It had been a good workout.
I felt energetic, strong, and even though Suzi is the best company, it was also good to be around other people during the class, if only through the iPad resting at the perfect height in the sock drawer of our bedroom.
And then Jamie, our instructor, started the music on her end-of-class stretching playlist.
“I’m alone, yeah, I don’t know if I can face the night
I’m in tears and the cryin’ that I do is for you
I want your love
Let’s break the walls between us
Don’t make it tough
I’ll put away my pride
I’ve suffered and I’ve seen the light”
I’m way too self-conscious about how terrible I am to be any kind of a dancer. You know the expression “dance like nobody’s watching”? For me, it’s more like “not only is everybody watching, they’re all laughing at you.” At the last wedding I went to, Suzi wanted to dance, and practically had to beg me.
I’ve never learned anything more than shuffling my feet to the music — I sang and played trombone, so I do have some concept of what rhythm is, even if I don’t have any — from one side to the other.
Meanwhile, my brother has no such compunction. His dancing has been a hit at multiple wedding receptions, including mine.
But from eighth grade on, I used to always go to the dances in my high school gym. Even if I was working at the diner on Saturday, my shift ended not long after the dance started, so I’d clean the kitchen smell off as best I could, change my clothes and drive the short distance to the school.
It was mostly a way to hang out with friends for a few hours with minimal adult supervision, even though I was never any kind of troublemaker, but I would dance a little bit. Maybe being in a large group in the dark took some of the edge off.
Every now and then, despite never having a girlfriend, I would even … slow dance. It was the classic hands-locked-around-her-waist, her-hands-over-his-shoulders, arm’s-length-apart stuff, but was was a girl … actually dancing … with me.
Granted, I’m pretty sure that one time a girl I didn’t really talk to very much was only dancing with me because she wanted to get close to my friend Chuck, but hey, it counted.
I don’t have any particular memories of dancing to Aerosmith’s “Angel,” but it was that kind of overwrought, late-1980s power ballad that was a natural fit for when the DJ wanted to slow it down a bit so the couples could hit the floor. (See also: “Never Say Goodbye,” Bon Jovi.)
There was one song, however, that was guaranteed to play at every dance.
I don’t know if I’ve ever heard “Stairway to Heaven” anywhere other than a high school dance, never knew the lyrics (and after reading them, have no idea what they mean) and never realized it’s considered one of the greatest songs of all time.
All I knew as a high school kid is that it seemed like it was about 15 minutes long (it’s actually around eight minutes), and I hated it. Also, if memory serves, they seemed to play it at the end of the dance a lot.
I danced to it one time, and that was by accident. I was sitting in the bleachers, minding my own business, and a friend pulled me out onto the floor to dance with her. It wasn’t until about halfway through the song — which felt like about 10 minutes — that I realized what song it was.
So anyhow … “Angel” ended, Jamie’s phone played the next song on the shuffle, and the stretching continued.
What is it like to be someone who doesn’t worry about what they look like when they’re dancing? Did you go to dances when you were in school? If so, was there a song that got played every single time, and what song was it?