Dance with me

A couple of weeks ago, Mark and I went with some friends to dance at The Broken Spoke. It’s been a minute since I had a hand stamp, so I thought I’d share this picture with you.

The Broken Spoke, for the uninitiated, is a decades-old honky tonk in Austin. It’s a little less honky than some places; for example, there’s no chicken wire between the patrons and the band to protect the musicians from beer bottles, fists, chicken fried steaks, and other potential missiles. But the Spoke still has a creaky wooden floor, mixtures of all sorts of uncomfortable chairs at the tables, and a lot of beer flowing, despite the face that the building is now surrounded by high rise condos and apartments. On a given night, all sorts of folks will be dancing there. You can tell the serious couples because they have on matching outfits – or Stetsons, as was the case of a black-hatted couple the night we were there. As usual, some of the dancers were giggling, some were grimly determined, and more than a few were very well lubricated indeed. We had one particularly notable couple in that last category. They were dancing without leaving the requisite room for the Holy Spirit between them, but that wasn’t enough for the guy in the couple. He made a grab for his partner’s ass during a turn and nearly dumped both of them on the floor. In a feat of unparalleled upper body strength and sheer drunken mulishness, his partner managed to get them upright again. It was an impressive display on her part. I almost clapped.

Now, this wasn’t the first time I’d been there. I have some history with the Spoke. Bear in mind that I attended a grand total of zero dances in junior high and high school. But it’s sort of a law that you have to go to the Spoke at some point if you’re in Austin. I first went there as an undergraduate at the University of Texas in the late 1970s. Other than the facts that I: 1) didn’t like beer then; 2) disliked country music; and 3) couldn’t dance, it was great. After a halfhearted attempt to master the Cotton-Eyed Joe (a line dance) and only learned enough to yell “Bullshit!” at the right time in the dance, I declined further invitations for, well, decades.

The problem – or the providence, depending on how you see it – is that I married a guy who likes to dance and is actually quite good at it. For many years, I was sufficiently self-conscious about dancing that I’d only do so in public if we were with people I’d never see again. So, for example, I’d happily dance on cruises. That’s been lots of fun. One memorable cruise dance happened while we were on the Norwegian coastal ferry in December 2013 to see the Northern Lights and decided to visit the lounge when our evening’s entertainment, a Swedish guy with an electronic keyboard, was playing and singing. It turns out he knew half of the lyrics to “Crazy,” so Mark and I gamely tottered about on the pitching dance floor; said floor was only about the size of two card tables, but we had fun. And last February we danced in the lounge area on our Nile cruise boat, attired in gallebayas and eventually joined by the guys tending bar. That was fun, too.

But I got braver over the years. I’ve danced at several weddings now, including our daughter and son-in-law’s (and we knew we were going to see them again) and at a few fundraisers and charity events. I still am about as graceful as a moose and have a tendency to try to wrest the lead from Mark, but about a decade ago I had an helpful epiphany about dancing. You know how many people in the whole universe care whether I can dance well? One. Me. No one else gives a flip. And then a couple of years ago I had another epiphany. You know how many people even notice how I dance? One. Me. (Maybe Mark if I step on his feet.) On the dance floor, I’ve quit caring how little people might think of me, because I realized that they were thinking of me so very little. This is truly liberating.

So you know what? I’ve decided that what I’ve learned about dancing applies to a lot of other areas of life as well. I have crooked teeth, but I’m going to smile in pictures. I laugh too loudly but feel free to guffaw when something amuses me. I have wrinkles and age spots, but phooey on makeup. I’m going to wear sandals whether or not my toenails are polished and jeans because they’re comfortable and bright colors because they make me happy. If anybody has a problem with that, they’re welcome to keep that tidbit to themselves.

So the next time you’re feeling awkward or self-conscious or too old for something, feel free to join me in not giving a shit. Instead, visualize me holding out a hand to you as the band begins to play. It’s our song, folks. Come dance with me.

9 thoughts on “Dance with me

    1. Thanks! I’m looking forward to seeing you, too! We will be back in a couple of weeks! Hugs in the meantime!


  1. Bravo! When I catch myself lamenting my advanced age I cheer myself up by remembering that this age has gifted me the I-don’t-give-a-shit’s and it’s wonderful! To the dance floor! 💃 🕺


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