When I was in high school there was a dance every Saturday night on my campus. If I didn’t have a babysitting job that night I was in the cafeteria swaying to the music. Back in the sixties a young woman had to wait for someone to ask her to dance before going to the dance floor and I was sadly what was then known as a wallflower. I fit that description perfectly because I mostly sat in one of the chairs lining the walls hoping, praying that someone would ask me to dance. Often that did not happen but hope sprang eternal in my heart and so week after week for four years I returned to the scene dreaming of one day filling my dance card and becoming the belle of the ball.
There was a time when a rather small boy took a shine to me. He was probably no more than five foot three inches and since I was still only four foot eight I was a perfect match for him. He was not a student at my school so we knew little about each other and because the music was always loud we didn’t bother to talk much. Our objective was to just have fun dancing and he was rather talented in that regard. I looked forward to seeing him whenever he came. He always searched for me sitting in one of those chairs, walked right over, smiled and held out his hand as a sign that it was time to take some turns around the room.
One summer he did not come for many weeks. I began to wonder if he had moved away or found a girlfriend. In the meantime I went through a growth spurt that was literally painful. In only a matter of months I increased my height to five feet six and a half inches. I had become a tall girl over night. Sadly my little fellow had not grown a speck and when he finally came again he rushed over with that cute smile of his not noticing my long legs wrapped around the base of the chair. When I stood up I was three and a half inches taller than he was and his reactions was one of horror. Without saying a word he literally ran away as though I had somehow humiliated him. My days on the chair resumed.
Over the years as I grew a bit less shy I would rise from my perch and saunter over to groups of boys that I knew doing my best impression of flirting. I suppose I thought they might take the hint and dance with me through at least one fast song but they seemed clueless about what I was seeking. Nonetheless I was persistent in my belief that one day someone would discover me.
In my senior year I often depended on the kindness of strangers, young men who came from other schools who took a chance with me. We had fun for the evening and that was all, which was fine with me. All I really wanted was to dance, not form a lasting relationship. Most of the time my partners and I never even exchanged names.
Before long I was at the University of Houston as a college freshman. I went to a street dance one evening and met the best dance partner ever. We never left the dance floor and I had so much fun. Unfortunately he actually wanted to be my boyfriend and my only desire was to dance. I felt really bad when he put his little sister on the phone to beg me to give him a chance but our dancing days were done. Then I met my husband.
I was instantly attracted to Mike. I wanted to know all about him and be with him. I had never felt such a magical connection with anyone I had ever known. There was only one small problem. He did not like to dance. While we shared everything else, dancing was not part of our relationship. I married him nonetheless.
The years passed and we fell more and more deeply in love but there was still no dancing in our time together. I forgot about how much I had enjoyed moving to the music and did not really miss it all that much until things began to change in the more modern world. Suddenly nobody had to ask a woman to dance. She was free to enter the dance floor solo and pick up the beat all by herself. As a chaperone at school dances I would spend the entire night having a ball learning all the new steps to the most current music. Before long my grandchildren were old enough to dance with me. I would kick off my shoes and have the greatest time with them. Then they became older and felt a bit less comfortable dancing with their Gammy.
One of my all time favorite nights was spent on the roof of the Rio Hotel in Las Vegas with a group of fellow educators dancing in the middle of a knot of people just swaying and having a good time. I felt so free and happy that the old ways were gone. I did not need a partner or an invitation from a man to feel the joy that dancing has always brought to me. I celebrated the new ways and wished that my generation had been wise enough to think of just letting everyone hit the dance floor.
Now my dancing is mostly done solo and I don’t mind at all. Dancing was alway about the joy and freedom of expressing myself with movement. I finally understand that I can enjoy it anywhere anytime. I have finally become a dancing queen.