... and that was just my shoes. My feet were killing me!
So last night was my third Ceroc night and GBM came along to join in the fun. And Oh, What Fun.
The dance floor was packed. So many people turned up for the beginners lesson that there were four rows of us squished in to the hall, and I only had to miss one turn when the ladies briefly outnumbered the men. During the beginners lesson, I danced a turn with Jim, a scotsman who had deeply hurt my feelings in the very first lesson I'd had, tersely spitting "yer all o'er the place. ye'll have te be better than that if yer want te dance wi' mee!" after my slippy boots had let me down. But this time he exclaimed "My gawd, yer fantaastic. Look at yer go. Yer look phenormenaaal. Ye'll have te come back agen". Psycho.
After the refresher session, the freestyle session was heaving - like one huge mosh pit. I seemed to spend more time being spun in to other people and apologising, but there was little need - all the dancers seemed happy to suffer for their art. Most of the beginner men grabbed their coats and left early, which meant that the men then outnumbered the women. This theoretically meant more time on the dance floor for me and less time sitting on the side like a lemon.
And it did. But although it increased the chances of avoiding Jim, it didn't seem to increase my chances of dancing with the men that I wanted to dance with. Every time I took a short break, and scanned the dance floor to look for the guys my age who looked like they knew their stuff, I was approached by men that I had overlooked. Literally.
I must just have a very kind face, or something, because 80% of the men that I danced with were shorter than me. Some significantly so, if you know what I am saying. Okay, do I have to spell it out? I seemed to dance with more than my fair ratio of men who were less than 5 ft tall and much as I enjoy learning from every dancer, there is something slightly uncomfortable in trying to do a double-handed turn with bent knees, and something a little offputting about dancing with a man who is eye level with your chest.
Not that all of them stared at it, of course. Probably because there isn't anything much to stare at (which is just as well because every week I dance with one short man who asks me to 'bounce'...)
But I didn't just dance with short men. Oh no. I danced with old men and I danced with slightly crazy men too (like the very tall, hippy guy with wizard's grey hair who led me through an entire song with his eyes shut, his head back and his mouth open). I also danced with men who looked as though they were about to go ten rounds with Mike Tyson, such as the guy who looked like one of the original T-Birds from Grease, and danced as though he was frustrated at being overlooked for the role of Danny. Every time I made a mistake (which - given that my feet were very sore by this time and he was trying to showcase at speed - was pretty often) I apologised, but judging by the look on his face didn't think I had apologised enough. But at the end of the song, he beamed a warm, wide smile and said "Thanks so much for that - you did really well. Really well. You were great!" Blimey. That was better that the headbutt I was expecting.
It was only looking back at the end of the evening that I felt that I had been slightly short-changed (pun intended) but I still went home with the largest grin on my face. Why? Because I danced for two songs with Martin (who was taking a week off from being a Taxi Dancer).
It took a while too track Martin down, partly because he seemed to be in such high demand, and partly because the dance floor was so incredibly packed that it was virtually impossible to pick him out. Plus it would be risking life and limb to hover nearby in readiness to pounce.
But at long last I got my chance, and to my delight, danced with him to 'Sway' by Dean Martin, plus another follow-up song which was similarly dramatic. There is something so delightful about dancing with Martin. He is used to leading beginners and therefore I find him quite easy to follow and make fewer mistakes. When I do make a mistake he picks up the gap effortlessly.
I laughed the whole way through each routine as he led me in to turns, holds and a couple of fabulous dips - every move appropriate to the music and every second expressed with such joy.
I could go on. No, really. I could go on and on and on and on. The same way I went on and on to GBM and Belle Grey on the train home and for a couple of hours afterwards, when we all traded stories and compared bruises, and I repeated the same thing again, and again and again. As if they didn't get the message the first time.
Anyway. The long and the short (sic) of it is, it seems that being trodden on all night, being bruised and beaten by numerous elbows, spun in to oblivion by over-enthusiastic men with dancing styles that I can't quite grasp, dancing with weird men, grumpy men, short men or old men doesn't ruin my evening at all. As long as I get to dance with Martin.
Heaven help me when he doesn't show up.