Movin’ and Groovin’

I cannot dance. Clearly the family dance gene skipped over me. It went to Carly.

Grandma and Grandpa loved to dance, which you should all know was a common bond between them when they first dated and continued as long as I can remember.

Both Grandma and Aunt Marian chose dance lessons over music when they were younger, and they were taught by their cousin Gertrude and her father, their Uncle Jim Downey. Their great uncle, Jack Blue, was the most famous member of their family other than their Irish-inventor cousin Louis Brennan.

Uncle Jack was a dance instructor who taught many famous actors and actresses how to dance back in the twenties through the forties and was the dance master/director for a famous Broadway singer/composer/dancer/playwright named George M. Cohan. (Maybe you know some of his songs: “You’re a Grand Old Flag,” “Yankee Doodle,” “Give My Regards to Broadway,” or maybe you are all too young.) Uncle Jack, according to the family stories, was in Ripley’s Believe It or Not because of his talent as an instructor despite never taking a lesson himself.

Grandpa showed me a few of his moves, but when it came to “fast dances,” I was clueless until the “big date.” It was during college, and my friend Karen and I met some guys somewhere who took the two of us out on a date. The date was uneventful and clearly not very memorable. All that I remember was that the names of our dates were Ken and Irv, and we went to a bar not far from  campus.

While Karen and I never saw Ken and Irv again, that night in the bar is memorable to me because that was when I realized no talent or instruction was needed to get up and dance to a song with a fast beat. We were sitting in the bar when a song began to play. Ken, or was it Irv, grabbed my hand and led me to the dance floor. I had no choice but to dance because I would have looked ridiculous if I just stood there. So that was the day when I learned my dance moves, and that is why that night in a bar in New Brunswick is forever etched in my memory.

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