Ball room dancing

October 26, 2010

It was chestnut season when I entered the sterile hall of the local missionary house.

Bathed, perfumed and shy behind a pair of second hand lens frames, thicker than my little finger and inherited from a dead uncle, I was about to be initiated into ball room dancing, the standard coming-of-age-strategy, to approach the other sex, on a Danish island, in the sixties.

I was 10 and the romantic type who would break off bouquets to impress hair and girlish giggle. In spring, the stone perimeter of the school yard staged a fragrant wall of lilac, white and blue; a natural backdrop for butterflies and pre adolescent aspirations to emotional bloom.

Now the time had come for dancing.

The room, apart from the  sparse decoration, was occupied by girls and boys lined up against the walls; I’m still not sure what produced the awkward situation that followed; if it were my glasses, the fact that I was the last to enter or my prepubescent over weight, fruit of growing up in a bakery? In the end the cause is never as important as the consequence… after the invitation to pair up I was the only one not to have a partner.

This initial disaster led to further grief. Suddenly, and with out a warning, the oval body of a flushed woman seized me and began, to the music of Strauss, to demonstrate, to the room of youth, how you perform the waltz.

I was not really dancing… it is hardly dancing when you dangle from a bosom and are being lifted around in circles without ever touching the ground; it is simply embarrassing; I left my body; in trauma you are the last person who wants to know what is happening to you.

On being set back down on my feet I caught the pity in the eyes of the others; that was my final impression before the door that led into the life I had known before dancing sucked me out of the missionary house and sent me running in search of oblivion.

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2 Responses to “Ball room dancing”

  1. Harsh. . . .I remember my first dancing experience. I was actually part of the first couple on the dancefloor. I got out there with a girl who was a close friend. I’m such a dumbass, I put my arms around her neck- the positon the woman usually takes. Embarrassed, she grabbed my arms and put them around her hips. Certainly hadn’t taken the lead there. . . . .

  2. exuvia said

    “she grabbed my arms and put them around her hips”

    Would that hold in court?

    On another note, there were two possibilities back then. Or she loved you or she was an imposing woman hiding in the body of a small girl and you were lucky to escape. Did you escape?

    I can also see the leadership in your personality – first couple on the floor – and your sense of breaking the norm. Counter culture seems to have been part of your genes.

    Hey I once knitted on guard during military service. Counter that.

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