One Friday night my Mother watched with interest as I danced to the song “Seven Little Girls Sitting in the Backseat” in front of the HiFi. My Mother screamed for my father to come and watch my performance and told him excitedly that I had a really good beat and maybe someday I would become a professional dancer.
That was the day a phone call was made to a neighbour and I was immediately put into a ballet class after school. I will never know if that was a mistake, but it did stop me from gaining weight for a few years. As with everything else in life I was a misfit from the word ‘go’. I had natural rhythm, but just hated regimental bar exercises and my creative steps were frowned upon. After not being able to dance a series of skipping steps for part of the Nutcracker Suite I was banished from ever becoming a Sugar Plum Fairy and sent to the gallows of the Waltzing Flowers.
Every afternoon at 4pm I danced my heart away in the living room while watching American Bandstand. One day Clark introduced Chubby Checker and I attempted to perfect the dance called The Twist. Over time I had every step down pat and was ready to try my moves at the Grade 5-8 dance in the Cowansville High School gym. My mother had made me a soft royal blue jersey dress with a fake fur collar, and I had on my broken-in Mary Jane shoes ready to go.
The teachers lined up the boys on one side and the girls on the other with none of us knowing who we were going to get as a dance partner. I looked at the tall lanky boy across from me with a tight suit and thin tie and screamed at him,
“Hey you! I hope you know how to dance!”
He nodded and actually looked afraid of me after I yelled at him, which he probably should have been. The Twist music began and the both of us were just like the dancers on American Bandstand. How two people ages 10 and 11 who had never met each other before danced like professionals is beyond me.
After 20 minutes there were just three couples left in the finals and we were one of them. After what I seem to remember as some fancy jumps and spins, we won the contest and each were awarded a Cadbury’s Snack Bar. Jimmy, being the gentleman he was, carefully put the candy bars in his pocket and we danced the rest of the night away.
Later I found my friend Sheila and asked her how she thought we did. She promptly told me that the reason we probably won was that my fast dance movements had kept spinning my skirt around and I was constantly flashing my pink underpants. She deemed it a hands down “underpants’ win.
Years later as I heard Twist music playing during a 60’s revival night in some forlorn corner bar in Sept-Iles it suddenly brought everything 360. With no one wanting to dance I just went out by myself in the middle of the dance floor and twisted solo for three songs.
It was only a dance, for heaven’s sake, but The Twist opened up a new world and it was the first dance in which the genders were created equal. Then again, maybe that gender stuff was all hooey and all I really ever wanted to do was just dance.