My few ventures onto a dance floor with the missus usually ended up with some good Samaritan rushing up, reaching into my mouth and grabbing my tongue to keep me from swallowing it.
"I'b okayb," I'd say as I broke out in a flop sweat from embarrassment. "I'b nob habbing a theibure. I'b jub danthing. Pleab leb go ob by tongueb."
It is not pretty.
You know that Seinfeld where Elaine does her little thumbs-up kick dance? Was that supposed to be funny?
Got it? I really, really can't dance, and I'm not just talking that free-form fast stuff, where all you have to do is twitch rhythmically. As for slow dancing...let's just say the resemblance to a shuffling, brain-munching zombie from Night of the Living Dead has been noted. And swing dancing, with all the kicking, twirling, jumping and jiving? C'mon, you have got to be joking.
Helen Cantril, the friendly, entirely too optimistic president of the Fort Worth Swing Dance Syndicate, insists that the syndicate can help. "So, you're saying you're super white?" she asked when I explained the situation. That's OK, she said. "We can teach just about anybody to dance."
"Just about," she says. Hah! There's always a catch, and it's usually in my hip.
Nevertheless, for those of you with a greater sense of rhythm or with less sense of dignity, the FWSDS is offering its first swing dance workshop and dance this Sunday at Fort Worth's South Side Preservation Hall. Chandler Smith, an instructor from Southern California, will be on hand to teach the kick swing, which is described as "a variation of six-count East Coast for fast tempos," along with musicality, intermediate styling and footwork and a course called "Lindy: Rebuilding the Basics."
Incidentally, if you understand any of that, I hate you and all your graceful kind. No offense.
Three other teachers will offer instruction in other forms of swing dance and styling as well. None of it involves advanced aerials, Cantril says, just good, solid basics.
Cantril swears that all this dancing is actually "fun," and you don't even need to bring a partner or wear a zoot suit. Dress comfortably and be prepared to dance with whoever is available. It's more sociable that way and much better practice. Swing dancing has faded in popularity from the days of the Gap ads, but the syndicate still gets a devoted crowd of hard-core dancers, and similar societies exist in cities across the state. If you're into it, you can always find a place to dance, she says.
"You don't have to be scared of it," Cantril coaxed. "It's not scary at all."
Well, not to me anyway. But what about those poor innocent bystanders?