A chance hearing of an old song bought back some very happy memories from my early teenage years; of nights spent in the embrace of older, more experienced women. Now, before you spray your toast all over the table, let me explain; I am referring to old time dancing.
Many moons ago, I used to tag along with a mate and his family to the various dance halls around the district, and being a young teen, I’d put on a bit of a show of complaining about having to go, but secretly I quite looked forward to those evenings, and rarely missed a night on the boards.
Apparently Confucius once said: “Never hand a sword to a man who cannot dance.” Had he seen me in action, he wouldn’t have passed me a butter knife.
I quickly grasped the basics, but it took some time to completely co-ordinate my feet with my partners’, and any other dancers within a twelve metre radius.
Positioning myself behind the good male dancers, I tried following in their steps, which instantly left me half a step behind everyone else. Eventually I was rescued by the older, and more experienced, women dancers. Those sweet smelling saints soon steered me right, although I suspect they were motivated by a keen desire to prevent me causing a multiple fatality on the dance floor.
As I was a mere four foot two inches tall, and about the same weight as a burnt stick, they found it fairly easy to shove me into the correct position while hissing, “Left foot forward, right foot back! Step back, spin… not you! Me!” And by sheer persistence, encouragement, and the odd hit from a cattle prod, I soon learned to dance.
We Foxtrotted, Boston Two Stepped, and Pride of Erin-ed. And one night at the old Trocadero hall in Yarroon Street, The George Ambrose Trio got us Gypsy Tapping so hard that dust fell from the ceiling. It was probably asbestos but we didn’t care.
The ladies never mentioned the height difference, and from somewhere beneath the overhang, my head enveloped by clattering jewellery, my face threatened to crack from smiling too much.
Great memories indeed. I spent the rest of the day with a dreamy grin on my dial, humming as the ghosts of the past swayed by. And the name of the song I overheard?
Sentimental Journey, of course.