Writing From the Right Side of the Stall

Carefully curated musings about the writing life, horses, bitterness and crushing career disappointment. Fun, right?

No Tango For You

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Git along, little dogies.

I spent New Year’s Eve much the way I spend most evenings these days: teaching children (and occasionally adults) to pilot ponies. In addition to my freelance clients (most of whom, mercifully, can steer), I herd cats (by which I mean the beginner students, whose steering is hit or miss) at two different lesson barns. You know. It’s a living.

Being as it was New Year’s Eve, I had a fair number of no-shows, and I ended up heading home a little earlier than planned. I was scanning Sirius XM radio channels as I drove, and most of them seemed to be observing the year’s end by cranking up various flavours of party tunes — 70s on one channel, polka (aren’t all polkas party tunes? — asking for a friend) on another, Death Metal par-tay, Broadway party, all Phish All The Time dance tunes. Hey, there are something like 300 channels on the damn service…

And as certain holidays are structured explicitly to make you feel like a ratshit loser if you’re alone (see also: Valentine’s Day), I was mostly thinking as I channel-surfed, that I really miss dancing.

I think the last time I danced for any length of time was at a friend’s wedding in Bermuda, some seven or eight years ago. And by dancing, I’m talking a good DJ, a decent sized dancefloor, stiletto heels that flay six layers of epidermis right off your feet but you don’t care, and getting a really nice and probably sparkly outfit indecently sweaty. Having just enough alcohol in your system to lower your inhibitions a smidge, yet not impact your coordination, is important (as mentioned previously, I’m a cheap date, so one Screwdriver is generally sufficient). As is music that washes over you, thuds pleasantly through your nervous system and your bone marrow, is a fair bit too loud, and is so familiar that you can sing along until you are too out of breath to do so.

One of the likely reasons I haven’t danced in years is that the music seems to have moved on without me. I have limited enthusiasm for what’s currently offered in most clubs, which is mostly an unrelenting beat that goes on for hours at a time, minus lyrics or bridges or anything sans AutoTune. (I loathe AutoTune with the white-hot intensity of a thousand suns. I mean, if you need this thing because you can’t carry a tune, why the fuck are you even calling yourself a singer?) I’m outing myself on the creeping decrepitude thing by admitting that I’d rather dance to what is probably now considered ‘oldies’ (does that include the 90s, I wonder?). And short of weddings, DJs who’ll spin that sort of thing are the exception rather than the rule. If you encounter such a DJ, you probably also have to suffer the fucking Chicken Dance and the Hokey Fuckity Pokey. Quite a price to pay if you ask me.

I also have a long-standing phobia about being the oldest person in a club, something that has been a problem since sometime back in the previous century. In addition, it’s hard (though not impossible – see: lowering inhibitions, above) to engage fully with the music on a solo basis … much easier with an enthusiastic dance partner. And we all know how accessible those are if you’re of a hetero persuasion.

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Like so many white dudes, my Ex pretty much refused to dance with me. Talk about sucking the joy right out of the room. Back in my 30s, when I lived in Bermuda for a year, I used to go clubbing at least two or three nights a week. There was a place called the Oasis, in downtown Hamilton, which had two rooms, one of which usually placed electronic music and the other of which played 80s and 90s rock (more to my taste even then). It would get cranked up about 10:30 or 11 at night, go till 2:30 a.m., and then after last call pretty much everyone on the island would spill out of there and head to the Ice Queen, which was open till stupid o’clock, for a cone. How wholesome is that? I remember rows of happily disheveled people of all sexes, with makeup half-melted off their faces, sitting on the curbs and slurping soft-serve while the tree frogs chorused from just beyond the parking lot. (Mind you there have been a couple of shootings there over the years. Not everyone emerged from Oasis as sober as I usually was.)

The actual Ice Queen, earlier. Or later, actually, since this was probably taken sometime AFTER 1995.

So. No dancing this New Years’ Eve, unless you count a few minutes of horribly undignified booty dancing in my truck, to Earth, Wind and Fire’s “Shining Star” (thanks, 70s Rewind channel’s “Cassette Era” dance party). I may still have some moves, but you should be grateful you didn’t see that.

I’d just like to say: Piss off, 2021, and don’t let the door hit you in the booty on your way out.

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2 thoughts on “No Tango For You

  1. I hear you loud and clear. I miss dancing too. Hubby is a great guy – but that is NOT one of his strengths! Was in bed and asleep before 9 last night. Sigh.

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  2. My husband doesn’t dance. Well, I should probably rephrase that. He LIKES to dance, but he sucks at dancing. So I spent years doing everything I could to avoid the inevitable invite that would come at every social occasion after he’d had a drink or two. “No, not really.” ” I don’t like this song.” ” I need to visit the ladies room.” I lived in fear of having to actually go out on the dance floor with him.

    Several years into this routine we attended the wedding of good friends. They had a competent DJ who was spinning great dance tunes and it wasn’t long before I got the dreaded invite. I declined, so he went found some other clueless victim to stand in for me. A mutual friend at our table turned to me and asked if I didn’t like to dance? No, that wasn’t the problem, I explained. Just look at him out there. (Cringe) She laughed and explained that her husband couldn’t dance for beans either, but nobody cares. “Go dance with him,” she said. “You’ll make him so happy. ”

    Well, it turns out she was right. Nobody cared and it made him very happy. Many, many, many moons later, some nights we dance together in our living room. His dancing isn’t any better than it was back then, but it makes him happy and I don’t care.

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