Dancing with Dan

Thursday, 5:30am, Harold Mair Hill, Albury.  The stars are still glittering as I’m skipping like a five-year-old to Chiddy Bang’s Remix of “Ray Charles”, throwing in a few flamboyant moves when the music calls for it.  The song ends as I reach the top of the hill and I accompany the finale with what’s best described as a right-hip-thrust with a pivot-turn.  Thinking I’m alone in the pre-dawn dark, I look up to see that a man my age is almost directly in front of me and smiling.  I know I’m supposed to be embarrassed by my ridiculous bopping, but I’m not; I can’t be embarrassed when I’m enveloped in my iPod cocoon.  I return the smile but as we make eye-contact I quickly look away in panic; I know this man and I don’t want him to recognise me. 

I have just seen Dan Firth for the first time since I was fifteen.  Dan contacted me last year through Facebook – I’d not heard from him in almost twenty years.  He lives in Albury so there was a reasonable chance I was going to see him, but there’s a distinct irony that it happened as I was immersed in a theatrical dance.

Me looking overly dramatic for my Year 10 Formal (in my defence, Mum asked me not to smile and look straight ahead so she could “just get a photo of your hair”).

Dan was a boy at school I’d never noticed until we started compulsory dance lessons for our Year 10 Formal.  Over a hundred of us had to learn a variety of dances from the waltz to the quickstep every week for months before the event.  I’ve never enjoyed dancing as much with a partner as I did with Dan.  His dancing skills were incredible, and especially so when you realise how appallingly sixteen-year-old boys tend to dance.  I spent every two-hour class excitedly anticipating my turn with Dan.  He wore a slightly different maroon jumper to the other boys, so from the corner of my eye, I could always see where he was in the outer circle of boys fox-trotting my way.

After what felt like ages, Dan’s right hand was around my waist and he was gripping me tightly, pressing me against him with force.  Relief flooded over me, now I was dancing.  For about ten minutes we moved fluidly in time to the music before we moved to our next partners and my toes were stepped on as I was jostled about awkwardly by boy after boy.  The ten minutes with Dan were easily worth any bruised toes.

One afternoon our dance instructor, Mr Anderson, gathered us for an announcement.

Mr Anderson:  Today I want you all to continue practicing the dances you’ve learnt with Mrs Brunton before we move onto something else.  Dan and Simone will you please come with me.

Slightly confused, I looked at Dan but his face looked as clueless as mine as we followed Mr Anderson to the corner of the school hall.

Mr Anderson:  Okay from now on I’m going to get you to demonstrate the dances for the others, and today I’m going to teach you a basic tango.   

I was elated – we were to be permanent dancing partners!  That definitely offset the embarrassment of performing in front of the other students.  Dan pulled me in as close to him as always, his posture straight and his grip firm; I followed his perfect physical commands unquestioningly.  Man, could he lead.  For the next few weeks we danced together.  Although we never really spoke, I cherished those hours.  A week before the Year 10 Formal he didn’t come to school – rumours surrounded his disappearance.  Was he expelled?  Had his parents divorced and he’d suddenly moved?  It turned out he’d joined the military.  A fact I only discovered last year.

I’m hoping I looked away quickly enough yesterday and won’t be receiving a Facebook message from Dan in the next few days.  I still love dancing as much as I ever did, but I don’t think the thirty-five year-old-dancing Simone can match up to the fifteen-year-old one.

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9 responses to “Dancing with Dan

  1. I’ve always danced like an idiot – made an amateur acting career out of it even. But I enjoy it and can’t imagine stopping.
    That reminds me, I didn’t get my prize for winning the Dancing Queen competition!

  2. Conventional wisdom dictates that we should all dance like nobody is watching. This is an old idiom and I for one should observe it more often. It is something that your mother would have told you too. And so in that at least I am heartened to learn that at 5:30am, you did. However in these enlightened times this quote now comes with a caveat about social media and people with iPhones*. I look forward to Dan’s posting on You Tube showing to a right-hip-thrust and a pivot-turn. That’s what the internet is really about… isn’t it?!?!

    * iPhones – Other makes are available

    • Last night I watched the 30Rock episode “Dance like nobody’s watching” for the first time and loved it. Liz Lemon’s happiness at secretly dancing at Madison Square Garden is fantastic. Dancing freely is just so fun that if Dan’s posts me on YouTube I’ll have to cope – the joy is worth the embarrassment 🙂

      • Mr. Squiggle

        True… true… We all enjoy bustin’ a few moves, and there are plenty of poor experiences of that already on You Tube. However I must point out that personal experience confirms that appalling dance moves are not always confined to sixteen-year-old boys.

        Fortunately for me, no-one has caught me on video…. yet… 🙂

  3. Whaaat?! How dare you insult 35 year old Simone like that! She has the spirit and confidence her 15 year old self would be envious of. It’s not all bad getting older you know!

    I hope Dan gets in touch with you, you go dancing and manage to recapture those feelings of excitement again!

    • You know, I think I actually like getting older. I enjoy telling teenagers off as an adult, rather than one of their peers. I was in a cinema last week and told some irritating teenagers to be quiet and they shut up – twenty years ago my instructions to my fellow adolescents didn’t always turn out so successfully …

  4. Slightly embarrassing but he might just get in touch and you can show him your dance moves.

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