Saturday night I went to bed with the biggest smile on my face. I couldn’t stop smiling! I had unexpectedly experienced one of the sweetest nights in a long time.
Cam and I had arranged to meet halfway to get together and have lunch. I left about 11:45 and drove my two hours to meet him in Greenville. On the way, I passed through the small town of Big Sandy. Yes, the name is ironic because the town in t-i-n-y! I think maybe two traffic lights and a population of a little over 1,200. Passing through, I knew there was a place to dance off Hwy 80. My eyes happened to catch site of the sign, “Dance Saturday and Monday” and I thought, “If it’s open when I come home, I just might stop.” A friend of mine, Laura, and I had talked about going one night. We had joked about going there and learning to dance from the ‘old timers.’
On the way home, I hit the town of Big Sandy about 6:50. I had decided to do something. It didn’t matter if it was just watching dancers or going to the Gladewater Opry. I just couldn’t make myself go home to an empty house on a Saturday night. I’m suppose to be in the prime of my life and connecting with people, not being pathetic and sitting alone in my house.
Since, I had Mexican food for lunch with Cam and Madi, and crazy hair from the wind, I stopped at the Dollar Store and bought a toothbrush, toothpaste, nail polish, and a comb. The Dance Hall is right next to the Dollar Store, so I pulled into the parking lot and begin to paint my nails.
A few cars were parked by the building. I wanted to wait to see what type of people would be going inside. I looked it up on my phone and it said The Dance Hall had a ‘family’ atmosphere. I sat there in my car as my fingernails dried. I begin to doubt if I was brave enough to enter alone. I put a little toothpaste on the toothbrush and brushed my teeth. Spitting into the bag, I watched as four cars pulled in and two older couples got out and went inside. Next, it was two single ladies and a lone man entered. I thought, “It’s now or never.” I walked inside.
Behind the door, sat a lady. She smiled and said, “Hello.” I smiled back and paid my $5 to enter. I told her it was my first time there. She welcomed me and told me there wasn’t any smoking or drinking. (I felt pretty good about that). She told me I could sit at any of the tables that didn’t have a name reserved on them.
I walked around and nodded at some people. There were various people visiting with each other. Most of the people were older than me. I smiled, bought a Diet Coke, and took a seat at a table without a name…close to the dance floor. I felt a little conspicuous by myself and because I was dressed in long shorts instead of pants. Most ladies were dressed in long pants or long skirts and boots. Many of the men had cowboy hats and boots on too.
As I was sitting alone. An elderly gentleman was making his way around the tables saying hello to various people. When he came to my table, he shook my hand and introduced himself as Bill. He was dressed in jeans, a black vest, a light-colored shirt, a black cowboy hat, and boots. He asked me if I was new and I introduced myself. He asked me if I liked to dance and I laughed and said, “No, I’m just here to watch the dancers. I can’t dance.” He said that he’d have to change that. I said I think it over. We smiled and he walked on.
In a bit, another man came and introduced himself as Joe. He was closer to my age. He was only about 5’7″ or so and had a round belly. He was dressed in jeans, a plaid shirt, and boots. No hat. We introduced ourselves and once again I told him, no I didn’t dance and was just there to watch. He said, “Oh, I can teach you.” Obviously, he didn’t know I have two left feet.
The band started playing at 7:30 and the floor begin to fill with couples dancing hand in hand. There wasn’t any simple swaying like I had done with John the few times we had danced. These couples moved around the floor counter-clockwise. They really were beautiful to watch. Their feet moved in unison, one pair moved forward and the other moved back, and then they turned moving further away.
The second song began and Bill came to my table. He said, “Come on…this is a waltz. You can do it.” I said, “I’ll step on your toes.” He replied, “That’s okay, my toes have been stepped on before.” Who ever said chivalry was dead? This guy, as old as my dad, stood in front of me holding out his hand. I hesitated just a moment and then thought, “What the heck, no one knows me here.” We stepped on the floor and I put my hands in his.
I would like to say that it was magical and I danced like a dream, but that’s not what happened. I tried to look down to watch our feet, but he told me not to look at my feet, but to look at his eyes. I had trouble matching his steps and I was very stiff. He said to try to relax and we made our way toward the band. He talked, I smiled, and I apologized for not being able to match his steps. However, we made it three-fourths of the way around the floor before the music ended. I was an awful waltzer, but I didn’t care. I tried and it was fine. I thanked Bill for the dance and went back to my table with a huge smile on my face. Sitting, I watched more dancers and Facebooked my joy because I wanted to share my bravery!
It wasn’t too long before Joe came and asked me to dance the two-step. I hardly hesitated. We walked onto the floor. Unlike Bill, Joe did know how to help me count at first to keep my steps. He was right when he said that the two step is easy to learn. I could even do it! He was easy to talk with and he encouraged me as I loosened up. Occasionally, his belly brushed mine as I danced backward. I tried not to get tickled when it happened. We were just passed the band when the song ended. The dance floor was so large that I hadn’t made it around not even once while we danced.
I went back to my table and watched and listened. Bill came over and sit and talked. I smiled. I could tell he loved to dance. He would get up and dance with other ladies. There was an older lady at the table in front of me who obviously loved to dance also and he danced with her several times. He danced with me one other time and this time he stepped on my toes several times. My feet just wouldn’t move out of his way.
After that, he told me his life story. A retired Army officer who had been through Korea, Vietnam, and then to Washington and married twice. He retired after 23 years of service. I could tell Bill was still a lost soul. My heart aches that he lives alone at the end of his life. He is 84 years old and he told me he just broke up with a young gal of 73. “Age,” he said, “is only a number, not a state of mind.” I’m sure he’ll continue to dance.
Joe ask me to dance again. I happily two stepped with him. We moved across the floor and the music ended. Joe asked, “Do you want to dance another?” The music started and off we went. Just a few moments into it, Joe said, “I think you can twirl now. It’s easy and I’ll tell you when I’m going to twirl you and my hand will guide you.” It was easy! I had so much fun….I went around and back and then around his back, grabbed his hand and repeated. I’m sure I giggled. Everyone should get to experience that! When the music ended, he twirled me one last time. I hugged his neck and thanked him for taking his time to show me how much fun it was.
It was a simple building…nothing special to look at. It was a country band….and I don’t know country songs. It took courage to stop and go in by myself, but it was fun!!!!
Yes, I drove home with a smile on my face. I took a shower with a smile on my face. I went to bed and fell asleep and I’m sure I had a smile on my face because on Sunday I awoke…..with a smile!