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Chuck Hinman: IJMA. My First Dancing Experience

Chuck Hinman: My First Dancing Experience or May I have this dance? Chuck says, having never had a real date and having never danced, his first experience with opposite sex on the dance floor was dreadful but he got through it and later married a very good dancer.
Next earlier Chuck Hinman column - It's Just Me: My Book

By Chuck Hinman

My First Dancing Experience or May I have this dance?

I was a 17 year old farm boy, just fresh out of high school. I had never had a real date, I had never danced. This looked like the perfect place to change all that. It was bound to start somewhere! This might as well be the place!

There were signs everywhere announcing --
ALL COLLEGE MIXER - Saturday evening
June 3, 1939, 7:00 to 11:00 PM
Hormones dancing and the dance hadn't even started

I was a freshman at Peru State Teacher's College, Peru, Nebraska, and I was 'bright eyed, and bushy-tailed' I guess you would say! My life seemed to be just beginning in so many ways and I was ready! My hormones, whatever and wherever they are, were already dancing wildly -- and the dance hadn't even started!

It was a warm summer evening in June as young people began to gather outside the gym. The air was filled with a mixture of smells. Evening in Paris perfume and assorted unidentifiable aftershave lotions competed with the overpowering smell of the honeysuckle bushes which were everywhere.

A bead of sweat signaling apprehension

This was a new experience for me and a bead of sweat cropped up on my forehead signaling my apprehension at what lay ahead!

It was still daylight when sounds of recorded music, Glenn Miller's very popular "String of Pearls" began to be belted out from inside the gym. Different ones could be seen snapping their fingers to the infectious rhythm of the music as though saying, "Let's get with it -- do-wah!"

The 'mixer' to determine partners

Suddenly the music stopped and an over-amped male voice announced the first dance of the evening -- a 'mixer'! Instructions were bellowed out that the girls were to form a circle in the middle of the dance floor with the boys forming a separate circle surrounding the girl's circle. There were young whipper-snappers, all shapes and sizes, everywhere, some good, some not so good.

As the music began, the girl's circle was to move in a clockwise direction while the boy's circle was to move in the opposite direction. After a few seconds when the music stopped, you were to dance with the partner exactly opposite you. Directions couldn't have been clearer -- let's get started! DO-WAH!

The not very attractive partner decided by destiny

My heart began to pound and the sweat became suddenly profuse as I followed the guy in front of me in a fast moving counterclockwise direction. I began to focus on who my partner would be if the music stopped NOW!!!! My heart skipped a beat and almost stopped when this extremely tall, not very attractive girl came into view!!!

"Oh, God NO -- not her," I thought to myself. I couldn't stand to look as I drew nearer to her. "Please God, NOT HER!" I hadn't been a very religious person but I was getting acquainted with God in an unusual place. Suddenly the music stopped as I was about to faint. "Oh -- No God, it's HER"!!!

There wasn't even a hint of a question who my partner was to be! It was like destiny took charge! Well, here goes nothing! It was time to dance. I had quit arguing with God! I lost! Do-wah!

Leading confuses the inexperienced

We awkwardly tried to decide how to get started. She seemed to be more experienced than I when as we started to take the first step -- she suddenly confused me by saying "Don't you want to lead?"

Lead? I don't know what I want to do! I can't even see with my face even with her breasts! How do you expect me to lead! "You have a better view so you lead," seemed logical!

My mind was obviously confused because of this dreadful experience but apparently I changed positions to appease her and completed the dance. Other dances that evening went off without incident -- probably not so much real dancing but more of an outlet for over-zealous hormones!

Much later marries Arthur Murray dance graduate

Years later when I met the love of my life, Connie, she was an Arthur Murray dance studio graduate and she explained to me the fine points of men 'leading' in a dance. It does have merit!

After that awful beginning, I can't believe that years later with Connie as my mentor and partner, this farm boy actually became a pretty decent dancer. It was like our hormones were agreeing 'he's (she's) the one!' Do-wah!

Written by Chuck Hinman, ImPeruvians Writing Club. 9 February 2004. The last paragraph added from a revised version emailed Friday, 18 June 2010.

This story was posted on 2014-01-12 03:13:11
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