It seems that one of the drivers off evolution is to create more leisure time. Advances in technology have led to ever more labour saving devises, and the general raising of living standards, have meant that we can now work less hours for the same level of income we enjoyed in the past. Unfortunately its not quite turned out like that. The more technology saves us time, the more we use that time to indulge ourselves in more technology. We could be spending the extra time walking in the park and listening to bird song but for some it just means more time watching our social media feeds. We could all work less but we seem to be working more. It seems we need more and more money to buy more and more stuff. The balance seems all wrong and simple pleasures seem to have gone out of fashion.

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

You are a successful male executive. You have all the trappings of a successful career, but you have no time to yourself. As you progressed up the corporate ladder you took on more and more responsibility, and while you were good at delegating, your own work load just kept on growing. Your work-life balance was tilted towards work. But it didn’t matter because since your divorce your social life seemed to have petered out. Most of the friends you had when you were married, preferred to remain loyal to your wife and the kids had long flown the nest. Your friends were now your work colleagues and there was little outside of work that took your interest, except perhaps, crashing out in front of the telly with a gin and tonic.

You knew there was more to life than work, even if it did pay for the Ferrari and Hugo Boss Suits. You knew you had to find some kind of social outlet, to rediscover the simple pleasures of life. Walking had never really appealed and invitations to participate in sport had been turned down as often as offers to watch sport. “So Andy, what are you doing tonight?’ His fellow director was just as shattered after a long day in the boardroom, but he thought they both deserved something better than a night watching more episodes of Game of Thrones. ‘I’ll just crash. Have a beer and get an early night.’ ‘So you don’t fancy going dancing then?’ ‘I haven’t got the energy Malcolm, and I don’t see how you have after a day like today.’ ‘You use a different kind of energy Andy, and its amazing how good a stress buster it is.’ Your friend had been dancing for three years now, and by all accounts he was fairly good at it. ‘Another time maybe Malcolm.’

That ‘another time’ had finally come about five weeks ago, and now you wished you had taken up your friends offer months ago. Malcolm was right – dancing used a different kind of energy. In fact, rather than sap your energy, it seemed to give you more. But this form of dancing had two further virtues; it was, as your friend had suggested a great way to relax, and secondly it had given you something you had been missing out on for years – friends from outside of your work. You look around the beginners’ refresher class and they are all there including Robert. He was the kind of guy you would have passed over at work, but this was somehow different – after all you shared a common goal with him. You had progressed a lot faster than Robert, but that didn’t stop you wanting to support him in his struggle to smooth out his moves.

At the end of the refresher lesson you had suggested to one of your new dance buddies a way that might help Robert. In fact it might help all of you. ‘Ellie are you doing anything on Thursday Night?’ ‘Why?’ ‘Well I thought it might be an idea for a few of us to get together and practice.’ ‘Who were you thinking of?’ ‘Well you and Mandy maybe, myself and Robert and so we keep the numbers equal I also thought about asking Peter and Janice?’ ‘Yeh, it sounds a good idea, but where would we meet? We’ll need some space.’ ‘Well I’ve got a large games room at my house.’ ‘Thursday night is good for me. I’ll ask the other two girls.’ ‘Great, I’ll ask Peter and Robert. We can do some practice and then I’ll cook us all some food.’

In the final freestyle you had asked Mandy for a dance. Though it was only her second lesson, and your fifth, the dance went extremely well. At the end you were both complimentary to the other. ‘You led that really well Andy.’ ‘Thank you. Am I right, this is only your second lesson?’ ‘Yes but I’ve always loved dancing.’ Well you’ve certainly got the rhythm for it.’ ‘Thank you Andy.’ ‘Did Ellie ask you about Thursday Night?’ ‘Yes, but the problem is I’ve promised I’d go out with the girls.’ ‘Oh well.’ Mandy had sensed your disappointment. ‘I’ll try to get out of it. Who’s coming?’ Well Robert for definite. I’m sure if he gets a chance to practice between lessons it will really help him. I also asked Peter, but he thinks he’ll be working late. Ellie and Janice are up for it so if Peter can’t make it I’ll ask my friend Malcolm.’

As you drove home you felt pleased that you had asked your new friends round for a practise session. You were sure it would benefit them all. Janice had been particularly pleased. ‘Can we practice spinning?’ In the lesson the teacher had spent time teaching the women how to spin. The girls do a lot of spinning in modern jive and it was important for them to get the technique right at an early stage. You couldn’t help but smile to yourself, as you recalled Janice saying how difficult she found spinning on the spot. ‘I struggle with my balance.’ The magic word ‘balance’. You remembered the fun you had had that first lesson. You had vowed there and then that you would get the balance right between work and pleasure. Inviting your new friends round was a big step in that direction.

As you put the Ferrari in the garage you remembered another moment involving one of your new found friends. You hadn’t realised the significance at the time, but now it made you smile. Right at the end Mandy had come rushing up to you. ‘Did you say Malcolm would be coming to make up the numbers?’ ‘Yes. He’s a really good dancer. I thought he could give us a few tips.’  ‘Yes he’s a lovely dancer. Look Andy, I’ll definitely be there on Thursday. I’ll call my friend Linda. She’ll probably be cross with me again, but I love my dancing, and I just want to get better.’ You couldn’t help smiling as you had wondered if it had meant anything.

to be continued…