-Dancing Years set–
After penning the above caption to these snatches I wanted to write in response to side view’s weekend theme ‘Dance’, I found it rang a bell and discovered it was the title of a most successful wartime musical of Ivor Novello. It was set during a period when dance at all levels had a far greater part to play in the lives of most people, from the ballrooms to dance halls and from burlesque to ballet, than is the case today.
Admittedly, these days a lot of interest in dance has been revived. This is thanks mainly to Strictly Come Dancing and similar shows on television; and also to stage shows like ‘Riverdance’. In addition, things like Line Dancing have taken on popularity. Nevertheless, there still isn’t the same opportunity there used to be for exploiting such interests by having an evening out where one can dance by doing much more than stand in one place and wiggle.
I recall with nostalgia a time when it used to be part of normal life to attend a formal black-tie ball a few times a year and have a roomful of people all doing a very passable job on not only the foxtrot, but dances such as the waltz, tango, samba, rumba, quickstep, and cha-cha-cha (with jive and rock-and-roll and the twist thrown in to liven things up, but not as the main course).
Also, at private parties and wedding receptions a good deal of ‘formal’ dancing happened. At our reception Much Better Half sabotaged us by grabbing her train in the wrong hand so I tripped over it on our first (solo) waltz, to the considerable amusement of the throng of clapping guests and to our own embarrassment.
Not that I was too good a dancer at the best of times. I remember my discomfort when, at a very posh ball in Johannesburg, there was an elimination dance and we wound up as the last couple and took the prize. With eyes of the whole roomful of ‘awl the verray best people, may deah’ types upon us, I was just hoping I wouldn’t take any silly steps!
One had to learn to rock-and-roll, of course, and I wasn’t too bad at that. Daughter as teenager was mortified when, with Much Better Half out of the running with an injury, I took the former on the floor for a competition dance – with me snarling instructions at her as to when and how to twirl. We won; you’d think she would have been pleased instead of furious!
I remember with fondness an evening when a dynamic friend organised a large party at which everyone was required to learn, and do, the Scottish Reel as a group. Quite complex, but enormous fun when one got the hang of it.
Opportunities or not, there is something of the artistry of dance in most of us, and I think ways and means will always be found to express it. The dancing years will stay with us in one way or another.
© May 2011 Colonialist (Letterdash/Wordpress)