Sunday, August 2, 2009

So You Think You Can Dance?

My husband, friends and I stood at the edges of the dance floor Friday night at the Spanish Ballroom at Glen Echo Park with tentative, somewhat queasy smiles on our faces. Forcing bravado, I said, "Let's do it. Let's get on the floor." A friend replied, "Well we are. Once we figure out what to do out there." Oh, that's easy, I thought, in my newfound brazen dancer mode. Because I could cut a mean country-western swing in my Tucson college days, I assumed conquering the group contra would be as easy as a promenade and a dosey do. Wrong.  "No your other left," one man said as he tried to get my arm into the square-circle configuration as I marched to the right. "Now spin!" Right, spin. Struggling to keep moving, keeping left from right, spinning the woman in the middle, now the other guy, now my husband, now line up, stomp stomp stomp, I felt rivulets of sweat trickling down my back, which were quickly flowing into a river. My friends were lost in the crowd. I was dizzy and short of breath. Ecstatic, red-faced and dripping, we twirled to meet the next couple. My husband and I had gone from two spastic stiffs on the sidelines to two dancers among many merged in the graceful kaleidoscope that was contra dance at the (un-air-conditioned) Spanish Ballroom. Our group, first-timers there for a birthday, loved it and is going back--early, 7:30 sharp, for the lesson. For $9 we get to leave our dancing insecurities behind, burn a couple hundred calories and "dance like the dickens" as Joe Ely would say. (Click here to see full lyrics and play the song. Though they didn't play it on contra night, which isn't country swing, Ely's "West Texas Waltz" is one of my all-time dance faves and perfectly captures the spirit of the night.)

Dancing in the Spanish Ballroom, photo courtesy of Bruce Douglas
(from the website)

1 comment:

  1. It was indeed a swirl of color, motion, and joyful movement -- with not just a few beads of sweat thrown in. What a vibrant scene! Definitely not your fifth-grade square dance.