For organisations to work they need rules. You’d think we’d get enough rules at work and that our leisure activities would need to be free of them, but its as if humans need structure to operate effectively even when they are relaxing. Take Golf Clubs: they have more rules embedded into their traditions than is good for them and, if that wasn’t enough, they have committees constantly creating new rules. These committees then rule on the rulings. Modern Jive Dance Clubs are not immune from having a rule book. It’s one of the reasons why Modern Jive is a thriving dance community. There are three rules that are reinforced at every opportunity – Rule 1: The guys are in charge (regrettably for the men only on the dance floor), Rule 2: Nobody should refuse an offer to dance, and Rule 3: The girls can ask the boys for a dance. 

To read the previous chapters in my tale of a fictitious group of beginners click here

You are a woman on a mission – to get your ironing done by seven o’clock. You’d better crack on as you still have a top and skirt to iron for work tomorrow, and you could do without the call from your BFF Linda. ‘So Mandy, are you coming down the pub tonight? We missed you last week. The guys were on great form. It was such a laugh.’ The boys being on great form usually meant they were telling stories of drunken weekends watching England play rugby. It just didn’t appeal anymore.

‘I’m sorry Linda, but I’m busy tonight. Its my dance class, remember.’ Your friend wasn’t impressed. Your status as BFF was in question. You had looked forward to your second lesson from the minute you got home from the first. It had got off to a questionable start with the ‘speed dating to music’ stuff but on reflection everybody was just being friendly, and in the end you had realised that the idea of working your way up the lines of male partners was in fact a good idea. It meant you got to try the moves with more experienced dancers and every time you were paired with another beginner it helped you realise that you weren’t the only one not quite getting it.

The beginners’ refresher lesson had been a great help. Because there were just seven of you it was easy to get to grips with the moves, follow your partner’s lead, and ultimately dance the sequence twice through without any mistakes. You had then ventured back in to the main hall, where the second freestyle session was in full swing. It was an amazing scene. So many people having a whole lot of fun and not a glass of wine in sight. You couldn’t help but think about your friend Linda standing in the pub with the boys from work. You had long been bored with it all and here right in front of you was something so much more exhilarating. You watched in wonder as couples danced seamlessly in unison.

You couldn’t help wonder just how long everyone had been doing it and how long it would take before you were as good. You couldn’t take your eyes of the dancers and slowly became transfixed by one couple dancing right in front of you. Though you knew the man would be leading,  (you remembered how the teacher had joked about Rule 1 – the men are in charge but only on the dance floor) but the couple seemed to be dancing in unison. You guessed they had danced together for years. As the dance ended you followed the man as he chose his next partner. To your surprise he asked Ellie, who you had met in the beginners’ class. Again you were transfixed as he effortlessly guided Ellie across the floor. You tried to spot if he did any moves from the lesson but you recognised none. So how did Ellie know what to do? Perhaps you had misheard her when she said it was only her second lesson.

To your surprise the same dancer had asked you for the next dance. You now remembered with embarrassment how you had broken Rule 2. When the dance ended the man had followed Ellie off the dance floor and then offered his hand to you, ‘Would you like to have a try?’ ‘Oh. No thank you. Its my first night.’ He’d accepted your refusal with dignity and went to find someone else. You instantly knew you had done the wrong thing and Ellie confirmed it, ‘Why didn’t you dance with him, you should have done.’ You had offered a frail excuse, ‘But I only know the three moves we did tonight.’ ‘He knew it was your first night Mandy. I’d already told him we were both beginners. He’d have taken it easy and there’s a good chance you would have enjoyed it as much as I did.’ ‘I feel terrible, Ellie.’ ‘Look why don’t you ask him for a dance later?’ Rule 3: Remember the girls can ask the boys to dance.

As you finish off ironing the skirt for work you think how you had bravely asked the guy in question to dance. Ellie had been right about him taking it easy. He had made sure that you had the rhythm, then he danced the three moves from the lesson. What followed was a bit of a blur as he led you through moves you had little idea about, but somehow you managed to follow. You went wrong a couple of times but each time he simply reverted to the basic move to ensure you had the rhythm again and then off you both danced again. You still couldn’t believe you had completed a full dance track and enjoyed it so much. Hopefully he’ll ask you again tonight, and Ellie will be there too.

to be continued…