Monday, January 27, 2020


Isn’t it fascinating how our minds can stimulate unbidden thoughts, usually for only a matter of minutes,  sometimes longer.   We are lead to navigate through many varying topics, recalling events and people in our lives, often encompassing current to past years memories.  

Perhaps this tends to occur more frequently as we age, since I don't remember this happening as much when I was younger.  Maybe my memory bank is over-flowing, or that's the only way to reconnect with some who exist only in my mind now, or I simply have more leisure time to indulge the experience.  So it is, that some now-forgotten incident occurred the other day prompting me to think of dance.  The next thing I knew my mind picked up that dance thread, taking me along on a journey of its own.

I found myself thinking of the movie musicals featuring lots of dancing that were popular when I was a young girl, so viewing them at a local theatre often attracted me --  Gene Kelley, Fred Astaire. Cyd Charisse.  (Decades later brought John Travolta, Patrick Swayze).   Years later the advent of television featured a broad variety of music shows in series and specials with many TV programs featuring their own dance companies.   Choreographer dancers like Peter Gennaro, Debbie Allen come to mind.

My life situations as I matured offered me limited opportunity to dance even socially, but I observed live and other performances at every opportunity.  I recall my mother describing her love of social dancing.   She spoke of sneaking off to go dancing when she was supposed to be at a church event during her youth in horse and buggy days, before cars.  She said she was considered very tall for a girl at 5’9",  so many of her partners were shorter than her which was less acceptable in the minds of some in those days.  Typically, then and in my day, public dancing generally was expected to be between a male and female, but attitudes toward this, too, evolved years later, often with less attention to gender pairings.    

Dancing’s attraction for me actually began in my early childhood leaving fond memories I still recall when, like many little girls, I was enrolled in a dance class.  I have a vague picture in my mind of standing on a stage looking out into a huge auditorium when I was preschool age.   This was our dance recital at one of our town’s two theatres, each originally elaborately designed for stage performances but later adapted to accommodate a movie screen, too.  

I still remember the recital music and some of our simple dance steps for “The Parade of the Wooden Soldiers”.   Further performance details my mother described to me many years later.   She said I was the redhead in a group of four girls consisting of my deceased-a-few-years-ago last living life-long friend, a brown hair brunette.   Our team included also a blond and a girl with black hair. My friend and I laughed with pleasure reminiscing the year before she died about our dance days in the entertainment world.   

Our music and performance wasn’t quite like Harry Connick, Jr.’s version, set here to clips of “Babes In Toyland” but this is a fun well-edited clip though has no human dancers:   

My thoughts swirled on to another special dance memory which occurred during a tumultuous period of my life when I was in Jr. High School.  We had moved across the country living a few months in the Southwest where I first encountered a then minority culture different than my Caucasian one.   I had just entered school midyear when soon after we had a mesmerizing assembly.  On the stage was a handsome young golden-brown-skinned dancer attired in the traditional dark pants, shirt, sombrero, scarf, and his sister in a fancy colorful long skirt dancing their native country’s Mexican Hat Dance to unique musical rhythms much like this video: 

That memory gave way to a recollection from many years later when a male family member became a professional dancer.  Geographic limitations prevented me from ever seeing him dance, but I treasure still photos showcasing that red-haired muscular youth in a ballet performance with limbs extended as he seemed to be effortlessly sailing through the air.   I wish technology had been such as it is today when videos could have been readily recorded for my enjoyment and that of his wife and children, such as with one of his favored Nutcracker Mouse King roles.
These memories, as I noted earlier, all came to me prompted by a single external trigger which was that I wondered if people still square-danced?   I recall my sole experience square dancing as fun at a popular adult club as I was verging on becoming a teenager.   Afterward when describing to friends the experience of “duckin’ for the olive” and “do si do-‘n” I would then offer what I thought was my humorous version of instructions a caller would give: “Swing your partner ‘round and ‘round, pick her up and throw her down!”

This set me to thinking about the relationship between square dance music and country western music, a genre which has had selective limited appeal to me.  Next I recalled hearing line dancing had become popular and I wondered if it was replacing square dancing?   A brief internet search revealed square dance clubs are still all over the U.S., but those who actually square dance, reportedly, are declining in number. 

My thoughts devolved into imagining the advent of the Internet, technology and marketing changes in digital, music and distribution probably having a profound, possibly adverse effect on the sales of "square dance music with callers" recordings – a business in which I then recalled some friends family engaged.   My friends were considerably younger than me, but had died prematurely in the past decade or so due to separate but sad and tragic circumstances. 

All these thoughts are really quite mundane, specifically unique to me as would be yours to you.  These kind of recollections are relatively unimportant in the scheme of our existence, but they are the little aspects of day-to-day living that make up our lives, meaningful mostly to just us.   

Maybe not everyone has such mind-wandering travels as this.  I recall my husband could sometimes become impatient on occasion if I freely went on a mind journey aloud,  though usually just a much shorter jaunt. 

Do you ever allow your mind to take you down recollective thought highways and byways -- sometimes leapfrogging from one seemingly unrelated matter to another as perceived by others -- though actually connected by one small thread, perhaps apparent only to you?


  1. I think we all have mind travels. We are less busy and we have more memories to connect with when we see something in the world. I remember having so much fun at the "Sock hops" in school where we took off our shoes and girls mostly danced with girls.

    1. Sounds like fun. My public high school where we lived in the south at that time in my life had a school board composed of men whose religion didn’t believe in dancing, so we weren’t allowed dances. Hopefully, that wouldn’t be allowed today since it’s a clear violation of the separation between church and state but there are still those today who would erase those boundaries in a variety of different ways and foster weakening laws at governmental levels to erode protections of this freedom.

  2. I haven't done much dancing in my life, and when I did it wasn't any recognisable type of dance, just my own spontaneous movements.

    I don't do much mind travelling either, mainly because my memory is so poor that most of my life is hazy to say the least.

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