You can dance if you want to


Living in the land of dreaming?

It’s one of those things that after X glasses of wine you think “That was possibly not the brightest thing to tweet after Puffles had been led astray after a #teacamp” but it’s sort of an occupational hazard for someone who really likes a good rioja.

The last two tracks I seem to have purchased was this number by Glee along with anothr one from 1996. As I type this, Danish diplomat and magic dragon follower Karen Melchior is responsible for introducing me to this rocking number from Danish Children’s TV. As an amateur dancer, I LOVE the choreography.

You?!?! A dancer????

Yeah – ‘fraid so. I promised I’d post something along the lines of a dream dance class that I went to back in 2004. This is it.

So….what happened?

The trick here is to describe the whole thing to a non-dancer. Some of you may be familiar with Strictly’s Erin. Before she became famous, she was a contract teacher for Cambridge Dancers’ Club – of which I was a committee member back in the day. In 2003  she and Anton [Tony Beak] du Beke turned up to audition as potential tutors. The society had formal interviews and a pilot lesson, where committee members of varying abilities were the ‘test class’. It was muggins over here who was Erin’s dance partner while Anton took the lead for the class. Before they were famous, Erin danced with Puffles’ Bestest Buddy! You heard it here first!

About a year later, Erin taught an advanced ballroom class. In that class, I randomly found myself paired up with a girl whose name I won’t reveal here, but let’s call here “Alicia”.

What about Alicia?

By this time I had been attending taught dance classes for over 2 years at least 3 times per week. At this class, Erin was teaching us the ballroom tango and the Viennese waltz. In a class such as this, for men it’s assumed that you know how to lead the basic steps of all dances with at least a half-decent amount of technique.

No – really, what about Alicia?

Alicia was a slender NatSci (natural sciences) student with long medium dark brown hair but who hardly said a word throughout. Yet she had the most amazing eyes…and I couldn’t take my eyes off of them. As far as dancing was concerned, the ‘connection’ was perfect. From a tango point of view, you need just the right amount of tension to move the follower (in this case Alicia) to whatever the routine taught demanded. The connection was instinctive as it was instantaneous. Where I moved, she followed – with a beaming smile being the response, even though we had never set eyes on each other before.

With both the Viennese waltz and the tango, you spend much of the time tummy-to-tummy in what is a normal dance hold (though in the case of the tango, slightly ‘crouched’). Yet with Alicia the whole thing was effortless. And these were not easy routines. The tempo was fast and the footwork hard-going. Yet Alicia made the whole thing so enjoyable that at times I could do the entire routine with my eye closed, opening them at the end to see the beaming smile of a beautiful young lady gazing back at me.

So…you got together, right?


If we did, I wouldn’t be here.

A few months previously I had my heart put through the blender. The following lesson that was all about the samba and the paso doble, was one where the person mentioned above turned up. At the time, one of my friends of the time had been in a similar situation. Us men being men it was never easy to see someone we liked in the arms of another guy. So at a previous lesson I said I’d pair up with this other girl for the lesson concerned, knowing that I wasn’t going to run off with her – for which he said he was incredibly grateful. With roles reversed in this lesson, he came up to me and said:

“You dealt with my problem at the last ballroom lesson, now I’ll deal with yours!”

…for which I was incredibly grateful for – because feelings of intense jealousy would have arisen otherwise given my state of mind. That meant someone who I still had feelings for was someone I could ignore in the lesson, knowing she was paired up with a good friend at the time. Then Alicia turned up.


Exactly. We paired up and the connection was instinctive as before. This is what we danced to. Four of the hardest of ballroom and latin dances – paso, samba, Viennese, and tango, we had this instinctive connection. The dance partner I had spent the past two years searching for had finally arrived…and then she disappeared.

For real?

Yep. I only knew her first name. That’s all I had to go on. I was absolutely heartbroken and devastated. Turning up class after class, she never arrived. To this day I’ve not met anyone who I’ve connected with dance-wise in the most toughest of ballroom and latin dances.

Did you find her again?

Actually, someone else found her for me.

That’s stalking, isn’t it?

Not quite. He just knew more about search engines and Cambridge University than I did. Kind of helps if you have a degree & a PhD in maths from the place. So you can imagine my pleasant surprise to receive an email from him saying ‘here she is, and here’s her photo.’ Unmistakably Alicia. ‘…and here’s her email address.’

Now that IS stalking

Again, not quite. I dropped her an email saying I really enjoyed dancing with her and would love to dance with her again. She got back saying she fell out with the Cambridge University team clique and had gone into another type of dance. Yet all was not lost. She was putting together a group to perform in a show in the winter of 2005 and invited me to co-choreograph a set for it.

You  mean you’re a choreographer?

Well…yes. We met up over a coffee to talk things through, and I wasn’t going to say ‘no’.

And it all ended happily ever after?


By that time the connection had gone – and anyway she had a new boyfriend just as I had started what was to be a very short-term relationship. Yet we had found out enough about each other to both work productively with each other to produce a routine to this number by Chicago for a group of six dancers – the two of us included. Yeah – you try dancing in 5:4 timing!!! I still have a copy of the programme from the performance that lists me as a choreographer! I met Alicia’s parents at the drinks reception following the final performance, at which point it became clear Alicia and I were chalk and cheese. I had also split up with my then other half just before we were due to perform – combined with an announcement that we were due to face major job cuts in what was the old Government Office for the East of England.

So…how did it end?

We stayed in touch Facebook-wise and every so-often we’d bump into each other on the train from Cambridge to London throughout 2008. She went on to train at LABAN before going on to work for PwC. Beyond that, who knows?

Do you miss her?

Not so much her, but dancing with someone who made the whole experience so enjoyable and effortless. I never did find the love of my life on the dance floor who would be my dance partner. Perhaps one of the reasons why I no longer dance regularly. I don’t regret having started – ultimately it has taken me to places that I never knew existed and allowed me to have experience dance-wise that I never knew were possible. Dancing a Viennese Waltz in a palace in Vienna – how many people get the chance to do this to the extent that they are competent on the dance floor? (Here’s me with my former flatmate from 2008 in Fulham Town Hall)

Do you think you’ll find “her”?

Prior to my mental health crisis, I always hoped that I would. Post-crisis, I’m at the stage where I wonder whether anyone would be able to put up with a ‘post-crisis-Puffles’-Bestest-Buddy.’ At the moment the answer is ‘no’ – but only because I want to sort my health out first. That combined with my current situation and global outlook in terms of the future makes me think that my destiny is to be the dotting uncle to my nephew and niece/nephew to be.

In anycase, I have a dragon fairy called Puffles, and I wouldn’t really do without anybody else but Puffles. (Have a listen – and a boogie!)

I jest – I’d love to go dancing with the love of my life. I’ve just not found her yet. In the meantime, I have music to keep me occupied.


One thought on “You can dance if you want to

  1. Oh, gosh, you’re so adorable, it made me feel warm and fluffy to read this post! 🙂

    Not that you necessarily wish for my validation, but yes, I can see that it’d be good for you to take care of yourself first. You probably already know this, but to be single and surrounded by beloved friends and family is by and large much better than being in a relationship that’s unhealthy for everyone involved. There is just something so terrible and exhilarating about romantic love which isn’t always present in the bond between friends and family – or at least for me, because I know some people think of love in a different way.

    I’m extremely lucky to have someone who cares for me when my washing-machine head has a breakdown, and accepts my troubled past and present. And he does it without making me feel like he’s doing me a favour or that I am some abnormal creature. It’s all a part of me, you know? And it’s always best to have someone – romantic or otherwise – who loves and respects the whole of you, especially when you can’t find it in you to permit the slightest hint of self-approval.

    It’s really good and decent of you to approach romance without thinking the universe owes you a girlfriend for x or y reasons, but at the same time, I hope that you will eventually meet someone marvellous when you’re ready – or maybe they will find you…

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