“I want to take you dancing,” he said with a smile. “We’ll go to the studio and have a dance lesson with Natasha and Jack. They are real characters! I think you’ll like it.”
Because I am getting so much better at saying yes to all kinds of new adventures, on Friday I shut my classroom door and jumped into my car to meet this new adventure head on.
I was so excited, but a little nervous that these old knees might scream a bit and stop me from enjoying an evening of swing dancing. I needn’t have worried.
I met Mr. Handsome at his home an hour later, and we hopped into his car for the drive down a long windy road through the middle of nowhere. Fortunately I’ve given him many opportunities to kill me and have decided that he either likes to play with his prey for a very long time, or he’s NOT in fact the serial killer that has cleverly avoided Dateline and the police. (Whew)
He filled me in on the various people that might attend the dance lessons held in the home studio of an eccentric (but very talented) Russian couple. Natasha, the wife who was the official instructor, was apparently a taskmaster who often instructed with a sharp tongue and a firm hand. She loved the traditional waltzes, rumbas, ballroom and swing dances. Her husband, Jack, was a great fan of folk dances, and would probably throw on a sash and insist on starting those dances precisely 60 minutes after our lessons began.
He described several young people who might attend, and some of the veterans who brought their own talents and dances each week. We were also expected to bring a treat, as they held a potluck meal of sorts after the folk dancing sessions. “Do not eat the possum soup that Natasha will bring out at the end. We’re all convinced that she uses road kill, although it’s never been confirmed. Some of the guys love the stew, but I just can’t bring myself to eat it,” Mr. Handsome said with a shiver.
After driving a more than a few miles down a somewhat deserted road, we came upon a tiny town. We made several turns and parked in front of an old, white Victorian home. The back of the house extended all the way down the block, and that was where the studio was located. We walked through the door and I took it all in.
The room was paneled, and lined with shelf after shelf. There were figurines of all shapes and sizes perched all over any available space. There were couches, chairs, benches, stools and tiny tables lining the perimeter of the room. A desk was tucked in one corner, and a table filled with teacups, plates, goodies and various other dining utensils in another corner. My eyes were trying very hard to take in all of the incredible furnishings when Mr. H introduced me to the few participants already in attendance. Dan was an older, soft-spoken gentleman who would turn out to be the instructor for then night. There were two other couples practicing on the floor, and an older gentleman who appeared to be napping while sitting in a chair next to the treat table. He, it would turn out, was a great fan of folk dancing and sprang to life when that part of the session began.
Natasha came into the room a few minutes later wearing a gauzy black see-through skirt, and an adorable black and white polka-dotted shirt. Her patent leather heels were black and well worn, but she still had the elegant figure of a woman who spent most of her life dancing. (She was at least sixty, but honestly had the body of a much younger woman. Dang it.)
She grabbed Dan’s hand and informed us that we would be learning a blues/swing dance tonight. “Is thees okay weeth everyone?” she asked in a sharp but beautiful Russian accent, rolling her r’s with ease.
We all nodded and watched as they demonstrated the dance we were going to learn. It was beautiful! I looked at Mr. H. and raised my eyebrows, thinking it was a bit more complicated than just a waltz.
I spent the next hour laughing, dancing, stumbling, stepping on toes and learning something new. It was nothing less than spectacular! I danced with Dan, who asked me quickly if I had been a dancer, or an athlete. I shared with him my gymnastics background, and he smiled knowingly. “That’s why you step like this,” he said as he pointed his toes as I had. “You need to step like this – gliding- with your feet here and here.” He showed me exactly what to do, and I listened. After several turns with him, he smiled and said, "You've got it!"
Learning the dance in short sections was not unlike the way we used to learn our routines in college. I felt a familiar burst of adrenaline, and a great sense of accomplishment at the end of the hour when Mr. Handsome and I were able to put all of the parts together into a lovely and quite enjoyable dance. I actually followed his lead, and listened to his soft commands. It was nice having someone else take charge, and then dancing was so much fun.
I watched Jack walk to the corner of the room and grab a long sash that he promptly wrapped around his waist. I made my way to one of the couches to watch the folk dance and to give my knees a bit of a break. Mr. Handsome helped himself to a piece of pie, and sat next to me. “You have to do one more thing before we leave,” he whispered to me. “You need to go through that tiny door on the other side of the room, walk down the narrow hallway, through another tiny door and up the narrow winding steps. You’ll find a bathroom at the top. Even if you don’t need to use the bathroom, you HAVE to go there. Trust me on this.”
I was intrigued, and left him to his pie and walked around the folk dancers towards the door to the house. I walked through, and closed the door behind me. I looked up and saw the hallway. It was made of STUFF; piles and piles and piles of stuff. I was shocked as I made my way slowly down this tiny “hallway” made entirely of stuff and my eyes tried to take it all it. There were hundreds of hats of every shape, size and color; clothing; books; boxes and boxes of things I can’t even remember! I made my way up to the bathroom, and then turned to walk back to the studio. Mr. H was waiting for me at the door, with my coat and a huge smile.
We walked outside hand in hand, and I looked up at him and laughed.
“Thank you SO much for sharing this with me,” I said. “You always plan the coolest dates. I loved the dancing, and I loved that you shared these eccentric people with me! What fun!”
And then I added, “But please, PLEASE, next time remind me to bring my phone inside. I can’t believe I didn’t get a picture of any of this!”
“Ok, baby. But honestly, do you have to write about everything we do?” he said with a chuckle.
“Well, I don’t write about EVERYTHING,” I said as I raised my eyebrows. “But you know I’ll write about the dancing! And I’m sure when I write it, words will never do justice to the ‘hoarders hallway’. Oh my Lord in Heaven!"
“Okay,” he said, “Next time we’ll both bring our phones - then we can both take pictures. Only mine will be of you.”
And then, well, hmmm, I can’t write about everything now, can I?