Please, Step On My Toes

I want someone to surprise me in the kitchen with Sam Cooke’s “Bring It On Home To Me.” I want to silently move with someone to “And I Love You So” by Perry Como. I want Fred Astaire to serenade me with “Cheek to Cheek” while I sway with someone. I want to dance. More to the point, I want to slow dance.

If you’ve ever seen the movie Catch Me If You Can, you might recall the scene where Frank’s parents dance in the living room to Judy Garland singing “Embraceable You.” That is what I’m talking about.

The only partner dancing I’ve been privleged to partake in.

The best dancing I have done was with a little man. It was a tradition we had carried on for three-and-a-half years. He would run up to me on tip toes, arms stretched up, saying, “Boompa, Kimmie, boompa!” Boompa is what he called “our” song, “Papa Loves Mambo” by Perry Como. And you know, he’s the only man I’ve ever found who would dance with me to Perry Como. Hmph. He may have been a little man, but he was light years ahead of most grown men.

Outside of a spontaneous moment at home, I want to attend a dance. That may sound a bit juvenile, as if I’m waiting for Homecoming or the Prom, but I’m referring to those dances held in the community. Ones with a real band, not a DJ. Ones with tables to sit at having a drink and chatting with friends. A place where the songs range from those get-in-close songs to the pick-it-up-with-a-little-swing songs. These would be varying dances, the 1950s-60s to big bands, think Glenn Miller (Yes, you read that right, I said Glenn Miller!).

I don’t know of any place that holds these types of dances anymore. Perhaps I haven’t researched enough, or just don’t know the right people who would steer me in the correct direction, or maybe it’s just where I live now. My grandparents went dancing every week for over 25 years. They had VFW and Knights of Columbus dances. Nights of fun and carefree enjoyment with friends and neighbors.

My Gramps and Gramma in one of my favorite photos.

This is what they did. This what they loved to do. I don’t remember personally seeing them dance, but I often have visions now, of what they must have been like on the dance floor. About how much fun they must have had and how good they must have been. Over 25 years worth of dancing memories I would love to have known more about.

I also wish for those fine restaurants with an orchestra and a dance floor. The kind you see in classic movies. Everyone is coming for a meal and a dance, classy and sophisticated.

Scene from Top Hat.

It’s unfortunate, that for several generations the only “dancing” has been gyrating, grinding, and sweaty drunkenness. This is what I grew up into, and it mostly made me cringe. Don’t get me wrong, I liked to go out with my friends to a club and have fun on the dance floor, but as soon as some handsy guy with beer breath approached, the appeal was gone.

What happened to the days of a man being a gentleman, asking a woman for a dance, taking her by the hand, and effortlessly moving across the dance floor? A time when being close for a slow dance was sexy, without all the overt R-rated movements?

This kind of dancing is intimate in a simple kind of way, looking into one another’s eyes and moving as one to a gentle rhythm. You can even be surrounded by people, but it is a quiet, enclosed private world between two people, with such simple movements and a moment shared. This dancing was for holding one another, to touch, and to express an unspoken connection.

My toes are waiting. . .

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28 thoughts on “Please, Step On My Toes

  1. You know, if the world you’re describing existed in macro form today, I would be far more inclined to be socially engaged in a general sense. As it stands, the closest thing to dancing I do these days is trip my way through a crowd of aesthetically backward drunkards, under speakers blaring Kanye West, on my way through the bar to pick up my to-go order. But if your world existed, I’d be there. I’d probably dance, too.

    Oh, and cute grandparents. : )

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  2. Oh you simply must attend The Cicada Club here in Los Angeles. It is exactly what you’re after. Its a 20’s-30’s era night club ~ dinner, drinks and dancing to a live big band. It’ll change your life.

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    • I don’t make my way up to L.A. very often, but I would definitely make the time to go to that place! I checked out the website, looks amazing! Only problem is I think I’d have a difficult time getting someone to go with me. My drinking buddy humors me a lot of the time and goes with me places, but not sure he’d go as far as putting on a jacket and tie!

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  3. I immediately thought of Cicada Club as well! You’ll love it. The decor is beautiful, and the crowd is always dressed to the nines. Definitely worth a visit, if you’re ever in L.A. The Edison is also a great retro classic, but the crowd is definitely more mainstream and the music is often modern.

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  4. AH! ((sigh)) I am so with you on this note.

    Your are just so right to bring this up. The music/dance situation today is so cheap, gyrating, gutteral, animalistic. Old-World dancing (yes, even the stiff ‘Fox Trot’) was about social engagement, supervised interaction, and forced young people to really THINK about their feelings.

    Instead of looking for a venue that suits your need – may I suggest creating one?

    There are a ton of halls in every region looking to rent out their clubs on a Saturday night. Wih patience, the internet, and social websites, you will easily find your romantic audience. YOU pick the tunes, the setting, demand the attire, and post appropriate photo as examples, to promote your next event…

    Now, suggesting this, I am giving myself an idea.

    It will work better if you connect it to a fundraising effort. Where I live, autism is the #1 in the world, so that is a charity start for me. The rest is fun.

    Good luck. Your posts just keep triggering my deep, heart-felt nostalgic nerve. I love it!

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  5. I’m with you and your other commenters. The old ways were just better, somehow finer and more filled with grace and charm and dignity. Here in Atlanta, we have several clubs, but they are very expensive and hard to get in. I’d like to see one for regular folks; I know, for example, that there are local big bands and swing bands that would love to play such things. Perhaps you could find one of those groups and follow them to the “promised land”?

    Thanks to the popularity of movies like _Swingers_ , jive dancing made a brief comeback. Maybe you can start a renaissance of this style!

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  6. People of a certain age look back and say…yeah, it was better back then. Well, I’m of a certain age and…yeah, it was better back then. Dances were classy, dancing was classy…people brought their “A” Game to the events. Now…not so much, huh? 180 degrees.

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  7. Back then, you could actually hear your partner speak over the music as well. I used to perform at a rock club in NJ that played techno between the bands. Cool concept, but it was even louder than the musicians! My ears needed a break, and I was one of the people playing.

    I much prefer a slow dance. I feel a bit silly popping around out there on my own, but gliding cheek to cheek is a different story.

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  8. I can’t dance. Got two left feet. But If I could I think I’d like to dance to something like Percy Faith’s A summer place, Perez Prado’s Cherry Pink (and Apple Blossom White), Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs’ Stay or The Drifters This magic moment. Even a non-dancer can dream you know. 🙂

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  9. Pingback: My Heart Sighs: I Can’t Give You Anything But Love | Lovely Shades of Nostalgia

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