I could feel the muscles in my eyelids. When I blinked very slowly, I could feel them connecting to my face under the skin. And in my neck, when I lifted my chin, I could feel the fine muscles all through my neck. It was an amazing sensation.
After nine weeks of dancing lessons, learning Jive, Rock & Roll, Cha Cha and some line dancing – I thought I knew every muscle in my body. I wondered – how come all that exercise hadn’t dealt with every single muscle I owned?
Every Wednesday and Friday night – regardless of the 42° heat – we had stepped, swung and sweated our way through over two hours of lessons in the Baskerville Hall. In the following week we would start Jive again, but this night, this particular night was graduation night from the School of Basic Rock & Roll and I had a new dress just for the occasion.
1950’s clothes are gorgeous and this dress was a killer: black with lime green polka dots; lime green waist ribbon finished in a bow; a full circle skirt to swish and swirl and a real satin and net petticoat built it. It was just lovely and invited you to parade about, turning this way and that and making lots of little hip turning moves.
The previous week, when it became apparent that my dancing phase was likely to last, I invested in a pair of dancing shoes from Glitz & Glamour. With open toes, T-bar straps and a good heel they made me feel like Ginger Rogers because proper dancing shoes mean you can think about what your feet are doing instead of whether your feet will stay in your shoes while Ronnie spins you this way and that, very fast.
Of course, there was a perfectly good reason for all of this. Just before Easter 2007, I was to be in Sabah at the PIS Conference and the theme for the Gala Dinner Night is 1950’s Red & Gold Rock & Roll. Our PIS CEO, Robbie Bennetts looks a bit like Elvis, sings a lot like Elvis and we would have the PIS Band that always plays lots of 50’s and 60’s R&R music. When I registered for this conference a year previously in Hawaii, I had no idea what the theme might be.
I have appeared at PIS conferences dressed as Dame Edna Everage, a Pirate of the Pacific, 1920’s It Girl and as a Chinese Lady (of indiscriminate description) when we had a whole load of people over from Singapore. This time – it was a 1950’s Rock & Roll.
I had a stunning red dress and some 50’s clip on earrings for the Gala Dinner and the dancing afterwards. The killer dress was for the PIS Idol Night – when Karaoke rules after an elegant poolside dinner.
When I was about 13, my Mum caught me practicing to jive in my bedroom with my girlfriend. Oh, boy! You would think I had brought the Devil home for dinner! Later, there was no time for dancing while married and mothering three small children and when I was single again in my late twenties, breaking two legs in a car accident brought the fun of dancing in Perth’s better nightclubs to a sudden halt. Apart from me being off work for a year, Robbie always said breaking my legs was the best thing that happened, because I stopped nagging him to dance. He really didn’t care to dance that much.
Now, I am 63 (well, I was in 2007) and I had to be able to R&R and Jive at the Conference. It is great fun, too. I missed the critical lesson when Les was teaching how to do the kicks in Jive. The following Friday night, I first got a kick in the shins when I didn’t move fast enough to meet up with one of the men further down the line (we did progressive dancing so you got to dance with everyone) When it came to kicks, I was still having no success.
When we did meet up, in exasperation Gary says to me “You are just not getting it. You have to spread your legs for me, love.” I burst out laughing, he blushed and I said, “It’s been a long time since anyone said that to me and got away with it.” He was an excellent dancer and soon had my kicks sorted out.
And the eyelids? Well, that had more to do with three weeks of intensive work on the treadmill, bouncy blue ball, Ab-swing and lifting weights – trying to undo a summer of neglect. They were very relaxed a week or two later, when I was lying under a palm tree in the warm tropics, drinking pina coladas and idly dreaming of dancing with Fred Astaire.
The irony of it all was that almost NONE of the men could properly Rock and Roll – but it was fun to dream!
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