Taj and his friends sat in a semicircle off the dancefloor, drinking cans of Mahou Classic. It’s one of the standard Spanish beers, costs a euro, and apparently is pretty good. I wouldn’t know since I only drink beer if it’s Belgian.
I should have made an exception that night because my frustration was only growing. Despite La Industria’s large square dance space, wall of mirrors and lovely lighting, its dance events always depressed me. There was no one good to dance with. On this particular evening, Caroline’s partner was in another European city running an uphill marathon. And since the day I read Roman the riot act, no one had seen or heard from him.
Caroline was a decent follow and so I danced the boy’s role with her. There was no way, however, to fulfill the great desire in my heart to show Taj and his friends true lindy hop, fast and crisp and flowing, maybe with a few snap whoosh bang acrobatics. What a wasted opportunity.
Melody approached me after I danced a second song with Caroline. “I didn’t know you were so good!” Melody cried.
“I’m a professional, darling.” My insides felt raw with emotion. It hurt to breathe. I regretted but had to accept the fact that for the moment I could not behave well or fairly.
“Oh, can’t you show me something, please!” Melody begged.
Unsmiling, I led her over to the mirrors. Forgetting that she had been a ballerina for years, I began to slowly demonstrate the eight-count basic lindy hop rhythm.
Suddenly Brad was at my side, copying me. I was astonished. I am used to spending hours teaching this pattern and he got it right away.
Garamond too. What was going on?
When I next looked in the mirror I saw four Americans and one Brit behind me: Garamond, Brad, Jessica, Poppy, and Melody. I also noticed that I was smiling. Run run triple-step; run-run triple-step. Dancing never fails. The earth is always there for me. I can push off of it and lindy hop. And sometimes, sometimes, people do want to share in this inspiration with me.
When it was time to partner I chose Poppy to help me demonstrate. She and Roy had already taken a few blues dance lessons from me, along with Taj, and she was an amazingly natural follower. Later I found out that she has ridden horses for years. To me it seems that that being able to attune to animals gives a person really good partner dance skills.
We rotated, and I danced with each of my new friends. Jessica kept apologizing for missing the class I had set up, and thanking me for teaching them all now. Whenever she did that, the others would chime in and agree. It was incredibly sweet.
Brad and Garamond continued to impress me with their rhythm. Garamond even began to lead. This is really difficult when you first learn the basic 8-count rhythm. Almost all guys need several hours of practice on the basic footwork before they can pay attention to the girl. It’s normal. Both Brad and Garamond were whooping it up, laughing if they made a mistake, asking me to show them the pattern again, saying they were gonna get really good and then start flipping me. I glanced at their muscles and said I thought that sounded great.
Melody did fine, of course. If she really wanted to lindy hop, though, I would have to Africanize her style, teach her to dance in the floor rather than sashaying out of it.
Jessica was a disaster. She didn’t seem able to bend her knees. If I tried to lead her one way she went the other, almost pulling me over in the process. Fortunately she had a great attitude and just laughed the whole time.
Meanwhile, Taj talked with Cade and The Specialist, all of them still seated. Later Taj alluded to the diplomacy required in persuading men from that part of the US known as The South that if you dance it does not mean you are gay. People are irrational, and cultures of people even more so. I have to accept that. I especially have to accept that if I hope that a certain culture will begin to move in a more dance-friendly direction.
After I’d mentally exhausted my new students and Taj brought the philosophical talks to a close, he came over to the floor and took me for a couple of spins. Literally. He didn’t yet know any steps per se, but he could lead. So while the Spaniards (and a few French) around us pumped their arms and stomped their feet through patterns they spent hours trying to learn, poor things, Taj led me smoothly and sweetly around the dance floor. He could move me, create space for me and take care of me. He knew what to do with a woman in his arms.
On the day he sat next to me in the computer room, and I caught his beautiful scent and then looked into his beautiful eyes, some part of me recognized the undeniable chemistry between us. I sure did try to deny it, though, even in that moment. He was so young. He could not possibly be interested in me. Eventually I learned there was nothing wrong with playing Demi Moore to his Ashton Kutcher. Or Aphrodite the love goddess to his Adonis: the brave young hunter and most handsome man in the world.
It was time to go to the German beer bar and get a big table and drink some more drinks. Since my stomach still hurt it would be Coca Cola Light for me. We began to troop toward the door, across the front of the room, as the other people still at the event hugged the back.
Taj and Roy went on ahead, almost to the other side. Then suddenly, Roy swung his foot into the air and Taj caught it underneath and pushed up, and Roy flipped backwards in the air, landing with a huge slam of feet against the floor.
The Spaniards stopped dancing and looked up, shocked.
Americans. Fucking things up again.