“The job of feets is walking, but their hobby is dancing.” ― Amit Kalantri
She glided into my arms with invisible angel wings. It was a fraternity formal and The O’Jays were singing a slow song. We were “slow dancing, swaying to the music”, my arms around her waist, hers around my neck. She was a vision of loveliness in an emerald, green empire-waisted gown that complimented the deep red hair piled high on her head and the emerald, green choker around her neck. I inhaled her pheromones…perfume and stood no chance. I was smitten.
As I gazed into her blue-green eyes I noticed the freckles splashed across her nose and felt my heart squeeze. I was smitten again. I leaned in to steal a kiss, but my “second” left foot failed me, making solid contact with the instep of her high heel encased foot. I was left with duck lips kissing air as she bent over in pain.
My “feets” had failed at their hobby as badly as the relationship failed five years later. At least she left me still on my feet, staggered but standing.
Someone shared a video on social media, and I made the mistake of clicking on the “twist contest” from the movie Pulp Fiction. It wasn’t so much the dancing of John Travolta and Uma Thurmond but Chuck Berry’s “C’est La Vie” that got me “chair dancing” in my recliner. I am now one of the old folks who say, “it goes to show you never can tell.” I also dance better sitting than I do standing but that has always been the case.
I must have been in a good mood. An old song making me want to dance, even if it was in a chair. It triggered memories from a half century ago. I quickly put the redhead out of my mind and fell down a rabbit hole. Further YouTube “research” led me from thoughts of bobby socks and poodle skirts to mini-skirts and Go-Go boots and from Weejuns, starched button downs, and khaki duck trousers to lime green leisure suits and “catch me, f*ck me” shirts accessorized with gold chains.
Having two left feet didn’t bother me in my teen years that began in the early Sixties. The novel dance crazes of the day were less scripted than those practiced by the previous “Swing” generation. The “Disco” craze was still most of a decade away. We had dances with descriptive names like “The Jerk”, “The Watuzi”, “The Mashed Potato”, and the dance everyone could do, “The Twist.” I could stand in the middle of the dance floor and mimic Joe Cocker stepping on a live wire, and no one would notice.
My two left “feets” would not become an issue until the late Sixties when I thought I needed to learn how to “Shag.” The cute little blond took my hand and pulled me onto the dance floor at The Cellar as “Carolina Girls” began to play. “Come on, I’ll teach you,” she said. She got over her injuries quickly and we remained friends. There were too many nights spent at The Celler chasing the elusive female beast to the tunes of The Catalinas not to learn to shag. Ample nickel drafts didn’t help the dancing but reduced the inhibitions that tended to cripple me.
Known as “The Carolina Shag”, it is a partner dance that requires dancing in concert with another human being to what is known as “Beach Music.” No, this beach music would not include The Beach Boys or Jan and Dean. Holding her right hand with my left, we stepped in and back, did a bit of a slide with one foot and then I got lost. Twirls are involved at some point giving me the opportunity to embarrass myself further.
I got lost a lot at The Cellar in Charlotte, The Barn in Rock Hill, and during coastal retreats to The Beach Club in Myrtle Beach, just to name a few. There were frat parties and, in the Seventies, discos to also display my two left feet. In the late Seventies, the movie “Urban Cowboy” and John Travolta turned us all into cowboy hat wearing line dancers and mechanical bull riders. Riding a mechanical bull was safer.
I practiced long and hard to master the most rudimentary dance steps, sometimes with live partners, other times in the solitude of my room holding on to the doorknob to a closet door as a partner. At least a closet door has no feet to step on, but I did step in too close and received a black eye from the edge of the door for my efforts.
Disco? You are kidding, that was a death wish. I was hustled a few times but never did The Hustle. Thankfully, there was The Bump, the most fun I had had with my hips since The Twist.
It took my graduation into a new century to realize it didn’t matter. It would be 2001 before William Purkey would say, “You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching, love like you’ll never be hurt, sing like there’s nobody listening, and live like it’s heaven on earth.” It would take me a while longer to realize he was right.
Unless you are an exotic dancer it really doesn’t matter if you dance like someone electrocuted. No one really cares unless you step on their foot. Dancing doesn’t come from your feet; it comes from the heart and the music contained there. Just don’t ask me to waltz.
Side note: I once found myself on the dance floor with an exotic dancer. A very…flexible and demonstrative dancer, she danced as if she was in search of a stripper pole. She did manage to keep her clothes on and still get the attention of everyone in the venue.
The Mad Southerner’s (Don Miller’s) author’s page can be found at https://www.amazon.com/stores/Don-Miller/author/B018IT38GM?ref=ap_rdr&store_ref=ap_rdr&isDramIntegrated=true&shoppingPortalEnabled=true
His latest release is a historical romance novel, “Thunder Along the Copperhead.”