Friday 4 June 2010


my mum

If you look at January 1st in my dairy from 1989 you will see a list of new year resolutions, among them; “Learn to Tap dance”.

When I looked at January 1st a few months later in April 1989 I was embarrassed that such an important resolution remained unresolved.

Later the same day I cycled through Kilburn, London, near where I was living at the time and I saw a small sign pointing towards a dance centre. I cycled up and looked at the various posters stuck to the closed door – one caught my eye; Tap Class Tuesday Evening.

It was Tuesday!

That evening I returned and leant my bike against the wall and looked through the rapidly steaming up windows – the whole of one side of the building was made of glass – and I saw about thirty people all practicing “wings”.

Now I knew a little enough about tap- I had watched every Fred Astaire movie and I knew who Bill Robinson was - to know that wings were advanced stuff. I remounted my bike and cycled off.

When I arrived at the traffic lights by the Abbey National bank I stopped and waited by the curb as the amber moved to green and finally back to red.

Was I serious? What was the point of writing resolutions if ….

I cycled back, parked, walked in, and spoke to the teacher; - Hi, I’m a beginner, I’d like to learn, do you think I should come to the class?”

“Well, we are working on a routine, give it a try and see how it goes?”

The beginning was fine, it was basically a series of warm up moves and then the routine kicked in and for the next 45 minutes thirty people walked all over me, trampling me into the wooden floor; no matter where I stood someone knocked me over.

When the signal finally came that the torment was over I stood up and went over to the teacher – “I think this is a little too advanced for me.”

“Yes, I think so too”, was his reply.

I cycled home: bemused, bloody and bruised.

The following Sunday I cycled into Covent Garden where Time Out magazine had informed me I would find another class and I parked the bike at the foot of an old warehouse that rose above me. Climbing up the 130 floors of stone steps I could here the tappity –tap – taps coming from somewhere above me.

As I puffed nearer, the tappity-tap-taps seemed to get more menacing as they got louder and finally I arrived at the door of the dance studio.

I pushed it open.
It was the same teacher.
I turned around without a wave and left.

So I went to the Pineapple dance Centre around the corner. It was intimidatingly Lycra and leotard but surely they would have something suitable and I signed up for “tap. Beginners.”

But would it be beginners enough?

On Wednesday I was standing at the back of a tiny studio with about twenty other people between the mirrors and me. All had tap shoes that looked seriously professional, the women were gorgeous in their Lycra leotards and the only other guy, Chinese, had stretch trousers, cut off sweatshirt and silver shoes !!

The teacher walked into the class – tap tap tap tap, piroette, graceful slide.

Oh my God!

“Hello, my name’s Derek.”

I stood waiting, dreading what was about to happen.

“Ok, this,” he said pointing,” this is your LEFT foot and this is your RIGHT foot.”

I looked around; everyone was as relieved as I was.

Getting the level right is important when you are trying to learn something.

(To be continued)here


Vicki Hollett said...

Oh you're so brave! You picked yourself up, dusted yourself off and started all over again! Great stuff!
I'm very impressed and can't wait to read more.

popps said...

Nothing's impossible i have found, so when my chin is on the ground....
Strange coincidence vicki - this song comes from Swing Time 1936 and my mum's tap book, featuring in the next post has an inscription written in 1936!