I have been told, Gentle Reader, that every gentleman should learn to waltz. Broadly speaking, I think that everyone ought to. I was certainly very excited when I signed up for lessons. My friend Miss Thrush had urged me to; or else I urged her. I have trouble keeping track, when it’s the two of us; we’re both gingers and we share a birthday. At any rate, one or the other of us signed up for lessons and needed a partner, and then talked the other into joining.
We had both been to the Abbey Ballroom a time or two, for various functions. As the name suggests, it’s an old church, and hideously expensive to rent. The lessons were quite reasonable, though, and local. We parked next to some broken concrete steps leading to an empty lot, shrugged, and crossed the street to the Abbey.
Well, we were the youngest couple there by about forty years. No matter. I was a trifle cocky, having learned a very basic facsimile of a waltz, years before in theatre. It did not take long to reveal that I didn’t know the first thing about waltzing – but neither did Miss Thrush. By the end of the evening, we both had a shaky understanding of the form – which is far more complicated than you think it is – and homework. I was to improve both my posture and stride; do certain exercises to help with balance, coordination, and timing; stop being pigeon-toed.
I hadn’t realized that I was until I had to stop.
The next week, Miss Thrush had another engagement, alas, but at the last moment I was able to rope Miss Spectacular into joining me. She had a more solid background in dancing, but wasn’t entirely familiar with the intricacies involved. She joined me for two or three lessons; by the end of a few weeks, we had mastered something called the Rotating Box.
After dancing, we’d go get drinks at a charming little jazz bar called Sax, which offered live music and jazz-themed drinks – the Ella Fitzgerald was particularly good. Over drinks, we’d gossip about the other dancers – David and Myrne, incidentally – or our friends, and discuss the exercises we’d been given. We only kept it up for a few weeks, Gentle Reader, because I ended up breaking a toe – but on those nights when we danced, I could have danced all night!