All those dance lessons have mostly shown us how far we are from being good dancers. The system is set up to get you to learn more, learn more, learn more. Shift from level 1 to level 2, from level 2 to level 3. Adopt the clothes, the culture. Add a move, a styling, a shift of weight you hadn’t tried. And then Saturday night we went to the Whitehorse and danced to a honky tonk band. This is what we wanted all along. A little two step, a little swing, my purse whipping dangerously around my body when I spun. The floor was concrete, the crowd mixed, and we danced all that we wanted to. We danced just fine.
July 18, 2015
Came home to music from the brown room, Chris with a guitar and microphone. Cats as his audience. Cats climbing, entering, inserting themselves. Cats, we imagine, dancing inside.
May 27, 2015
On Monday we are tired, sure we can’t learn how to glide with ease like those West Coast swing dancers we admire. Out on the floor, they spin, they clunk along trying to find the rhythm in cowboy boots, they perfect their turns, pausing to watch videos on a laptop. We arrived too early. While we wait, we sink lower, overwhelmed by how far it is from here to good.
March 30, 2015
For his birthday, we sat at a bar with walls made of salvaged wood, artfully assembled. We ordered the Moscow mules tinted with carrot juice, syrupy sweet. Because it was his day, he sent his back, got a Prosecco instead. Because it was his day, we kept going, away from the $9 tacos and strange grits to patatas bravas and paella down the street. We went to dance class, practiced the left side pass, the invitation. Without knowing it was his day, the women wanted to dance with him. He beamed. We kept going, on to a bar where a band spun Motown tunes, their claps, their side steps, their struts all in time. Ain’t Too Proud, Voulez-vous Coucher Avec Moi, September. We spun on smooth-soled shoes. We threw our hands in the air. He beamed. What I want for him in this year: a little of what the night contained. Bubbles. Dancing. Smoked paprika. Joy.
March 23, 2015
After a long car ride, it’s hard to sleep, my body still hurtling through space. After a train journey, my bones keep jostling for a day. It’s getting like that with the dancing, the movement continuing after the dancing stops. Step step triple-step triple-step. Step step triple-step triple-step. I am lying in bed, but my body is turning under a man’s arm. I am sitting in front of the computer, but my right foot is rock-stepping. I am waiting for the next move. We’ve finished three months of dance lessons and it’s starting to click. On Saturday night on the dance floor we felt like we knew what we were doing. And so Sunday afternoon we’re back at the studio, learning a new pattern. Outside, March enters gray and cold, but the redbuds show off their new blooms.
March 1, 2015
We’d first seen Albert and Gage firing up the dancers at the Central Market Cafe, then followed them to Donn’s Depot for a Wednesday evening show. When we booked them for our wedding, they said they’d learn one new song for us. I knew what it would be: Bruce Springsteen, If I Should Fall Behind. We danced to it in the kitchen, then on the temporary floor in our back yard hours after we were married under the oaks out front. And years later on a Saturday night at Donn’s Depot, we danced to it again. On the floor was the man with the glitter top, the woman in the burnt orange mini with little white boots. We slid right in. Albert and Gage have made the song their own in the six years since we married. But the lyrics are the same. “I’ll wait for you / Should I fall behind / Wait for me.”
February 28, 2015
We know the numbers: 150 people arrive each day, 70,000 last year, Austin straining at the seams. We read rankings for traffic, for construction, for percentage rise in rental rates. But it’s on Saturday night that we can’t deny it. We walk to dinner and find a line spilling out the door and onto the sidewalk for the sausage and beer spot with picnic tables under the trees. We head over to the bistro and sit in view of the doorway where one well-heeled pair after another come through, surveying the scene. When we see the former guitar prodigy, his hair gone gray, we smile at something familiar. Then to the Broken Spoke, where the sign is the same, the ceiling a patchwork of stained tiles and plywood. The wagon wheel is still wheeled across the floor, this time by two unsuspecting tourists from Vermont. But when we try to dance, the floor is so crowded all of our moves are in avoidance, protection. We leave early, once again wondering where our city went. Outside, the five lanes of South Lamar open up for a moment. We race across and find our way home.
February 21, 2015
Not the photo of the skirt twirling in front of the band. Not the upright bass or Chris dancing with Arnica at the corner of the floor. Not the bare trees and rumbling water at Bull Creek, where we hiked in the sun. Not the many students lined up around the floor to learn a clockwise turn. Not the fancy taco or the flight of white wine. This Saturday could be many photos, many stories. Just this stenciling on a tea house wall, and the fact that 79-year-old Jim escorted his wife Linda to the dance floor after telling us that a man who can dance need never seek a woman. They will come to him. And at the Methodist Church, where his mother told him he could always find a friend, he met Linda. Oh, her legs were so long. They still are.
February 7, 2015
Pretty quickly I begin to believe that life is too full. During my time off the days shifted back to the most essential — writing, reading, time with family, long walks on the boardwalk and beyond. When the new year dawned I went back to work, which has meant not just the eight hours a day I spend at the office, but also the active life I was once used to. Happy hours, readings, friends from out of town. Good things, all of them, even when they feel like too much. Meanwhile, the hard news keeps coming. People I love prepare for or recover from health crises, major surgeries, big losses. I carry them with me. I send up prayers. And I know that once I was the one delivering the hard news, and that someday I will be again. We don’t always get a life of too much good stuff. In fact, we don’t often get one. So we pop into C-Boys on a Tuesday evening to marvel at the music of 8 1/2 Souvenirs,the smooth spins of a dancer in a swirling dress. You’ve got to dance while the dancing’s good.
January 27, 2015