Rest Assured, There Were No Explosions on the Floor

We celebrated Valentine’s Day this weekend.  I’d like to say that a rather romantic event was prepared and executed, but instead we were burdened with loads of spare time on our hands.

You see, owing to our quirky local school district, the kids had a 4-day weekend off, and we had originally planned to go down to Southern Utah, visit family, and see Zion National Park (quite the excellent place at any time of year, but bursting with sweet solitude in the winter).  Originally planned, however — last-minute cancellations, schedule snafus, and bad weather caused us to ditch the whole affair.  Sad!  So we hung around the house, instead.

Therefore, in honor of Valentine’s Day, I’m simply going to talk about one of the more romantic-y destinations Brian and I visited this month.  Namely: public dancing at the Murray Arts Center.  Yep, dancin’ at the MAC!

This is a privately-owned, schmaltzy ramshackle of a building down on State Street in Murray, and on every Friday and Saturday evening, you can plunk down $7 and twirl around a shiny dance floor to the tune of a five-piece band.  The ballroom is rather piecemeal, but glitzy — think of a patchwork quilt made of disco balls — decorated with mismatched chandeliers, thrift-store art, and architectural pieces scavenged from theatrical sets and demolished buildings.

The crowd is stately, lively, and comprised mostly of people over the age of 65.  It is, in other words, just like this:

Yes, I admit, there are quite a few hot-to-trot young couples at the MAC.  But the real stars are the elderly swingers who can MOVE LIKE ANYTHING.  Ladies who adorn themselves in draping fabric and loads of costume jewelry, sashaying elegantly in the arms of their spindly partners. 

Brian and I used to go ballroom dancing quite a bit when we lived in Utah the first time, seven years ago.  Dancing at the MAC was one of the things we missed a lot when we moved to Pittsburgh, and was one of the things I looked forward to revisiting when we found that we were coming back to Salt Lake.

Two weeks ago, it was finally possible to go back — we had babysitting, we rustled up some dancing clothes, Brian donned his soft dancing shoes, and we headed south to get glitterfied.  We were so pleased to find that the ballroom looked just the same as it did years ago!  We strolled out onto the floor, arm in arm —

–and realized that we had COMPLETELY forgotten everything we once knew about dancing. Yeah, we managed to cobble together a collective memory of the cha-cha, the waltz, and the two-step (which may or may not have been exactly like a waltz) but beyond that . . . erugh.  We spent a lot of time sitting on the sidelines, watching the curving machinations of the swingin’ set, turning to each other to squawk, “Hey, look at that move!  We used to know that one, right?”

Occasionally, we’d trot back out to give those newly half-remembered moves another go.  However, the people-watching was what it was really all about.  And the atmosphere, baby.  A shiny, shiny atmosphere.