Busting a Groove?
When I first started teaching I agreed to chaperone two dances a year. Dances were held on Friday nights, so they made a long week seem even longer, but it was a nice way to contribute. For the most part they were uneventful and were well attended by the students.
Once or twice during each school dance I would go out on the floor and showcase my dancing ability; actually, I would ham it up a bit. It was as if I didn’t get enough attention in the classroom each week. I figured, while I am here I might as well get a few laughs.
It was my third year teaching. Rosalee was a grade 12 student and enrolled in one of my chemistry classes. During a school dance she approached and asked if I would dance with her. I was chatting with a colleague and wanted to finish our conversation. I promised her I would for the next song.
At the end of that song she motioned to me and we walked out onto the gym floor. In my mind I was going to do a combination of the Hokey Pokey and a George Jefferson move. I was caught off-guard when the music began and it was of a slow tempo; or, as the students would say, a waltz. I suggested that we wait for the next song but she insisted that we dance.
Typically, when it comes to a slow song, students dance with hands on the others’ hips or shoulders and rock from side to side while moving clockwise in a tight circle. I wasn’t comfortable with the idea of touching her, much less putting my hands on her hips. I had to come up with another approach.
“Rosalee, I am going to introduce you to ballroom dancing. Put your left hand on my shoulder and I am going to hold your right hand in my left.” I then placed my right hand on her back and proceeded to explain how, using hand movements, I could signal her how we were going to move. We spent at least a minute talking about the basic moves before we actually started dancing.
“Rosalee, the nice thing about this style of dancing is that we are not confined to moving in one spot. We can go anywhere we want on the dance floor. Let’s see if we can slowly make our way over to the other side of the gym.”
Now, I would like to think I was doing a great job of leading; regardless, she caught on fairly quickly. We were able to move about the floor avoiding collisions with other couples. Our faces were also a safe distance apart and we talked about school.
While this was happening I noticed some of her friends were watching us. They were laughing as we danced like old people. Rosalee shot them a nasty stare.
“Don’t worry about them”, I said. “They are just jealous that you are getting free dance lessons. Now, let’s move further away.” And off we went.
I don’t recall what song we were actually dancing to but I do remember thinking it must have been close to ending.
“So, Rosalee, where do you want to go now?”
“But Mr. Caines, you are married.”
OH MY GAWD.
I quickly dropped my hands and stepped away from her.
“Rosalee, I meant the dance floor. I MEANT WHERE DO YOU WANT TO GO ON THE DANCE FLOOR.”
She told me she understood, but I wasn’t convinced. My heart was pounding as I pictured my career going up in smoke.
“Rosalee, PLEASE TELL ME you understand that I meant, where we would go on the dance floor”, I said as my arms were motioning an impassioned plea.
She assured me that she understood. With much trepidation I finished the dance. Her friends had been watching the whole time.
On my drive home that night I imagined what the ensuing conversation could have been between Rosalee and her friends. “Why did he stop dancing?”, “He said WHAT?”, “Are you sure that’s what he meant?” I pictured my career ending before the ink was dry on my teaching certificate.
When I arrived home my wife was asleep. In the morning I said, “Honey, I want you to hear this from me first” and I told her the story.
On Monday morning I was waiting for the principal outside of his office. “Lloyd, I want you to hear this from me first.” He had a good laugh.
My worst fears did not materialize. I know I went on to chaperone over fifty dances during my career but that was the last time I danced at a student dance. It was a few years before that became one of my favourite stories to tell.
By the way, our son is in his ninth year as a professional dancer, and he has performed in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and throughout North America. I like to think he gets his talent from me.
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