‘Tis true. Don your body armour and stout, protective footwear, set aside any aesthetic considerations – for the wife vet and I have been tripping the boards.
So, tell us, Steve, what has brought you to this plight?
Well, blog, how long have you got? It’s all down to a regular Friday night event on the sunkissed tropical isle of Barbados. In the coastal town of Oistins both Bajans and visitors gather to devour locally sourced fish, seafood and macaroni pie beneath the stars, followed by a stroll through the craft stalls and al fresco partying to the strains of impressive sound systems. But, hidden around the back from about 10pm, something special comes to pass. To the strains of sixties pop and old show tunes coming from one of the many bars at the edge of the sand, a happy throng begins to dance – ballroom style.
For several visits now, the head of the household and I have stood, watching like wallflowers from the sidelines, as people of all ages and abilities – locals and tourists alike – partner up for freestyle foxtrotting, slow waltzing and cha cha chaing late into the night (well, past respectable cocoa time anyway). Whenever the octogenarian with the dreadlocks and the slow but intricate footwork has advanced, wearing his battered fedora, to ask the wife for a dance, she has shied away for fear of embarrassment, having as many left feet as I do myself.
One day, we said, that could be us strutting our stuff. One day.
Well, this is the year! We’re taking a couple with us in May, our very good friends from Marple, who have been ballroom dancing at a serious, almost “Strictly”, level for, like, ever. Why don’t we, said the wife in one of her less rational moments, surprise them by taking lessons but not telling them, then joining them on the dance floor at Oistins?
Sankersblog to internet chatroom forum thingy: Is there a thing you can click on for the next paragraph which will prevent it being seen in Marple?
Because, thing is, we’re now in our second term with Alex of East Sussex Dance and haven’t yet broken any essential limbs. Enjoying it? Of course we are, though it feels a bit like watching my team at Wembley: you’re thrilled to be there amongst friendly, likeminded people and will celebrate wildly if it all comes off, but our own performance is a tad tense and chaotic when it’s actually happening.
Is there a stage when you stop counting the steps out loud and no longer have to undergo frank negotiations with your partner each time you need to make a turn? When you can count yourself in without the help of the instructor? When an observant bystander could spot the difference between your New York and your promenade?
Alex, dear, patient Alex, can this blog apologise for the mind numbing repetition of our errors and shortcomings? We may still be making the same number of mistakes as we did when we started but they’re now at a higher level, and we’re surely making fewer trips to A&E. How is it that you manage to smile so bravely as we stumble from one terpsichorean insult to another, like John Sergeant or Ann Widdecombe essaying a particularly ambitious triple Salchow? And how do you retain such sang froid at my insistence on inserting an improbable hop into my spin turns?
Just two months to go now till we make our debut at Oistins. I’ll keep you posted. But first, Alex, if you can’t actually come with us, can you at least be available that night on Skype to count us in and tell us which dance goes with which tune?