I Never Danced With My Mother

It is 1975.Ballroom Dancing

My mother, frustrated that our father doesn’t dance, has decided my brother and I will make up for his failing. Under threat of loss of allowance, once a month we are driven with some of the neighborhood girls to Call’s Fine Arts Center to attend cotillion.

This is where Bobby Burgess, Mouseketeer and lead dancer on ‘The Lawrence Welk Show’, learned.

Chloe Call announces the first dance.

“Gentlemen, please rise, cross the room and select a partner for our first dance, which will be a foxtrot.”

Kami Current is a safe pick. I know her and hope that she feels my pain. I take her white-gloved hand in mine and place the other in the small of her back. We await further instruction.

The music begins. We look at each other. Other couples are dancing. I flag down one of the assistants.

They stop the music. Mrs. Call asks ‘How many of you aren’t familiar with the foxtrot?’ Two hands go up – Kami’s and mine.

And so, it begins.

Mom thought they would teach us, but these kids have been coming for several years, have grown up with it. These are parties where they practice what they know. Lessons are added to the bill, held an hour before the party each month.

I block most of it, save for the night Laurie Ronson wears clogs when we do the polka. I get a kick out of Laurie. So did the kid in front of us when her clog goes airborne.

Out of protest I refuse to dance with my mother.

But one night, at the Blue Café in Long Beach, James Intveld is playing roots rock. There is a woman there who doesn’t know how to dance. I take her onto the floor and tell her ‘Just relax’. She does, and I lead her around the floor like I know what I’m doing. We have so much fun that when Intveld and company take down their gear and head to another gig at the Foothill, we go with them.

Mom has been gone now longer than she was in my life. One of my greatest regrets is that I never danced with her.

I would give anything to dance with her now.