Monday, August 3, 2009

Something Old and New

ROBERTA: My brother- and sister-in-law have never been dancers. But when their oldest daughter announced her engagement, they decided to change that. They began to take group lessons at an Arthur Murray studio, whose instructors briefed them on the basics of the hustle, the waltz, and the foxtrot. When their skills didn't improve to their satisfaction, they switched to another studio and began private lessons. They raved about Laurent Mullen, their new instructor, and the wheels in my mind began to whir.

John and I took 3 dancing lessons before we were married and the nuptials nearly didn't take place as a result. We were a dancing disaster, I told my in-laws' instructor, once I'd persuaded my husband to give it another go.
"What seemed to be the problem?" Laurent inquired (pictured at left.)
"He has no rhythm," I said, pointing to my hubby, "and I'm unable to let him lead."
"Okay," he said to John. "I can't help you once you leave the studio, but while you're in here, you're the boss."
And with that, we signed on for a package of ten lessons and have been dancing ever since. Triple step, triple step, back step, we count as we circle and I twirl to the tune of "Build me up, Buttercup." It's the only song we really shine at, but good for our brains and good for the marriage, we both agree.

How about you, Jungle Reds? Any plans to try something new?

HALLIE: Jerry (my sweet husband) agreed to go to ballroom dancing lessons with me as a birthday present, ACK, two decades ago. Like John and Roberta, Jerry didn't know how to lead and I didn't know how to follow...but we learned. It's (almost) the most fun we have together. We also got back from a trip to Tuscany and learned to make pasta together.

Plans now to try something new? I want to learn to drive a Segway.

RO:'s always some wedding. We said yes to the dancing lessons for my stepson's wedding. It's hard for me to describe my husband's dancing style without being politically incorrect. It's not quite as bad as Billy Crystal once described his own style ("white man's overbite"...just imagine it..) Our instructor, Peter, was a large man, but very light on his feet. I was reminded of a scene from a Disney movie with hippos in tutus. But I digress. Bruce tried very hard and we did have a few non-spaz moments. Thank goodness everyone we know is either already married or never planning to be. I should add that I was no more talented but better at faking it.

New? Well I just asked DH and he said he'd like to learn Italian. Who knew? Molto bene! Me? Right now I'd like to get better at the things I already do -writing, gardening, baking, weight training, and kayaking

HANK: Oh, we took "dancing lessons" before our wedding. From a video. It was hilarious. Ultra-Fox Trot, or something. We practiced and practiced to the Ella version of Our Love is Here to Stay. It was incredibly intricate and involved, and there were things like "the grapevine" and all kinds of twirls. We were realy good. In the living room. And turns out Jonathan is the dancer of the family. (I insist on leading, too...this seems to be a theme.)

Anyway, wedding day. Band strikes up "it's very clear..." Jonathan is supremely confident. I whisper--"Forget about it! We're not going to do all that, right? NO way." Jonathan holds out his arms, smiling. "We sure are," he says. And we did! Grapevine and all. We stll love to dance.

What new? Ah. I'll go ask.


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  2. Oh, that tango photo looks JUST lkke Jonathan and me. Thanks, Roberta!

    You know , I did ask Jonathan if there was anything new he'd like to try. He said "Skydiving."

    Well, that's not true, you know?

    So I kind of--pushed. Really, I said. What new thing would you like to do?

    Learn a new language. Travel somewhere that you can't read the signs. (Hmm. That seems doable.)

    What I'd like to try--is not being tired. (Imagine...)

  3. What a great post! Learning something new is great for the imagination. Right now I'm learning how to garden (I hope to make you proud Rosemary!). And I'm suddenly hyper aware of every cool looking plant I've never seen before. We had a 15 minute conversation with a neighbor about her flowers last night--just a month ago I would have said "pretty flowers" and strolled on.

    I've never been able to haul my husband in for dancing lessons, and our first dance was pretty funny!

    -Meredith Cole

  4. My husband and I took disco lessons when we were first married. I can't even remember why. Now he won't dance at all because he thinks he looks silly (um, yeah, kind of) and all the cute young things on the dance floor will laugh at him.

    But learning new skills keeps you young, right? And going new places. Unused brain cells and muscles atrophy. Just keep moving!

  5. Dancing? I'd rather eat shards of glass! (That may be a bit of an exaggeration...but not by much!) I have no coordination when it comes to dancing, and I hate having that sense that people are watching and laughing. But Chelsey loves to dance. Which is why I let her dip me at the end of our wedding song. And why I was so thorough with making conversation with our guests--it kept me away from the dance floor! Only when "Conga" plays will you find me willingly subjecting myself to such horrors...

  6. Oh but John, you are still so young! Maybe when you're an old fart you'll be ready for lessons. I love the idea of Chelsea dipping you!

    Hank You're working too hard! Better plan that vacation to a place where you can't read the signs:)

  7. We did that dancing thing, too. I blamed our lack of success on Husband No. 1, and also the crestfallen look on the instructor's face each time we returned for lesson No. 2, 3, etc. By the end, I had to admit it was not my husband who had two left sense of rhythm... and who was disappointing the "alleged instructor"...
    Trying something new? Hmm. Maybe finish a book? Or speed cycling... Still mulling....

  8. After 38 years of marriage, hubby decided he'd join me in dancing lessons. Mom had asked what to get for my birthday, and he shocked me when he told her dance classes, and even more when he said he was going to take them too. (Or could it have been my constant muttering that "my next husband will take me dancing?") Not only that, but he decided we'd continue beyond the basic introductory package.

    He still can't dance -- he can't hear the music, but for those months we had a lot of fun laughing as we tried not to cripple each other.

    He does remember one thing--if he raises his arm, I'll turn.

  9. I'd like to learn how to make a killer all-purpose pie dough.

    Dancing I can do, but bake something that makes folks weak in the knees? Not so much.

    As in: not at all.

    So that's what I'd like to learn.

  10. Meredith, I miss you! send me pix of your garden...we'll talk. (I just had a photographer here from The Hartford Courant shooting my garden for a feature. Why are they here in August? After rains of biblical proportions?)

    Susannah, Next winter I will post my recipe for an onion pie (with melt in your mouth crust)that will make them weak in the knees, and will secure your place as a true domestic goddess.

    Maybe Jonathan and Bruce can learn Italian and then we can all go to Rome together. Gelato on the Spanish Steps ala Audrey?

  11. And Susannah, I have a really easy pie crust recipe!

    But count me in for both the onion tart and for Rome, even if the guys don't learn Italian...

  12. We used to dance like crazy but not so much after Hans' knees went south. He jitterbugged like a crazy fool.

    Now we mostly learn new software (I just got an Apple).

    I'm earning to make ice cream. Fresh peach and chocolate gelato are the latest. And we're growing veggies this year other than tomatoes and herbs. Jack and the beanstalk may be reanacted in the vegetable bed. Some truly bizarre lettuces emerged from the ground this spring via a "variety pack."

    Oh yeah. I learned how to give the cat insulin shots.

  13. sorry I haven't commented before. I've been zipping around Florida. Today in Palm Beach. Speaking at the library tonight.

    I married a man with two left feet. It's strange because he loves jazz but he has no sense of rhythm, so dancing with him is me doing gyrations and he essentially standing there. Too bad because I love to dance.