Saturday, March 6, 2010

Quit your whining and take ballet! Tap dancing gives me a headache!

Dear Diary,

When I was a young, my sistas and I took dancing lessons from Miss Betty's English School of Dance. Momma let us choose what lessons we wanted to take but put her foot down when it came to tap dancing lessons. She said tap dancing gave her a head ache. I really wanted to learn to tap. I loved watching the old movies where Ginger Rogers, Gene Kelly, or Fred Astaire danced. I loved those black patten leather tap shoes with the black ribbons too.

Sista Lucy took ballet and eventually learned to toe dance. I took a year or two of ballet then got obsessed with John Phillips Sousa and decided to learn to twirl the baton. Sista Janice stuck with ballet and so did Sarah Ann (for a while anyway until momma gave in and let HER take tap dancing lessons).

The memories of my unrequited desire to learn to tap dance came flooding back the other day when Sista Sarah Ann called to say she was taking tap dancing lessons with her girl friends. She wanted to borrow my black patten leather tap shoes with the black ribbons.

I had forgotten or repressed the memory that I had attempted to learn to tap dance as an adult. It was back in 1992 or 93 and I was working at a veterinarian clinic. The Doctor's wife, the head receptionist and I were talking and it came out that we all had a secret desire to learn to tap dance. We made a pact that day to take lessons together. I was pregnant with Elizabeth at the time. I didn't look pregnant, but my butt looked way obeast. The lessons were fun and the three of us had a good time tapping and laughing at our miss steps. Over the weeks we learned a tap routine to Micheal Jackson's Rocky Robin. At work we practiced in between patients and during lunch. We were good! Then, one night in class the teacher spoiled it for us. She started talking about "The Recital", our costumes, deposits and the tickets we would have to sale. Recital! I had no idea when I signed up that we would be performing on stage! I could not wear a skimpy red sequined costume with black fishnets in my condition in front of an audience. My friends had their own personal excuses for quitting that night.

A few years ago, one of my friends at the elementary school talked me into taking tap with her. It didn't take much talking because we were going to learn at the community center and there would be no recital. When we showed up for our first class, it surprised me that only three of us were taking lessons. The song we were learning to tap to was "All that Jazz" from the musical Chicago. It was a lot faster than "Rocky Robin" and I was about 12 years older but I felt like a professional dancing to an authentic dance number. After a few lessons I began to realize that there was a misprint in the catalog because there was no way this was a beginning tap class. The teacher was on my back constantly. It became a chore to go. I couldn't remember the steps and sometimes I would be tapping real good and feeling good then get a glimpse of my self in the mirrors that covered the whole wall in front of me. I would get startled and forget my steps. "Who was that gray haired chubby lady with no rhythm staring at me?" Eventually I just quit going. I made up some lame excuse to my friend every week for the duration of the class. I think it was that I had a headache.