When we first ask someone to dance we know very little about them. There’s not really a lot we need to know. We do however need to know two things. The first is the level of their dancing. If you are a beginner it might not be a good idea to ask the best dancer in the room. You’ll probably feel more comfortable dancing with someone of your own level. Secondly you might want to know they are friendly. Most people are, but some are more friendly than others, and a friendly face is less likely to turn you down your offer of a dance. Other than that we know very little. We have no clue to the job they do, and we have even less of an idea if they are successful or not. Dancing is a great leveller. People from all walks of life will share the same dance floor. Your only concern is to enjoy dancing with your partner and it would never occur to you to guess the size of their mortgage.

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

You are really excited. It is a long time since you had invited friends over. You’d had colleagues from work round, of course, but it had hardly been relaxing. Too easily the conversation turned to the problems of reaching the new targets you’d set in an effort to grow the business. This would be different, mainly because they would be little conversation – there was little need for it. Tonight was for dancing. It was a chance to practice without worrying what other people were thinking of you. Your dance buddies were all at a similar level, and they all wanted to help each other. They would be here soon and you still had to move the pool table to the edge of the games room. Then you would have a large clear area to dance on.

Ellie was the first to arrive. ‘What a lovely house Andy.’ ‘Thank you.’ Robert made a similar comment, ‘Wow Andy nice place.’ Your discomfort was only increased when Janice asked how much the house had cost. Mandy was the only person not to comment on his home, ‘Thanks for inviting us all Andy. Is Peter here?’ ‘Yes he managed to get away from work on time.’ ‘Oh, so Malcolm won’t be coming then.’ You are pleased to give Mandy the good news. ‘Yes he’ll be along a little later. I thought it would help to have someone experienced on hand to help.’

After making sure your guests all had a drink, you got the evening going. ‘I thought that as Ellie is probably the best dancer amongst us I’d ask her to be the teacher.’ Ellie was happy to take the lead. ‘Why don’t we start by doing the moves we learnt the other day. I’ll partner Robert, Peter you pair up with Janice, and Mandy you dance with Andy.’ You had spent your whole business life telling others what to do, but now it felt good to be just one of the guys.

‘Now we just need some music,’ ‘Here, Ellie, just use the remote control. I’ve sorted a playlist. Just press the play button.’ From invisible speakers, in full surround-sound the strains of a dance track filled the room. The friends then danced all three moves together. ‘That looked really good. Shall we all move round one, and do the moves twice through, with our new partner.’ The friends followed Ellie’s instructions and performed the moves better than they had in the class earlier in the week. ‘Well done everybody.’ Ellie then picked out one of her pupils for extra praise. ‘Robert that’s the best I’ve seen you dance.’ ‘Thanks Ellie. I think it’s finally clicked.’

You’d started about the same time as Robert but you seemed to pick it up a lot faster. You’d noticed how he had struggled, but you were impressed that he’d never missed a lesson. For all his discomfort at not being able to lead his female partner fluently through a full dance track, he had never given up. You had secretly admired his determination and you were pleased that your little get together had obviously helped him. Another person who impressed you was Ellie. She was doing a great job in her new role as a dance teacher. Once again she mixed up the couples and then went slowly through a new routine that she seemingly made up on the night. You couldn’t help wonder if she was a school teacher.

The evening had been a great success. Malcolm had joined them later, and though he was a lot more experienced than Ellie, he was happy to take a back seat and simply help out when anyone struggled a little. ‘That was great fun and thanks for the lesson on spinning.’ As requested by Janice, Ellie and Malcolm had spent time going through the technique of spinning. ‘I can see how I’ve been doing it wrong. I think I’ve got it now.’ After almost an hour of teaching Ellie had suggested that the group have a mini freestyle session. Again everyone showed an improvement in their dancing and they were all eager to show off their new found proficiency at next week’s class night. Peter was particularly pleased with his new found confidence. ‘Can’t wait to get on the dance floor again. It’s so stressful having to lead your partner and its embarrassing when you get it wrong. I think I’ll be able to relax and enjoy it a bit more.’

While your friends danced together you prepared a light meal. You all then retreated to the conservatory, that overlooked the flood lit swimming pool. ‘This really is a wonderful place you live in Andy,’ ‘I suppose I’ve been lucky Ellie.’ ‘I suspect there’s more to it than luck Andy.’ You gave her a brief resume of your career to date and then asked what she did. ‘You did that lesson really well this evening. So are you a teacher then?’ ‘Well I work in a school but I’m not a teacher. I’m an assistant school admin officer.’

You had guessed she would have held a down a more senior role, but you just never can tell. Robert’s job also surprised you. Perhaps you were influenced by seeing him struggle to connect with the rhythm of the music and seemingly always forgetting the moves he had been taught the week before. You felt very humbled when Robert explained that he was a senior lecturer in engineering at the local university.

As you reflected on what had been a wonderful night with your new found dance buddies you wondered what Mandy did in the world of work. You hadn’t really had a chance to chat with her as she had appeared to disappear. You had later realised that she had stepped outside, to sit by the pool with Malcolm. They’d chatted together for sometime. Perhaps his work colleague had found out what she did. He’d ask him tomorrow. He’d also ask him if it meant anything – them being outside – chatting.

There was one other thing to consider. Ellie had made a suggestion at the end of the night, ‘Look we are all really doing well. How about we all go to a freestyle together. There’s one next weekend.’ You had actually been quite negative, ‘But we haven’t even moved up to the Intermediate Class.’ ‘So what. We proved tonight we can do the beginners’ moves really well. You guys know enough moves to get through a whole track and we girls can follow as long as the guys keep it simple. We can always just dance with each other. It will be a laugh. What do you think Robert?’ ‘Yes I’m up for it.’ In your business life you had never shirked a challenge. Surely you could make the leap. Surely if Robert was keen to go to the freestyle, you could be equally enthusiastic.

to be continued…