Off the Press
October 20, 2009
By Bob Taylor
When I gotta dance, I’ll leave it to the celebrities
Gotta dance! Gotta dance!
One of my favorite scenes from “Singin’ in the Rain” is where a naïve, bespectacled young fellow hits the big city and sings “Gotta Dance!” I know how he feels. Sometimes, I feel like I gotta dance, too.
Unfortunately, I have no talent for dancing. My dancing is like, well, like listening to Roseanne Barr sing “The National Anthem” — it’s painful.
I am a member of the Two Left Feet Gang. Despite this quandary, I have turned into a big fan of dancing.
Now, this might not sound like the most macho thing for a longtime sports writer, but one of my favorite programs on television is “Dancing With The Stars.“ I know, I know — a lot of people probably thought it was WWE’s Smackdown. Nah, I’d rather watch high school wrestling than pro wrestling any night, but that’s another story.
Actually I’ve watched “Dancing With The Stars” for the past three years, developing a huge respect for stars who are taking up ballroom dancing for the first time. Some, like former Olympic Gold medalist gymnast Shawn Johnson, have become quite good. Johnson became a “Dancing With The Stars” champion. One of my favorite stars was NFL standout Jason Taylor, who made it to the final round in 2008.
Then, there are members of the Two Left Feet Gang — stars who just don’t dance very well. I have admiration this year for such fellows as former Dallas Cowboy star receiver Michael Irvin and ultimate fighter Chuck Liddell.
Watching Irvin sometimes is like watching a buffalo methodically thundering over the Wyoming prairies. Liddell, whose nickname is “Iceman,” often moves more like an iceberg. Neither will ever become a Fred Astaire or a Gene Kelly. However, I do admire their courage.
Tom DeLay is another person who impressed me. I will never agree with the former majority leader’s politics, but I thought DeLay did a fairly good job on the dance floor before going to the sidelines because of stress fractures in both feet. He wasn’t fancy, but he seemed to grasp the fundamentals of most dances.
Ballroom dancing isn’t easy for some people, especially those who can’t make coordinated movements to music, or become so nervous on the dance floor that they turn into Frankensteins. Do any of us recall Cloris Leachman? When she was “Dancing With the Stars,” her instructor often drug her across the floor. Somehow, she stayed on the show until midseason. Not bad for someone who’s 82.
I’ve had some experience with ballroom dancing, and dancing in general. My introduction to dance came in a Scandinavian community, where a schottische was popular on Saturday evenings.
By the time I got to high school, I had taken a few lessons in the old box step. In high school, well, you could always identify my dates — they were the ones limping or wearing steel-tipped dance shoes. Actually, that’s an exaggeration. Usually, they asked, “Could we sit this one out?“
In college, I did take a dance class that was offered by the physical education department. My partner, bless her soul, was very understanding. She discovered early that I had limitations when it came to dancing.
We worked hard preparing for the final exam. She wanted an A in the class; I just wanted to pass. For the final, we did the tango — quite quickly. Not once did I step on either one of her feet. She was happy, the instructor was amazed, and I actually got a B on the final, and a B in the class. I think it’s the last time I ever felt like an above average dancer.
So, my hat is off to Irvin, Liddell and DeLay. I understand what they went through in preparing for those dances. Yes, it was often painful to watch them on television.
But, sometimes, you just gotta dance!
Bob Taylor: 392-6434, ext. 236, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.