Practice they say makes perfect and it’s no more truer than when it comes to dancing. You go to your first Modern Jive dance lesson and you learn your first three moves. You go to your second one and you learn three more, but suddenly it dawns on you that you’ve forgotten the three you learnt the week before. After you’ve worked so hard in the previous week’s lesson it can be quite disheartening to forget everything you were taught the week before. Fortunately the human spirit is not so easily defeated, and if you just keep practising one day you will realise that your arms and legs remember what they are supposed to do, without you actually telling them. Getting the moves in to your muscle memory is quite an achievement and its the point when the lessons become more fun. Sadly some people struggle to remember – their muscle memory is still a blank – and they give up.

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

Though you cracked on and got the ironing done, you were still late for the start of the Beginners’ Class. Much to your irritation your BFF’s other friend Jill had called as you pulled in to the car park. ‘Linda says you aren’t coming out again tonight.’ ‘No.’ ‘But you always come.’ ‘Look Jill, I’m running late.’ ‘It’s just that Graham was asking if you’d be there this week, and I told him I was sure you would be.’ ‘Well tell Graham I’m washing my hair.’ ‘Mandy he really likes you.’ ‘Look Jill I’ve got to go. Bye.’

Your anger at Jill increased when you realised the lesson had started. You paid your class fee and rushed in to the main hall. Everybody was paired up. You looked anxiously up and down the lines to see if any of your new friends were there. You quickly spotted Ellie, who smiled back as you caught her eye. Next to her was Janice your fellow newbie. You looked for Paula but it seemed she hadn’t arrived yet. You scanned the rows of men. There was Robert, as stressed out as ever and Peter. Next to Peter was the experienced dancer who had given you that first full dance last week. You’d promised yourself that if he asked you again you’d ask his name. Of course it wouldn’t mean anything.

As the women moved one guy up the line you moved in front of the first man. It was Andy from last week.’It’s Mandy, yes?’ ‘Yes. Have I missed much?’ ‘No we’re just doing the first move still.’ The teacher on the stage explained the move again. Your face showed that you didn’t quite understand, but Andy was quick to put you at ease. ‘I did this move my first week. Just let me lead you.’ You did as he said, and to your surprise you completed the move at the first attempt. To the command ‘One Lady on’ you moved up the line to the next guy. Just like Andy he led you through the move, and once again you followed with little difficulty.

‘One lady on.’ Your next partner was Robert. ‘Oh hi Mandy. I did this move a few weeks ago but I can’t quite remember it even now.’ After being led so elegantly through the moves by the last two partners it was quite a shock that Robert didn’t seem to have a clue and you weren’t much better. ‘Oh I’m sorry Mandy. I just struggle to remember the moves from the previous weeks.’

At the end of the lesson you went and found Ellie. ‘I didn’t think you were coming. I didn’t put you down as a quitter.’ ‘No I’m determined to do this. I just got delayed by some work stuff.’ ‘I think everyone’s here except for Paula.’ ‘Yes I haven’t seen her either. You don’t think she’s given up?’ ‘We had quite a chat after the lesson last week. It seems her husband wasn’t too keen on her coming. It was causing a few problems. She was struggling with the moves a little and I don’t think it was worth the hassle back home.’ ‘That’s a pity. I liked her…’

You were interrupted by Ellie being asked to dance by the experienced dancer you were keen to dance with too. You watched as he once again guided your friend through the moves from the lesson and a couple you recognised from last week. As the dance ended you saw him make his way towards you. You’d ask him his name. It wouldn’t mean anything.

But you would have to wait a little longer to know his name as someone just beat him to ask for the next dance. ‘Oh Robert.’ ‘Would you like to dance Mandy?’  You were about to make an excuse, when you remembered the protocol that you shouldn’t ever refuse the offer of a dance. ‘That would be nice Robert. Do you think you’ll remember the moves?’

That night as you drank the last cuppa before bedtime, you went over that dance with Robert. You had been so disappointed that he had beaten the guy you had really wanted to dance with. Your disappointment had been compounded by Robert’s lack of any notion as to how the dance moves were supposed to be linked together in to something that half resembled a dance. You pictured him again offering his apologies. ‘I’m sorry Mandy. I think I’m slowly getting it.’ You were polite – well you couldn’t not be! ‘It will come Robert’ ‘Do you think so Mandy?’

What happened next was, at the time, quite a roller coaster, but now it just made you smile. You remembered Robert responding positively to your kind words. ‘I just need to practise a bit. So could I have another dance Mandy?’ Your heart had sank as you saw once again the mystery man approaching to ask you for the dance he had lost out to previously. You’d thought about making an excuse. If you could tell Graham you were washing your hair, when you obviously weren’t,  you could surely get out of the torture that was the thought of a second dance with Robert. But Robert had also seen the mystery man approaching and, being the polite soul he was, withdrew his request to dance. ‘Err, no. No, go ahead, please. May be later.’

As protocol would have it, you had found Robert later and, to your surprise, while his dancing was no better, his spirit was definitely lifted. ‘I think I’m getting it. I just need to keep practicing.’ Robert, you still thought, wasn’t much good, but he wasn’t a quitter either.’  Now you allowed your memory to recall your dance with the man you now knew as Malcolm. It had been wonderful, but it didn’t mean anything.

to be continued…