I went to a ballroom dance party last weekend with some friends. This is not something I would normally do, but the party was sponsored by a local organization and was held by the local Fred Astaire Dance Studio. It was a Saturday night, and I felt, why not? When you’re not a kid out clubbing, one gets few opportunities to dance.
The Fred Astaire instructors give these parties for their clients every month or so, so they knew how to accommodate both experienced dancers and people with two left feet. I learned some new things (the rumba) and remembered some I had forgotten.
It came back to me in a rush that I had taken “social dance” classes before. When I was in business school, I took free social dance classes to get away from the tension and have some fun. Back then we did the fox trot (which I forgot completely),waltz, cha cha, Charleston, and the hustle and the Latin hustle. The hustle stood me in good stead until disco died. I taught it to my late boyfriend, who was a big fan of the Latin hustle despite his inability to stick to the beat.
After the party I felt really sad. I had remembered how we used to roll up the rug in the living room of my boyfriend’s apartment and practice the hustle to Michael Jackson’s “Off the Wall” album or the Beegees. His law school gave a “Sleazy Party” and we showed up dressed as quintessential disco dancers, me in a tight blue disco dress with spaghetti straps and him in flared pants and platform shoes. He was convinced we were the best dancers on the floor.
It was a time of endless potential and limitless ambition. We danced with abandon and knew the future was ours.
Some of the dancers at the party Saturday night had been around for the hustle in its heyday, too, and they swung and stepped with enthusiasm. The ballroom version of the hustle is more complex, but it’s based on the same old steps, as one of the teachers commented. “Keep your steps small and you can stay with the beat,” he said. I remember running in high heels on the dance floor to keep up with my partner’s energetic swings in the past.
Wish I could still fit in that disco dress!