|(Image via: harlemswingdancesociety.blogspot.com)|
Shoowee. It’s already February twenty bloody sixteen. Despite the economic doomsayers, I think it’s going to be a good year. Well, for me at least, because I finally graduated. Yup, that’s right, the long haul is over and a quarter of a century after everyone else my age got their degree, I got mine (not exactly a trailblazer eh?) What can I say about studying. For one, it’s made me a bigger person. No but seriously, I don’t know how other students manage to stay slim (I suspect a diet of Ritalin and vodka mostly). As for me, all that sitting around reading and reading and reading (and vodka) has left me with a physique that very much resembles an onion; wide and bulbous with a tiny cocktail onion for a head. I now officially have a body that’s “made for writing”.
Whilst trying to find the funny, bloggable side to this dilemma (I couldn’t, it’s just not funny), I remembered that I had committed to writing a series of embarrassing moments. Oh the wealth of stories to choose from. I could write about the time I told the actual man who invented luminous zinc that I thought it was “ridiculous” (how was I to know that it was him who invented it?) Or, I could write about the time that I told an old family friend that I thought the title of “Honourable” was a big fat wank and that the “British gentry should just get over themselves”, only to later find out (when he kindly wrote out his home-made Van der Hum recipe for me on his personalised stationery) that he himself was in fact, a “Honourable”. (Oh to have the super-power of being able to go back in time.)
My story for today, however, involves an injury, a bit of whiskey, and Mambo Number 5.
When I was still a rep for a fabric company, I had the chance to exhibit our fabrics at a huge home-textile trade fair in Frankfurt. With a one year old toddler at home, most of my evenings pretty much consisted of reading nursery rhymes, sleeping and not sleeping. Needless to say, I was rather excited at the prospect of getting away for a few nights.
When I discovered that the opening night of the trade fair was a fancy dinner for all the exhibitors, I was pretty darn stoked. No cooking for me McGee, AND the chance to mingle with real, live adults. As if dinner “out” wasn’t exciting enough, I could barely contain myself when they introduced “someone special” who would be performing for us.
Enter Lou Bega, whom most of us generally know as the “guy who sings Mambo Number 5”. With a full belly and one to four whiskeys coursing through my veins, there was nothing I could do when Lou busted out with Mambo Number 5, but jump up and dance. I have vague recollections of trying to drag some of the other exhibitors onto the dance floor. They weren’t at all keen but I wasn’t going to let that hold me back. No sireee.
And so it was that I found myself spinning around to Mambo Number 5 in a feverish, rather desperate kind of way (as though the fun might suddenly end and I might be imminently summoned to “put the baby to sleep”, you understand). Safe in my anonymity, I unleashed my most daring dance steps. One of these dance steps – and to be quite specific about this, you will probably NOT see this move on a MTV video – involves doing a spin with one leg slightly bent and raised to the back. The leg position is called “attitude” and it is a very nice lifted-leg-spin move when done just right. When it is done wrong, and in a spinning motion, by a dancer wearing bulky boots, who might be a little unstable on her legs, it can be, well, a little violent.
I’m not sure what made me try this move. Perhaps it was the feeling of being “out on the town”. Perhaps it was whiskey-infused boldness. Or perhaps it was the fact that I was just paces away from the “guy who sings Mambo Number 5”. Anyhow, the poor woman who was dancing in my “radius of spin” wasn’t to know that she should probably stand back. After all, most of the other exhibitors were dancing in a very neat step-together-step-tap kind of way. It must’ve come as quite a surprise – coupled, I suspect, with some sharp pain – when the toe of my boot connected with her crotch.
As the impact broke my spin, the whole world slowed and the music stretched out like a LP record on slow-speed. I will never forget the look on the injured woman’s face; there were a million questions right there, like: Who is this crazy woman? Who let her in? Why is she dancing like that? Why does my groin hurt?
Whereas this incident might have heralded the end of the evening for most folk, I didn’t let it curtail my night. Nope, I carried on dancing like a person trying to wrestle off a straight-jacket (I may even have lost some items of clothing) and fell into bed in mess of big hair, sweat and worn out caterpillar boots (note to self: investigate choice of footwear).
The next morning, I had vague recollections of the “foot-in-crotch” incident but figured that everyone else probably also had their own embarrassing injury story to tell. At the very least, I pinned my hopes on the fact that it had been pretty dark on the dance floor – dark enough that no-one would recognise me at the trade fair.
It came as a rude surprise then, when I walked past one of the exhibitor’s stands and overheard a man say “Da gegt das Mädchen, das wie ein Verrückter tanzte”. This translates roughly to: “There goes the girl who was dancing like a crazy person.
And for the rest of the trade fair I had to stay away from whiskey, music and Mambo Number 5.