!]
The following year, eighth grade, I actually invited R.B. to the spring prom. Got her a flower and the whole nine yards. Still only danced the slow songs… and still too shy to speak to her beyond that entreaty to leave the table and hit the dance floor.
For more on my early love life, including this prom, see my account in this link:
Don’t recall any dancing in 9th grade, but not sure why.
In tenth, I was a stranger in a different school — several hundred miles north — and I went stag to an informal dance or two, where I hit the floor a couple of times with a couple of girls I knew. If I attended their prom, I went stag.
By the time I returned to my former town and began eleventh grade, I had learned to cope with my anxieties about dancing and was able to force myself onto the floor for just about any song that I liked. With several different girls, I went to several dances, proms, formals, etc., in various places… including a local country club, the rival high school, the local girl’s (Catholic) school, a pavilion on the parish fairgrounds, and (of course) our own gym.
Except for my first two years of college, I haven’t danced much since then…
Are YOU a big dancer?
Great dancing stories! I wasn’t big on school dances – and well, short of dancing around the house when I’m cleaning, I’m still not big on dances! 🙂
It’s easy to be extremely self-conscious about some activity when you have no idea what you’re doing or how to do it.
Since you bring up the Twist and others, my sister was a teenager and taught me The Twist, the Pony and a few others, but I only Twist-ed in public..apparently I was pretty good and one time I was not shy about dancing, (or much of anything), in public…the second time, now that I think about it. .I can still do a fair Mashed Potatoes!
I don’t recall how any of the other dances “went” though I do recall those names … and more. One was called the FRUG
Dances, especially when young, always seemed awkward to me. It was a little sad, too. No one in the 8th grade can dance, and putting all the kids in the gym expecting them to do so was just cruel and unusual punishment. I was in drill team in High School. We danced a lot. And even though I could dance a perfect choreographed dance, free-styling it was still awkward. Didn’t really care to go to dance clubs as a young adult, either. Nowadays, it doesn’t bother me as much. Maybe because I’m at that stage in life where I don’t really care what others think. You know…like that time a grabbed Nora Roberts to join me on the dance floor..and she DID!
I remember, Jenn, that you danced a jig with Dame Nora. I thought that was very gutsy. If it had been me asking her, she’d probably have slapped my face!
UN-BE-LIEV-ABLE how you remember these things … grade 4 … OMG. Loved I thought how you were able to add in the spin the bottle story … LOL …
yes, it’s interesting how many things I remember from childhood … and with such detail. Of course, I also remember that there were many MORE experiences that I used to remember … and now only recall that I used to remember them. Make sense?
You ask if I’m a big dancer. You know you’ve already read about my exploits with my love of dancing. 😉
I loved your trip down memory lane, which sounded like just about every man I’ve ever known. I had my first real boyfriend in fifth grade, too. Well, as real as it could be for the 5th grade. LOL! He gave me a box of candy on Valentine’s Day that year, if I remember correctly. I learned – years later – he committed suicide. 😥
I left several gifts for my young sweetheart. Still too shy to speak to her or give them in person, I’d leave them on her doorstep and run.
LOL! Silly boy. :))