“My prom date told me after three box steps that I had no rhythm. Then the Navy excused me from marching. During my tour of duty, I loved to dance and, for a while, was enamored of a girl who melted into me on the dance floor. I expected my blind date, whom I knew I would marry five minutes into our subway ride to the med school dance, to also melt. Instead, after one dance, Lillian said the familiar words, ‘You have no…let’s sit and talk.’ This is where I told myself, ‘you’re going to marry her. She has integrity. Sit and talk, don’t call a cab.’ Years later, we danced again at the hotel near our house. The owner said, ‘Ed, you’re the worst dancer I’ve ever seen.’
With this background, you’d think it inconceivable that I’d ever dance again, but I loved Fred Astaire and Ray Bolger from childhood. I told Lillian, “When one of the kids gets engaged, we take lessons.” Once our son became engaged, Lillian called Fred Astaire Dance Studios. Some 25 years later, the marriage and the dance studio were still healthy, Lillian and I had enjoyed a wonderful time learning to dance together (though she never did master the art of melting). Lillian was a natural. Her built-in rhythm and pitch earned her the compliments of many dance instructors. I received loving tolerance and kind suggestions, continuing to struggle with posture and right vs. left – to say nothing of rhythm. Two years of drumming lessons helped a bit… I got by with jokes.
Along the way, we found my rhythm. We received some pretty remarkable applause at the Americana Hotel one evening as the only ones out on the dance floor, as well as at some professional society dances. I’d say we moved quite far beyond the initial appraisal from the owner of the hotel near our house. Dancing was an important part of our lives. It has become even more so for me since Lillian has passed. In the hospital she kept asking me to continue my dance lessons. She told me: ‘one day when we meet again we will dance, and I want you to practice….’ And I do. I practice at my Fred Astaire Dance Studio 4 nights a week, enjoying the companionship while continuing to learn. Research articles have stated that people who dance stay healthier longer than non-dancers. Though I don’t need that incentive myself, it is nice to know.
I am so grateful to the nice people at Fred Astaire Dance Studios for filling the void I felt in my life, while keeping me healthy at the same time.
This story was reprinted from the Autumn 2014 issue of inSTEP Magazine, Fred Astaire Dance Studios’ quarterly student publication. For more info on FADS’ inSTEP Magazine, look for the current issue at your local FADS studio, or visit our Facebook page.