Just two weeks now till this blog and Mrs Blog make their ballroom dancing debut on holiday in Barbados (see blog no.4). Whether anyone else present will be able to tell, or whether they will simply believe we are holding each other up after a particularly enjoyable evening, is another matter.
The progress we have made through our lessons with heroic Alex at East Sussex Dance since last autumn – hard won but even harder to spot – demonstrates that there’s lies, damn lies and “you’re doing really, really well”. Mere saints, Alex, never had this much patience.
I’m aware at an intellectual level that I’m supposed to “glide” through my waltz steps, but I’ve always seen myself as more of a “hiker”, my pedal extremities more suited to freestyle combat than artistic interpretation. I’m learning to count one-two-side-together without my lips moving and there are moments when I could convince myself that something approximating to a dance step might be on the horizon. But then someone insists on turning the music on and spoiling everything. If what we’re doing really is called a social foxtrot, then I wouldn’t want to be around for an unsocial one. When I’m halfway through my promenade, Mrs Blog is still in the middle of her rock turn – I mean, what’s that about? And I just know, deep down, that it’s Mrs Blog who should be spinning under my arm, and not the other way round.
I have been described on one occasion as the poor man’s Bruce Forsyth, if viewed in poor light. Or was it Louie Spence? In truth I have long suspected that it may be Mrs Blog that’s holding me back – though she has been known to mutter in her defence, “Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, backwards and in high heels.”
Mrs Blog has, it is true, mastered the bit where she has to turn her head away from mine and gaze into the distance across my right shoulder as if keeping an eye out for the bus, but I think that’s more to do with something I ate just before the lesson.
Don’t even ask about the jive. If the kids could do this stuff way back in the 50s when they apparently all suffered from rickets despite drinking nothing but milk shakes, what’s the matter with me?
Blog and Mrs Blog attempt a particularly ambitious waltz variation immediately before their visit to A&E
Perhaps our greatest (there’s an impressive list to choose from) shortcoming is in respect of “floor management” or “floorcraft” which, if I understand correctly, is the ability to navigate one’s way around the dance floor without inflicting irreparable damage on oneself, one’s partner or others unfortunate enough to be trying to occupy nearby space. Mrs Blog has never really bought into the concept of the man “leading”, so a good deal of negotiation is involved when approaching anything that resembles a corner or obstacle, as a result of which we, as a couple, have a turning circle not unlike that of a medium sized oil tanker. We have attempted to practise some of the handling manoeuvres more usually observed in the middle of the English Channel within the confines of our lounge at home but found it unfit for purpose and were obliged to relocate to the cul de sac outside, where we caused considerable concern to neighbours and passing dog walkers.
Well, it will all come out in the wash on a warm May evening at the edge of the sea in Oistins, Barbados, as we challenge the skills of my orthopaedic surgeon and strut our best moves to the strains of old musicals and hits from the middle of the last century. Avid readers of my previous dance based blog will no doubt recall that they were sworn to secrecy about our efforts, lest the chums who are holidaying with us should find out. They are, it will be remembered, to ballroom dancing what Roald Amundsen was to polar exploration – except they’re very much alive of course, so probably not a good comparison.
Circumstances have, however, changed. Eventually we decided that the tension involved in not letting them know that we were planning to upstage them on holiday in the terpsichorean arts was just too much. The sad realisation dawned that, in reality, it was more than likely that they would greet our best endeavours with the words, “Hey, it’s great that you’re not embarrassed to get up on the dance floor! Have you thought of taking lessons?” So we’ve broken it to them and you must feel free to share this with them – I don’t care. At least it will mean there will be friends present on our debut who can tell us (if Alex isn’t available on Skype at the time) what to dance to which tune, when to start and which foot to kick off with. Youtube was made for nights like this.
Meanwhile, holiday preparations continue. Mrs Blog has invested in special dancing shoes with small heels which will, apparently, make all the difference to her success. A bit like me applying Lynx when young.
A small part of Mrs Blog’s dance wardrobe for the holiday. From the Per Una line at M&S.
Much of Mrs Blog’s other holiday clothes stuff from M&S has gone back a few times for swaps but I managed to plead “other commitments” and enthusiastically creosoted the fence. Anyone out there need their fence doing? I’m always available – free of charge – on shopping days.