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Jumping the Night Away

What happened to dancing?

On Saturday evening, M and I attended a wedding
reception, a jolly family affair at an elegant Jacobean country house in Surrey.  “Are you
going to dance with me tonight?” she purred invitingly – or pleaded
plaintively, it’s hard to tell which – as we made our way to our table for the
pre-dance dinner.  “Of course I am,
darling” I replied, squeezing her hand reassuringly.  

Now, like many men of my generation, I’m not
particularly keen on any form of dancing, with the inevitable result that I’m not
particularly good at it.  But a gentleman
has certain obligations to a lady, especially to his wife, one of which is
occasionally, and especially on those occasions organised for the purpose, to
whisk, or whirl, her around a dance floor.

Alas, I never did get to fulfill my whispered promise. 

And, if I may say so, it wasn’t for lack of will on my
part.  I hadn’t pleaded that my back was
in imminent danger of going into spasm, or that my feet were sore, or that I was
hung over from the night before – the last excuse one that would at least have
been plausible.  No, I was more than ready
to go, anxious to show willing. 

But late in the evening, towards midnight, when the
band-leader, a tough-looking rocker – from the land of Braveheart, as he put it
– announced sadly that the time had arrived for the final number, the group had
played not a single tune that could be readily identified as music designed to
accompany a few minutes of stumbling ballroom incompetence.  

I have to concede that the band plainly fulfilled its
assignment by playing a score of numbers that persuaded great numbers of
guests, most of them under thirty, to leap enthusiastically from their seats
and take to the floor.  Each and every
electronic blast was designed to encourage a single dance routine, one so stark
in its simplicity that it could be mastered within seconds by a five-year-old,
or even a dislocated string-puppet like me. 
It involved joining a heaving melee in front of the stage, and required
each of us to jump up and down on the spot, arms pumping the air, fingers
splayed, all the while whooping loudly. 

The result was a demented exercise class set to hard-rock;
you’ve probably seen similar, though gentler, routines on early-morning keep-fit
television shows aimed at overweight housewives.

“When are they going to play a waltz,” my wife gasped
in mid-leap, “or maybe even some Abba?”

“I think this is all we’re going to get,” I responded,
noting that a band clad in kilts, leather jerkins, and hob-nailed boots was
unlikely to have spent the morning rehearsing the graceful Viennese rhythms of
Herr Straus, or indeed the wistful Goteburgian ballads of Sigrid Foreskin, or
whatever that delightful blonde Swedish lady is called.                   

After five minutes of energetic gymnastic leaping, we
made our way back to our table.  “We must
be getting old,” M commented sadly, and accurately. 

I’m going to have to get myself in shape for the next


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