My first social dance was at 11 or 12 years old. My granddad loved to dance and he was going to make sure I got a start. So he took me to the local rodeo where the live country band played inside a chicken wire fence on a basketball court.
Granddad bought me a moviestub ticket and had them staple it to the collar of my shirt. I was pretty terrified by this time. But then he stood outside the fence and said, “Go on in there.”
“Do what?” “You are not coming?” “No, Go in there and dance.”
Dance? I had never danced in my life. This was something akin to the frontier way of teaching boys to swim by pitching them in the river and saying, “Come to Daddy.” “Yikes!” is only the tip of the feelings that boil at that moment.
So I went. I wandered shy and out of place through lots of young people enjoying the music and the dancing. Many were real cowboys from the many ranches around our small town called Spur, Texas.
Granddad called me over to the fence for coaching. “Ask that one to dance?” “I don’t know how to dance. What do I do then?”
I don’t know what happened then. It seems like I obeyed and asked her and said something like, “I’ve never done this before.” If that happened, there was an awkward moment when I kind of just stood there holding her in dance position wondering what to do next.
Maybe it was then that Granddad called her over to the fence or maybe Granddad coaxed the girl to go up to me, I don’t remember. Anyway, he asked her to teach me the basic two step.
She did and away I went doing this side together step step clunky beginner two step. I loved the music and moving to it, but the overwhelming feeling of this nice girl doing this for me, an out of place pre-teen who had no idea what I was doing, argh!
Whew! That was over. I stood around for a while, probably asked my Granddad if I could stop now. “No, no, ask her to dance again.” “Yeah right, this hurts.” So I did and she was nice and danced with me again.
I did not know what to do. So I stood around and asked her a couple of more times until she said, “Ask someone else to dance.” That was it. I had to get out of there.
Granddad’s ticket did not go to waste, but however short a time that was in the dance pen was way beyond what I could handle.