Tuesday, February 1, 2011

D is for...

D is for...dumb, drugs, dance

D is for dance...

You might remember my post about dancing and the heavenly waltz. I love to dance and I especially love to partner dance. I like to do the swing or jitterbug but you need a really good partner for that. A polka is fun and I really like to dance with those Cajuns and the waltz is one of my favorites but if I could do the tango with Antonio Banderas? Yeah, I think that would do it for me. Not that I can do the tango.

Coming of age in the time of free style where you really don't need a partner even though you ostensibly have one, partner dancing soon became a lost art. No one does it anymore. What passes for partner dancing now is clinging to one another and shuffling your feet around during the slow songs and that's really too bad. As I told one of the boy kids of one of the cousins at one of the many weddings, 'if you want to get the girls, learn how to partner dance'.

Of course, when it was my time to learn how to do that very thing, I was mortified to have to participate. Back when, as the saying goes, the young men and young ladies were instructed in the fine art of ballroom dancing. We were signed up about the age of 13 reluctantly or protestingly to further the social education befitting us.

Once a week we were herded into a big room, girls on one side and boys on the other as these things always sorted themselves out. Demonstrations were given and then we were instructed to get a partner and practice. I hated this slow torture, waiting to get picked when the boys had to pick partners though I didn't like it much better when we girls had to pick. It was just another version of gym class. The popular kids always went for each other leaving the rest of us to fumble our way through. At least I wasn't last. Skinny, curly hair, shy, always near the end but not last.

It wasn't just the dance lessons. We also joined 'dance clubs'. They had three or maybe four dances a year and everyone would go. The girls would all hang out on one side and the boys would congregate on the other. Some kids would dance but mostly we would just hang out, us girls waiting to be asked, because in 1964, '65 that's the way it worked. No one ever asked me to dance at these events starting a pattern that would last well into adulthood going to clubs with my girlfriends. But that's another story.

These dance clubs were just for junior high school kids and the last dance before you went to high school was a formal. And of course at a formal dance, you had to have a date or an 'escort' as some of us weren't allowed to 'date' yet. I was excited and scared about going. I had to ask a boy, or be asked but that didn't look like it was going to happen. I finally got up my courage and stuttered out my request to a boy I sort of secretly liked. I had one class with him. Of course, he had his own social group and already had a date. I was totally embarrassed and there was no way I was going through that again.

I really wanted to go to the dance though and time was getting short. I don't know where the idea came from. Probably my mother. My parents' best friends had a son a year older than I and our families hung out together a lot. He was 16, he was very cute in a Ricky Nelson kind of way and we were friends of a sort. And so assured that he would not turn me down, I called him up and asked him if he would take me to this dance. Which, of course, he did. I had a good time receiving the looks of disbelief on the girls faces, he was very attentive and when he brought me home he gave me a kiss.

Now that I think about it that might have been my first kiss by a boy that was not a relative. I might have kissed the paper boy though but I can't remember.

Going to that dance was one of my few small triumphs in junior high school. Not a part of the in crowd or popular group and not a part of the obvious out crowd either, I sort navigated between. But wasn't I the center of attention by all the cool girls who wanted to know who that was I was with at the dance and was he my boyfriend. I said as little as possible and just smiled knowingly. It was an easy fiction to maintain as school was almost out for the summer and as it happened, our families spent a lot of time at our beach house so I saw a lot of Chico that summer and the next. But we were really ever only friends. And that was better I think.

*photo - my 15 year old self and first official 'date' at my first 'formal'.

check out those gloves!


  1. Oh look at you! You're gorgeous! Love the dress & gloves.

    Boy I would have been in serious trouble if I'd had to take dance lessons. I have about 4 left feet. And NO rhythm. Sigh. I remember in gym class we did square dancing. Oh the humanity!

  2. You're a babe! And you look so happy.

    Of course you love to dance - of course you do!

  3. Oh Ellen, I love this post. Such a tender tale of teen years. (It could have been T is for..) ;) What a beautiful girl. :)

  4. Wow - that picture sure takes my breath away - so beautiful Ellen.

    I wonder if you still have the dress. It is a classic. :) lovely.

  5. Ellen~ What a lovely post! Hubby wanted to know what was making me smile so! I had to share♥ He thinks I am a dork with my blog and blog reading.
    You look beautiful. I love the dress!

  6. Hahaha. That's cute.

    I'm a fan of partner dancing myself. But I must say I lack any talent for it.


  7. What a wonderful post. And you are so beautiful in your long gloves and pretty formal frock. Brought back some similar things from that age for me as well. I still have the dance cards that we had at the dancing class graduation dance. It was also scary and weird at that age. I too love to partner dance and so does SM. He is great at polka, jitterbug and waltz. He sucks at the two step and "bar dancing" though. Oh well. What a great post. Yay for the oldies but goodies huh???? the music not us. tee hee, The Olde Bagg, Linda

  8. I love this post. I always enjoyed couples dancing in school too, but there were so few of the boys who were willing. Thank God, for Denny. He was the one guy in our class, all through jr high and high school, who loved to dance and even though he was a cool guy, he usually didn't have a steady girlfriend, so he danced with all of us. Hubby-to-be was one of the boyfriends who stood along the wall at the dances and hung out -- just happy that Denny was willing to dance the fast dances with all their girlfriends. :) Congrat on POTW!

  9. Your gloves are fab!

    My teens it was all about "solo" dancing - but I remember being in awe of my folks taking to the dance floor and jiving!

    And of course "Learning How To Belly Dance" is on my To Do List.

  10. Arghh, you look fab as your 15 yr old self :) I love to dance too but fear I have two left feet. Unless I'm drunk and then I feel like my moves are top class!!

  11. You looked fabulous!!! And what a great story about Chico! Loved it!
    And those are some serious gloves.
    Congrats on your POTW!!!

  12. ooooweee you've got presence at the age of fiteen!!! steven

  13. Beautiful!

    Ah, the waltz! Any one can steal my heart if they can waltz.

  14. Great post!Terrific tale of teens :)

  15. Congrats on POTW!!

    I so related to this post as I was brought up exactly the same way, taking dance classes in school and in clubs, lining up on either side of the ballroom, the whole ball of wax. Frankly, I loved it. And I wasn't one of the really popular kids, but I loved all the pomp and circumstance... even the long gloves and hoop skirts.

    Great post.

  16. Oh those awkward teenage days! How well you describe them - congratulations on your POTW and thanks for that spectacular tango clip!

  17. the 15 year old you is beautiful
    my goodness, what a tiny waist!

    they say partner dancing is returning thanks to shows like Dancing With the Stars, I hope so

    congrats on POTW

  18. Ellen, I love that story and the dress is very pretty. I like that you got to go with a handsome escort. He sounds like a real nice boy. Fun to keep those other girls guessing. I somehow ended up at a "mixer" in a white and gold flapper dress and a cute, dark haired boy asked me to dance which I didn't really know how to do. It was the instrumental version of "Summer Place" and it still gives me a little shiver when I hear the music and think of that dance.

  19. Wow - talk about style!

  20. I can't believe that that pretty girl in the photo didn't have boys falling over themselves trying to date her.

    You have reminded me of my own dancing lessons time; there's a nice post in there for me too. Thanks for reminding me.

  21. You looked beautiful in your gown and gloves, loved it. Loved your post,,, keep dancing. hugs.

  22. Oh, I loved this so much-- Looks at your sweet 15 year old self. You're beautiful.

    As for Antonio-- Now THAT'S what I call Dancing With The Stars.

    Congrats on your POTW from Hilary.

    Cheers, jj

  23. What a great story, the picture is beautiful... hard to believe you weren't in the "in-crowd"!

    Oh, the art of partner dancing and formals seems to be lost... not that I was ever one to participate :-(

  24. What a great post...it brought me back down memory lane of learning to dance at school and my own school dances. You looked absolutely gorgeous! Congratulations on POTW at Hilary's! Very well deserved!

  25. Gosh! Wasn't it great to have a "win" over the girls who didn't appreciate fully the wonderful person that you are? Suh-weet!!!

    Congratulations on being chosen for post of the week! I enjoyed reading your post very much!

  26. You were adorable - what did those stupid boys know?

    I remember those days - ghaaa - it is nice that people can just go dance now, I think. Although I love to partner dance.

  27. I was brought up in a church where dancing was of the devil, so I didn't. A few years ago, we did get into line dancing, which can be quite demanding and fun, and I liked it. As for true dancing, I guess I will have to reincarnated to get around to it.

    The AC is On

  28. Congratulations on your POTW at Hilary's place. Very deserving, IMHO.

    I dance like a drunken gorilla. And drunken gorillas the world over take offense at that description.

  29. I checked out the gloves... and everything else... and I think that Antonio would definitely do the Tango with someone with that smile; I know I would.

    I love dancing and as you already know most Latin dances (my native dances) are done with a partner. I can dance for hours;m there is something about moving your body at the beat of a tune while spinning around with someone you care about that make the world look REALLY amazing. Even if he is just a friend...

  30. I can't understand why you didn't have tons of guys asking you to the dance! You were gorgeous! You just grew up in the wrong place! I went to my first dance with a boy, in kindergarten! You know that the Cajuns start dancing when they're very young and dance until they're very old!


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