Saturday, May 26, 2007

Bopping to a New Beat

Two weeks from today I will celebrate my 54th birthday. I came of age during the 1970s, but I have always been a late bloomer, which perhaps will explain this: Two nights ago -- Thursday, May 24 -- I danced to disco music for the very first time in my life, even though disco has been passe for 25-plus years and is now regarded as a bit of an oddity. The occasion was the regular Thursday-night practice party at the Fred Astaire studio here in Chandler. The staff had designated this particular evening as Disco Night, and part of the festivities involved all of the attendees learning a line-dance variation of the hustle. The following evening I was back at the studio for another reason, and asked one of the instructors to help me remember all the steps to this dance; and thus it was that I spent a few minutes in the studio's reception area, practicing the hustle with a young instructor who could not have been older than 25, and thus not even born during the heyday of disco. It was fun, but alas, this doesn't come naturally to me, and I have to work very hard at it.

In connection with the foregoing, I stopped at Fry's supermarket on my way home from the bus stop yesterday and spent a few minutes browsing through their magazine section. In the current (May 28) issue of Time I found this "classic letter" to the editor, published in that magazine on September 8, 1975. The author was none other than one Ginger Rogers, a resident of Eagle Point, Oregon:

"If the Hustle, the dance with partners, is a sign of things to come, I embrace it. Dancing with a partner is prettier and friendlier than just standing opposite someone thinking your own thoughts, doing your own thing. It is a social grace, nicer than saying hello and it is fun to exchange bons mots while dancing with an old friend or someone you have just met.

"Above all there is something joyous about dancing. There is a sense of taking part and a sense of accomplishment as one fits the steps to the music. It is too bad that the name of the new dance is not more romantic, but then I guess the young people would not like it."

A few months ago, I might have read this and moved on to something else without giving the letter another thought, much less taken the time to post it on my blog. But as I have learned during the past four months or so, as I have been taking lessons both individually and with my wife, truer words have never been spoken.

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