On ballroom dancing.

March 22, 2013 § Leave a comment

Today, for the first time ever, I ballroom danced. Yes, it’s a Thursday. Yes, I’m under the age of 75. And, yes, I did sweat. I’m taking a course on Jane Austen’s novels and my professor thought it a good idea to organize a one and a half hour ballroom dance session for our entire class. She thought the value of teaching us how to dance the way Austen’s heroines danced far outweighed the value of just another lecture. She was right.

Picture 60 students (mostly female and the few brave males who signed up for a course on Jane Austen) sashaying across an elegant ballroom in the almost 100-years-old Michigan Union: now add about 20 volunteers all over the age of 70 and most with grey hair accompanying us. This was my afternoon.

I have to admit, I was pretty excited when I learned earlier in the year that we were going to attempt (key word) to ballroom dance. It’s something I’d always wanted to try but never actually tried, because really, who ballroom dances anymore? I learned today from our spritely volunteers that in fact, many people do. But it’s usually something you make time for post-retirement.

Not only did the volunteers teach us 4 different routines, but there were also a few volunteers who enhanced our experience by playing the piano and violin. While most volunteers were friendly and helpful, there were one or two who seemed a bit perturbed when giggling college kids messed up the flow of the dance. But overall, I would say the event played out quite smoothly. I was pleasantly surprised by how enjoyable ballroom dancing is, especially when your partner is one of your best friends and not a man you’re trying to impress.

Now when I read the scenes of Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy dancing at the Netherfield Ball, I will know exactly how they’re dancing. And I now understand the formality, precision and intimacy that ballroom dancing requires. I think it would be quite nice to be wooed by a male suitor while dancing this way. Especially because you could leave them after a short while for a new partner if things weren’t jiving.

As my friend and I walked out of the ballroom with sweat glistening on our foreheads, we emphatically stated that we were born in the wrong time period. But then again, we do have the right to vote.


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