“I’m single because I was born that way.” (Mae West)
One of my fears as a single woman is that I will eventually get used to being single. That I will forget how much I loved being married, that someday I’ll forget what at this point I still remember I’m missing, and instead, embrace my absolute freedom, abandon the dream of love and remarriage and remain alone the rest of my life.
I hope I don’t get too comfortable living the single life. In fact, I hope I never get used to it. I still believe in marriage and hope remarriage is in my future.
Another thing I haven’t gotten used to, and don’t know that I’ll ever get used to, is being single at singles functions; especially singles dances.
Let me share the experience for those blessed with marriage who may have missed out on the experience of a singles dance.
Every time I walk through the door I wonder how it is that I have come to be there. How my life is such that I am in the position to be qualified to attend. That the people there are my “peeps,” all of us thrown together by virtue of divorce, failed marriage, death or lost opportunities in love.
Not exactly the commonality I choose to embrace. I have to have more in common with people than that! But such is my lot. So occasionally, I dance to it.
Then I think, “I don’t belong here.” Quickly followed by, “Boy, there’s a lot of heartache in this room!” as I survey the sad scene and unique assortment of people gathered because they’re single and lonely. (At least I assume that’s why they go to those. It’s the only reason I have!)
Even entering the door causes me to cringe.
There I am, 42 years old, being greeted by married couple chaperones as I pay my $4 fee. They stamp my hand. (Crazy, but the hand stamp sort of makes me feel like a teenager again. That’s the last time I remember going to a dance and getting hand stamped–aside from going to Chuck E. Cheese with my children!)
I can’t help but notice the warning sign posted prominently at the entrance: All divorces MUST be final! (What isn’t posted, is that sometimes women are charged a higher admission fee than men. Bummer for single mothers who are the sole parent and support of their four children. But I guess they do it to encourage men to attend? Or maybe there is a shortage of men–even more depressing for a single woman.)
“What in the world am I doing here?” I wonder. I try to hide my mortification that this is one of my few group social opportunities. “Read the sign, Andrea, and then do what you came for: dance.” I tell myself.
“Let us read and let us dance – two amusements that will never do any harm to the world.” (Voltaire)
I walk through the door and continue on into the unknown darkness of the dance floor. As I enter the dance space, I am struck by the unique collection of dance attendees. Sort of reminds me of my favorite See’s candy assortment: Nuts and Chews. An apt description, in many ways, of singles dances!
Here are a few I’ve seen.
*The following are REAL people (although names have not been used to protect their innocence–and because I don’t know their names!)
“Mr. Saturday Night Fever.” He’s 50-something, with a head of thinning, light brown hair, worn long and “feathered,” and looking like something right out of the 1970s!
“Don’t touch the hair!” (Saturday Night Fever)
And to every dance he wears his fitted, WHITE polyester pants, flared at the bottom–apparently all the better to bust those disco moves in! And what ensemble would be complete without ankle boots? Don’t worry, he’s got ‘em!
“Can you dig it? I knew that you could!” (Saturday Night Fever)
Miss Ballroom. She always wears heels and a dress and spends the evening on the fringes of the dance floor, dipping left and right, twirling and dancing with a purpose: to turn every song, from every decade and genre, into a ballroom dance number. And she succeeds. But the thing I most remember about her, besides her dance moves, is her LONG hair (several feet long–reaching to just above her knees), swept back with a big bow right out of the 1980s.
“Long, beautiful, gleaming, steaming, flaxen, waxen… I adore hair!” (James Rado and Gerome Ragni, Hair)
The only thing I haven’t figured out is how she doesn’t trip over her LONG hair as she sweeps around the dance floor!
The Deaf/Mute Man. He is quiet but undeterred from the challenge of not being able to hear or communicate. He asked me to dance, once, by pointing to himself, then to me, then to the dance floor (kind of like the Saturday Night Live club scene spoofs with Will Farrell and Chris Kattan.) I got the message. I thought he was just being “cool.” We headed out onto the dance floor.
He smiled and nodded at me the first few seconds the music played and as we danced, so it wasn’t until he whipped out a pad of paper and pen in the middle of our song that I realized he couldn’t speak. He wrote his name on the paper to introduce himself. Then he motioned to me and handed me his pen and paper. I stopped dancing and wrote my name for him. He smiled, nodded his head, shook my hand, and continued dancing.
Several beats later he stopped dancing, took out his wallet and showed me his driver’s license and employee card from his job; to show me where he lived, that he was gainfully employed and what he did for a living.
A little while later he did the Scout salute and pointed to himself to let me know he was an Eagle Scout. And before the song was over, in an unforgettable display, he showed me aspects of his religion so I would know of his faith as well!
Dancing with him was a memory. The thing I remember most about him is that he smiled non-stop, and every few seconds or so, would give me a two thumbs up signal with a big smile. (I don’t know if he was telling me he was having fun or that I was doing a good job dancing, but it’s hard not to feel uplifted when someone expresses enjoyment of your company and makes you think you’re doing a good job!) A good example for all of the rest of us, especially those in the throes of an unexpected life!
“I can not remember even thinking that I was deaf when I was dancing.” (Stephanie Beacham)
Mr. Cat in The Hat. Picture a real life version of Dr. Seuss’s unforgettable cat man illustration and you will have seen this singles dance participant. His thin, dark, hair starts way back on his head. His expression is droll; his eyelids are “sleepy” looking. And his mustache calls to mind cat whiskers. Reminiscent of the cat’s bow tie, he always wears a red shirt. But unlike the misadventures the real cat provides, Mr. Cat in The Hat is quiet and sticks to dancing. He’s a nice man–I’ve danced with him once when he asked me. I just couldn’t help but notice his resemblance to someone famous…
“We looked! Then we saw him step in on the mat! We looked! And we saw him! The Cat in the Hat!” (Dr. Seuss)
The Cruiser.I haven’t figured this guy out. He is nice looking and dresses normally. But all he does is circle the dance floor, walking around the fringe of dancers. He stares at you as he approaches, looks you right in the eye as he walks by, yet doesn’t make contact beyond that. In fact, I’ve never seen him dance. I’m not sure who, or what, he is looking for. But apparently he hasn’t found it yet!
“Folks, we have reached our cruising altitude now, so I am going to switch the seat belt sign off. Feel free to move about as you wish…”
The Robot.I am not making this up. There is a 40-something man at the singles dances who dances like a robot (everyone from the 1980s will know the moves I’m talking about!) to EVERY SINGLE song. I even saw him do a variation of it on a slow song.
“The top two awards don’t even go to the robots.” (Chuck Gosdzinski)
The Jogger.This slight-of-build man gets your heart rate up just watching him on the dance floor. His dance moves seriously consist of a slow jog, using arms and legs, keeping his head up and smiling the entire time! Not quite Richard Simmons-esque, but quite unlike any dance move I’ve ever seen before! No wonder he has the build of a distance runner–he never stops running, except maybe to walk! (I’ve only seen him dance.)
“Jogging is very beneficial. It’s good for your legs and your feet. It’s also very good for the ground. It makes it feel needed.” (Charles Schulz, Peanuts)
There are a lot of gray-haired people at the dances, too, that have to be in their 60s-80s. Although it strikes me a little bit funny to see them out on the dance floor dancing to Beyonce and The Black-eyed Peas! (Singles dances play an occasional song by Stevie Wonder, Earth, Wind and Fire, or a country song, although the playlist is unexpectedly modern. I don’t know how everyone else feels, but I sort of wish it was more 70s and 80s music. In my opinion, it might make all of the dancers look a bit less “out of place” if we weren’t dancing to the same music today’s teenagers listen to!)
But I admire the seniors for coming and dancing to music that can’t be as good as what they enjoyed in the 1950s and 1960s. They’re good sports! And they totally disprove the old quip that, “An old cat will not learn how to dance.” (Moroccan Proverb) You should see some of them attempt to bust modern moves! I give them an A+ for enthusiasm AND effort!
I also haven’t gotten used to some of the singles dance “traditions.” Here are a few I’ve observed, although I have to confess, I have not participated in any of them. I sit on the side and watch.
Speed Dance. I don’t know the real name for this, but I assume it’s a dance version of speed dating. The men and women form a huge circle around the entire dance floor, everyone with a partner if they have one. The song begins, the dancers do a specific set of dance steps together for about 8 counts, end with a turn, take a step to the side and repeat the same thing with the new partner they’ve moved to. If you don’t have a partner for the count of 8, you stand there or move to the rhythm, and never dispair–one will come to you within the next measure or two!
“The Single Lady” Dance. When the D.J. play’s Beyonce’s “All The Single Ladies” song, all of the women form a large circle around the dance floor and take turns, one at a time, dancing into the center and doing their own moves for a few beats, before returning to the outside of the circle to watch other single women enter the center and dance. They aren’t the only ones watching, though. All of the single men are gathered around behind them clapping and enjoying the performance.
All I can say is, “Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh…” and anxiously wait for the song to be over and the humiliation to end. I have to say the women dancing don’t appear to be humiliated (they look like they’re having a good time.) It’s my problem. I feel humiliated on their behalf!
Has it all REALLY come to that?
“It’s really hard to walk in a single woman’s shoes — that’s why you sometimes need really special shoes!”
(Sex and the City)
Line Dancing.Singles dances have about 12 different line dances they do for specific songs. And they ALL get out and do them!
Although I am grateful single people have a place to go for social experiences and to relieve some of the loneliness, the one thought I have had, each and every time I’ve gone to a singles function is this: “There is NO WAY anyone in this room, including myself, is ever getting married!”
I sure hope I’m wrong.
Because I just can’t used to that, either.