Author Carol Lawrence
She grew up in an era that had no idea about paying to go to a gym to exercise. Pick up sports games and dancing were the aerobics and flexibility training of the day.
For young adults, and really any age, a typical Saturday night in the long cold winter was spent at the curling club, a mini bonspiel first and then snacks and dancing for the rest of the evening. With Jive, Rock and Roll and Chubby Checker’s Let’s Do the Twist, dancing was a thorough and complete workout. You cannot dance without music. They go hand in hand.
Music transports her into dance. She has danced to the music, as she never knew she could. All it took was for the music to resonate throughout her body; bones, muscles, and brain and be led by a strong partner.
She experienced this miraculous dance experience when young on her first trip out of Canada destination Jamaica. She was aware of Calypso, Cha-cha-cha, and Salsa, but had never danced them. With her girlfriend-travelling partner, they ventured out to hear the local music. Sitting in the warm, humid evening air, she went deep into the music. Suddenly, she was lifted out of her chair and dancing. She felt nothing but the music and motion. She did not know her partner, but lost in the moment his identity was meaningless. Time did not exist, people did not exist, and thinking did not exist. It was a perfect union of her body and the music in a different space. The music went on and on and finally it stopped, her trance broken, her body at rest. They were the only couple on the dance floor, the rest circled them and clapped and stomped. She flushed and embarrassed as her partner returned her to her table. He turned out to be a Cuban businessman who loved to dance when travelling for business.
She had that ethereal dance experience again years later. Separated recently, living quietly in a small-furnished studio apartment in downtown Toronto, she has told only her immediate family and close friends. She still held out hope for the marriage. There were many single men in that apartment with a large number of furnished suites for people coming in on several months of work assignment. She had responded to some “hellos” in the elevator and the pool but no further dialogue.
Toronto had a large Folk Festival and in a weak moment, she said she would go to the Festival with a man who she had run into on the elevator several times. Regretting her decision to be out in public with another man, she tried to reach him but could not. He showed up right on time, dressed in sports jacket, black shirt and yellow tie. My first thought Mafia! He had a boutonniere, was immaculate and presented me with a single red rose.
After expressing her concerns, they agreed to go only to the German Pavilion. She relaxed thinking she would not meet anyone she knew. He turned out to be a fantastic dancer, especially the Polka a dance she had loved and done often. Again, with her partner’s strong lead, her pent up love of dance lifted her spirits in timelessness. They had space to move and flew across the floor. The polka seemed endless. It stopped just as she was becoming breathless and needed a cool beer. Now a Toronto Star reporter wanting to interview them. She was flustered; mortified by her status and now it was going to be in the Toronto Star! They allowed one picture taken while they had been dancing. He stepped in and said let me handle the interview. Their picture did appear, she took on her maiden name and the whirl of the dance brought a comforting blur to the picture.
A second marriage was in her stars. He loved to dance but the opportunities seemed less. Weddings, curling nights, were fewer now. They would often dance in the kitchen if a song they liked came on radio. Life changed, gyms sprung up everywhere, TV seemed to take more time, and couples entertained over dinner. The freedom of those younger years were lost. Travel was more constrained. She travelling for business on her own did not feel safe to venture out alone.
The years passed, she now a senior and he with physical constraints. The last time they danced an evening was at a New Year’s wedding several years ago. The atmosphere restored the magic but unfortunately, their stamina could only hold out so long.
She has not forgotten dance. She will often spend Saturday night listening to Randy Bachman’s Vinyl Tap. He brings back the music of her younger years. She is there dancing again while settling on her Lazy boy. The music and the dances in her head always lift her to a joyous place.
p.s. News March 26, 2021: Randy Bachman’s Vinyl Tap is the latest victim of CBC’s cuts