Quick, Quick, Very Slow

Jobs for the weekend:

All the old shoes to recycling

Make the meat sauce

Learn the bloody rumba

Yep, learn the rumba. Dash it, dah-ling, I simply cannot get my hips to move properly. I know, too many years of playing football and cricket, going forwards and backwards when I should have been swaying seductively sideways. No matter: I’ll lock the office door, crank up YouTube and have another go…

You’ve guessed it. Eight months after confidently stating that Jane and I were going for ballroom dancing lessons we finally made it. All our ducks – and children – in line, no more frozen shoulders or stray niggles in my groin. This was it.

“What shall I wear?”

“Well, trousers would be a good starting point. And for goodness sake stop pacing up and down. You’re wearing a groove in the carpet.”

So I was. Extreme pacing: which equals extreme nerves.

Our speaker’s just dropped out. Can you help? There are 800 people in the audience…

I’ll be there in ten minutes. No problem at all. And no nerves either.

So why has learning the waltz in a church hall, probably with a dozen other people, reduced me to jelly?

“I’ve been practising,” I blurted out.

“Who with?”

“On my own.”

“What, on your own in your office?”


My wife arched her eyebrows. “Let’s hope that’s not the pinnacle of your dancing career, darling.”

“That’s what I’m afraid of.”

“What have you got on your feet?” my wife suddenly asked.

“What? My shoes obviously.”

“I’m checking the soles, sweetheart. I don’t want you to stick to the floor.”

Sticking to the floor sounded quite an attractive option. At least then Jane wouldn’t be in A&E with a crushed foot.

“I won’t stick to the floor. You watch: I’ll glide around like that new Russian bloke on Strictly. Gob or whatever he’s called.”

“Gleb,” my wife replied. Somewhat wistfully I thought…

And with that – courage screwed to the sticking place and my wife fantasising about a smouldering Cossack – we were off.

Forty minutes later we’d waltzed and we’d foxtrot-ed. That was, we’d waltzed backwards and forwards in a straight line and suddenly found ourselves two yards apart in the foxtrot.

But my wife still had two functioning feet. And I was loving it.

As long as I could match the steps to a sport I’d played I was fine. Admit it, Bruno. The foxtrot’s just like playing squash…

“Right,” the remarkably patient Kate announced. “We’ll finish with a rumba.”

At which point the wheels fell off.

“Bring your foot forward and sort of press it on the floor. Like you’re stepping on a switch. And sway your hips.”

My stomach lurched forward. I stamped viciously on the imaginary switch. “Maybe needs a little work there,” my wife murmured.

Apparently the rumba comes more naturally to women. Something to do with wearing high heels.

Anyway I’ve spent the last week trying to sway my hips. I’ve walked down the garden swaying my hips. I’ve swayed to the corner shop. And I’ve swayed sexily through a conference call with some blissfully unaware clients. The lock on the office door is working overtime…

One more thing. A confession. Something else I’ve been wrong about all my life. (Does that particular list never end?)

I thought ballroom dancing wasn’t very… well, ‘manly’ I suppose. Was I ever wrong about that. Number one, it’s hard work. Number two, leading a woman round a dance floor – really leading her – is about as manly as it gets.

Not that I’m there yet. My wife may need to dream of Cossacks for a little while longer…

Thanks for reading this post. If you enjoyed it – and you’d like something light and moderately humorous to read – you can buy the ‘Best Dad I Can Be’ sample book with 27 of my favourite posts covering all the years I’ve been writing: it’s all of 99p on your Kindle. Alternatively the first chronological book, ‘Half Dad Half Fish’ which covers the time when the children were 9, 7 and 4 is available here




  1. I once had the honour of dancing properly with a guy who knew how to lead – most amazing thing ever!

  2. Welcome to the team! I agreed to take part in Ballroom Dancing classes with my wife for her 40th birthday present … and although it took a while to get started, we’ve really enjoyed it. It is good exercise physically as well as mentally (especially if you are leading).

    What few talk about is that it is also a fantastic way to get quite close and intimate in a public arena. There’s an added ‘frisson’ to that which is great for ‘life’ partners (but probably gets hushed in case it creates discomfort amongst ‘dance’ partners) because it does allow you to get closer in a fun way.

    As for being manly … the truth is that it is about being, quite literally, “in the driving seat” more than issues of gender, but they can get confused, as they often do in the car. It is interesting, though, how hard it is for some (male) partners, to get used to the idea of having to take all these decisions on their own, and to communicate them effectively … or maybe that’s just me.

    Learning to dance comes in many levels, and the steps and hips are only one part of it, … wait until you are dancing with your head as well. Its knackering!

    Oh, and I look forward to your future posts about Floor Rage 🙂

    • Yep, I can see it being really good physical exercise, Robert. Trouble is, we’re not going fast enough at the moment!
      And neither am I doing a good job of leading. So busy concentrating on my arms, feet, posture that I forget all about leading. Know I have to get it right though as I watch my wife being whisked round by the instructor and can see what a difference it makes. As to the frisson, yep, working on it as hard as I can…
      Actually got as bit discouraged in lesson #2 – couldn’t seem to get anything right. Just convince me that it ‘clicks’ will you? And not sure about ‘floor rage:’ that’s not ‘Blood on the Dance Floor’ is it?

      • Leading comes later – you can’t decide on what step to select, and how to telegraph it to your partner, until you have both learned those steps in the first place. Don’t sweat it yet … but it is a big transformation when you do, and it feels great. Like graduating from being the best go-kart driver on the track, to being given the keys to a car on the open roads – you are suddenly free!

        It took us quite a great many lessons to get any one step right, so don;t worry. They all have their personality. Try them all, learn short routines for each, then start to focus on a few favourites (ours are foxtrot and quickstep).

        Floor rage is road rage on the dancefloor … learning “floor-craft” is harder than taking a cross-town drive around rush hour Paris.

        • Will report back after lesson 3 tomorrow night. Waltz, foxtrot, rumba for us at the moment. Sadly have just come down with stinking cold so wife unlikely to be swept off her feet by close physical contact…

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