It's not that my husband never dances. For example, when we were waiting at a bus stop on Princes Street after the Archbishop's Christmas party, B.A. began to whistle "Singing in the Rain" and then seized me in his manly arms and began to waltz. It was indeed raining, and it was freezing cold, and Edinburgh Castle loomed above, and a woman standing near us smirked, and I suppose it was all very romantic.
However, my husband refuses to go to dance class or dances because he is sure he would be bored. This disappointed me at first because when I first met B.A. in person he took me to a ceilidh (pron. KAY-lee) at the Assembly Rooms on George Street and gave every impression of a man who loves to dance. He had claimed to love the Dashing White Sergeant more than any other dance as if he was fond of them all. However, I reflected that husbands are famous for giving up dancing, theatre, going out, etc., etc., the minute you put a ring on their finger, so I accepted his surprising lost of interest as a fact of married life.
Meanwhile, it is not like I am a tremendous fan of social dancing after my various hideous forays into salsa classes, tango classes, Irish dance classes, and even belly-dance classes. However, as I always treated these classes as a way to meet new people, I agreed to go to Edinburgh swing classes with a friend so she could meet new people.
"Oh no," I thought during Class 1. "This is soooo embarrassing. And I have to touch strange men. Ugh. And they get to touch me. Bleah. And this one is already sweaty and smelly. And I have absolutely no idea where my feet should be."
But I smiled. The only way to survive social dancing is to smile gaily, apologize for mistakes, and tell your dance partner he was marvellous or that you have it now, thank you so much. Rather like dancing itself, you have to fake it till you make it, "it" being a beeline for the door.
However, I noticed the last time I went to swing class that it wasn't terrible, and that the latest male instructor made dancing look relaxed and fun, and that seeing how popular my youngest protegée was, was a delight to my maternal soul. And then on Sunday, one of the altar servers mentioned that he had also been going to swing, only on the nights I had bunked off, and thought it was fun.
I goggled at this news. If the altar server and I went to class at the same time, one of the men I danced with would be someone I actually know and like. And if he went to the dance, I stood a very good chance of being asked to dance by someone I actually know and like. Meanwhile, my youngest protegée piped up that there as going to be a live swing band, and suddenly I found myself looking forward to swing night.
"Both classes and the social, please" said I to the doorkeeper for the very first time. And although none of my protegées or altar server acquaintances turned up, I enjoyed class tolerably well. And then, despite some clumsiness and daydreaming when I ought to have been paying attention, I enjoyed the next class almost as much. I was glad when it was over, though, and would have skipped the social had the live band not arrived.
"I shall stay until ten," I decided, sitting all alone in my best blue dress, and then my youngest protegée turned up after all. What a relief!
And then, to my surprise, for the altar server never turned up, I was asked to dance. And then I was asked to dance again. I may have been asked to dance as often as my youngest protegée. Naturally, I was terrible, but one nimble-footed fellow actually asked me to dance again, which was incredibly kind of him. I mean that quite literally. But one of the rules of social dancing is that old hands should be kind and ask for dances with, or accept dance invitations from, clumsy newbies, for this is the only way newbies will improve.
It was a good band, and I enjoyed watching the best dancers dance when I myself was not dancing. Sometimes I liked it better. During one of my dances, I was thrown around so much that my perma-grin was hiding the thought "I hate this sooooo much." However, while watching my dance instructor of two weeks ago, I remembered for the first time how much I loved dancing in high school. This dancing was never more sophisticated than the twist, but I really loved it. When I was old enough to get in, I loved dancing at clubs, too.
Then I thought: "Wait! Maybe that is the whole point of all this. The point is to get good enough to recapture the enjoyment I had dancing at high school dances."
And then I thought: "This is the first time in my life I have gone to dance class to get better at dancing." I stuck with ballet because of my ballet friends. I signed up for ballroom as a present for a dancing fiancé. I went to swing and salsa and swing again to meet people. I went to belly dance to... Actually, I cannot remember why on earth I went to belly dance. And lately I have been going to swing dance to be company for others.
And now I think, "Is this what singleheartedness is about?"
Singleheartedness, if I have this right, is when you enjoy something for its own sake and not as a means to something else. And now I am determined to enjoy swing for its own sake because it looks like fun and is currently a little fun and will become very fun when I can do it properly.
Which thought leads me back to B.A., for the best way to improve at dancing is to have a lead at your command to practice with. But alas! He is not interested.
That said, he was waiting to fetch me from the bus stop last night, and he had baked a chicken pie.