I love that old Irish proverb that says something like “dance like no one is watching.”
I thought of that last Friday night while sitting in the park in Paso Robles, listening to the music and watching people of all ages dancing. There was even a fellow who inched his way to the dance area using his walker.
At day’s end, it is the same scene whether in Paso’s Friday night concert series, Templeton’s Wednesday night events or Atascadero’s Saturday night concerts. People love to dance. I see toddlers bouncing to the music much the same way octogenarians do, and with much the same relish.
And I watch with glee.
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But I don’t dance. Don’t ask me!
That’s because I know someone will be watching me. In fact, in my mind I think everyone is watching me, and only me. I can visualize finger-pointing and laughing from people I don’t even know.
Even when my wife, Eileen, and I took swing dance lessons from Dan and Sharon Davis at the Pavilion a few years ago, I couldn’t stand it when either of them “watched me.” I wanted them to ignore me, but they wouldn’t. I guess they probably felt some sort of obligation to help me improve. After all, the lessons weren’t free.
My wife kindly reminds me that no one is watching just me dance. That’s because she’s not looking at who’s looking back at us. She’s just enjoying the dancing.
I will admit the dance lessons through the city’s recreation program gave me just enough courage to dance in a public place. I don’t know that the Davises made me a better dancer, just that I don’t care as much.
This is more a statement of my own stiff demeanor that I can’t seem to shake off on the dance floor, or, in this case, dance grass, than of the Davises’ ability to turn me into a dancer. Maybe I should give them credit for at least making me try.
And even when I’m not out there jumping up and down, it doesn’t mean I’m not dancing in my heart.
My favorite of all the bands who share the park bandstands up here in the North County is Monte Mills. Those who know me are aware that I haven’t listened to any “new” music since 1959. I’m still stuck on the big-band sound, a little early rock ‘n’ roll and country swing.
So Mills and his group get my feet tapping and, on a few occasions, out of my lawn chair to actually dance, even though everyone is watching my every move.
Lon Allan has lived in Atascadero for nearly four decades. His column appears here every week. He can be reached at 466-8529 or firstname.lastname@example.org.