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{April 20, 2007}   First Dance Friday

Aloha,

I received another entry for today’s segment. In the form of an article. Enjoy! Gary Lehmann of Penfield, NY writes:

Mrs. Botsford’s School of Dauuunce

by

Gary Lehmann

When I was deemed old enough to need taming in the social graces, my mother signed me up for Mrs. Bodsford’s School of the Dauuunce.   That’s how everyone associated with this dubious adventure pronounced it.  There were, I believe, actual students who studied ballet and ballroom dancing.   Our class was the beginning ballroom dance class, more like rodeo than dressage, but very important, at least to Mrs. Bodsford’s economy.  

It took place every Saturday night and was all the rage amongst a certain class of mothers.  It was not so popular with the children involved, because it took place exactly at the same time as Gunsmoke a highly educational western adventure tale which appeared weekly on television.  A boy my age was virtually crippled socially if he could not expound on the newest episode during the forthcoming week at school.  Looking back on the dauuunce class, I’m pretty sure Mrs. Bodsford looked forward to these events as much as I did.

  The school was called Mrs. Bodsford’s School of Dauuunce , but it was run by her side-kick, Miss Leonard, a severe middle-aged person who wore round, horn-rimmed glasses and dresses which could be described as funereal and festive at the same time.  Hers was a totally unique fashion.   While Mrs. Bodsford appeared in the doorway in her lace gown, begloved hands demurely crossed at the waist, Mrs. Leonard strode in like the Marshall of Tombstone.  Anyone who had survived the first grade knew immediately what that meant.

  “Good evening, ladies and gentlemen,” she would say in a voice that strongly implied that we would repeat the return verse – if we knew anything of what was good for us. 

   “Good evening, Miss Leonard.” Our unharmonious responses straggled in like cows on the end of a long range run.

   “Children!  You can see that Mrs. Bodsford is present.  You should greet her first, expressing proper deference for her age and authority.”  All eyes moved to the corpse of Mrs. Botsford, which could not have looked more life-like in her coffin than she looked right now in the doorway.

    “Good evening Mrs. Botsford,” we droned.

    “Very good, children!”  Then a cloud came over the already granite face of Miss Leonard, simulating a cold winter day in Vermont .  “What is that I see?  Can I believe my eyes?  I see some of you with GUM in your mouths.”  Hands on hips.  Eyes scan the mob seeking out the felons.  “Should any of you have any foreign object in your mouths at this time, please deposit them in the trash receptacle by the stage.   Mrs. Botsford did not move a muscle but appeared to be trembling with appropriate rage as we scrambled to the basket and back in surprising numbers. 

   “Now,” said Miss Leonard, “it’s time to dance.”  She lined the boys and the girls up each in a separate line and, in a system of pairing still used in China and frequently used in Europe until the discovery of romance, she paired us off by height.  The girls were always at pains to express without words their utter disgust at having been paired with the ugliest, most awkward and uncouth male creature in the room.  It did not matter with whom she was paired.  The routine was mandatory as far as I could tell.  The girls did not need instruction in this portion of the ritual.

   Miss Leonard then grasp some poor male victim by the scruff of his neck and dragged him into the center of the dance floor to illustrate the proper way for a gentleman to hold a lady while dancing.  This grapple was explained in some detail, not failing to mention that no groping would be tolerated. Then the music began, a ponderous sort of dirge calculated to put anyone asleep — in waltz time.  These festive trots were punctuated by Miss Leonard’s occasional outbursts, “NO GUM!”   She would march over to the miscreant with the trashcan in hand, and he would spit the foreign object out with a satisfying clunk.

   At last, when the torture was over, Mrs. Botsford would pivot on her heels and Miss Leonard would line up for a reception line.

“Thank you for having me to your party,” we each said spontaneously expressing our infinite creativity in the same exact words.  Taking the hand, we gave a little bow, turned slowly, and ran like hell back home where, if we were lucky, we could just catch the tail end of The Twilight Zone.

This is every boy’s nightmare come true. Can you imagine being a young boy and having to learn how to ballroom dance?! Gah, the injustice of it all. While I like watching the competitions, especially the junior categories, young boys probably learn by watching MTV videos now, right? Thanks for the great article, Gary.

When was your first dance? How old were you? Did you go by yourself or with a group of friends? Send your stories to mattie_bhawk[at]yahoo[dot]com.



{April 13, 2007}   First Dance Friday

Welcome to the first edition of First Dance Friday. I hope more of you will write in with your stories. Dee M. of Jacksonville, IL writes:

I remember my first dance(s), if not the first actual
dance.  I grew up dancing.  My mother has told me that as a
little girl, I danced around the room when I wasn’t feeling
well; to make myself feel better. 
But what I truly remember on my own, are my mother and
father, turning on the music of the record player or radio
and dancing in our livingroom.  We had a linoleum floor,
and they could truly jitterbug and waltz, and boy could
they move!  I loved watching them, but after a time I’d run
up and grab hold of their legs and try to dance with them.

Instead of asking me to wait, my parents would let me dance
with them.  So there we were… me on my Dad’s feet,
holding on to his legs, sandwiched in between my Dad and my
Mom, and we would waltz!

What I wouldn’t give for a picture of that today for my
scrapbook.  Alas, I will just have to settle for it in my
“memory” book I suppose.  Those times dancing as a family,
made of me a lover of dancing for life.

Thanks for sharing, Dee. What a great memory! I imagine that was the “first dance” for all of us young’uns out there. Maybe I’ll share my story some time.

When was your first dance? How old were you? Did you go by yourself or with friends?

Send your stories to me at mattie_bhawk[at]yahoo[dot]com. Please be sure to include name, city and state.
 



{April 5, 2007}   YOUR STORIES ARE NEEDED!!!

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I run a special place here on the Big Island, so I won’t be able to post as often as Celise would like me to. So I’m asking for your help in supplying content for two specific days of the week:

Dance Lesson Wednesday – If you’re a dance instructor/choreographer or dance studio owner, I’d like to interview you.

First Dance Fridays – Do you remember your first dance? How old were you? Where was it at? Who did you go with? Do you remember the music that was played?

What you need to do:

~ For interview requests, please put Dance Lesson Wednesday in the Subject line and I will send you a questionnaire.

~ For the stories, please put First Dance Fridays in the Subject line and supply your name, city and state (unless you want to post anonymously).

~ Send your entries to me by clicking on the Email Me link in the Sidebar.

Please contact me if you have any questions.

 Thanks for all your help!



et cetera