Valentine’s Day, Part 2: Waltzin’

Do you need a paramour in order to have a good Valentine’s Day? Perhaps. I’ve had a handful of marvelous February 14ths surrounded by friends (most notable: with 75 APO brothers at Serve in Philadelphia, in 2009). But having one sure does make it nice….nicer than last year’s, anyways, in which I was recently rejected and did nothing except sit in bed, eat cheese, and listen to U2 bootlegs.

(Don’t even ask how many Friday nights I have done just that. I’m like the rock and roll version of a crazy cat lady.)

So this year, I had a date. But before that, I had an intimate evening of heavy breathing with my TNT teammates. 400M hill repeats, oh joy! You’d think, after running up and down Prospect Park’s north hill hundreds of times in the years that I’ve lived in Brooklyn, that it would be a piece of cake. Unfortunately, gravity’s ability to both keep the planets in orbit and kick my ass never falters. But that’s the only way you make progress, right? Right….hills be damned.

Then, after a Superman lite quick change in the bathroom of the store where we stash our bags, I transformed from Sweaty Running Caroline to……well, Slightly Less Sweaty But Disguised With Perfume Dancing Caroline. Straight after practice I was headed out to a ball!

Thanks to our teammate Aimee for snapping the photo.

With hottie teammate and fellow quick-change artist Gina

A ball. A real, honest-to-goodness ball. A Waltz Ball, to be exact. I had heard about it from an email list I’m on that consists entirely of offbeat events taking place throughout the city. And lucky me, there was a gentleman I had been out with a few times before who was down for a little social dance. (“I might need some coaching with the waltz, so bear with me,” he said. “It’s three steps and turning in circles,” I told him. “Just don’t break my toes, okay?” He said he’d look up ‘how to waltz’ videos on Youtube. How thoughtful.)

So I went to one of Brooklyn’s many industrial graveyards, wandered through a couple of warehouse complexes, and then managed to find the enormous warehouse-turned-art-studio where this ball took place. I think there was one space heater for the whole place, so I spent a long time crouched on the first step of a makeshift treehouse, coat over my bare legs, squeezing my sore calves and wondering 1. how much of a workout waltzing was going to be after those hill repeats, and 2. when the hell my date was going to show up so that I could steal his coat as well.

But then he finally found the warehouse, and brought me a Valentine’s Day rose……so I really couldn’t steal his coat after that.

The Waltz Ball was started by a few artists and musicians, and so it had a sweet and quirky vibe throughout. We were instructed to take dance cards, affix them to our wrists, mix & mingle, and then request dances with people by writing out names in their card. Did they actually do this in social dances of yore? I have no idea. Did people actually use these at our ball?

Poor neglected dance card

….Yeah, no idea. I grabbed a pencil and declared myself Loverboy’s dance partner, and we pretty much forgot about the cards after that.

They had a string quartet playing an assortment of waltzes, from funky contemporary dances to the classic Tennessee Waltz. There was a Cupid with a clown nose, skating around on rollerskates and ordering people to dance. Off in one corner was a kissing booth….made out of an old refrigerator box. They had a makeshift bar selling Guinness in cans and handmade orange-ginger chocolates. We all took an intermission from dancing to watch a firebreather and aerial dancers, swooping around the random treehouse in the middle of the floor.

But mostly we danced– clumsily at first, but with more finesse as the night went on. He only stepped on my toes once….but then bought me Guinness to make up for it. Booze aside, it all felt delightfully reminiscent of Delta, my “alternative” high school. Amusing costumes, offbeat decorations, strange people, good times, and a chance to indulge in some un-self-conscious silliness. Far more charming than hill repeats…..or spending Valentine’s Day reliving my last Bruce Springsteen concert and being FOREVER ALOOOOONE.

Monsieur Dance Partner and I tried to snap a photo, but in the low lighting none of them turned out. Here's the most artistically terrible shot.

And of course, having such a fine gentleman as a date made all the difference. {No comment on making out in a refrigerator box, though…..that’s something everyone should experience for themselves!} Apparently he had a good time, too, because we’re going out again. And what, pray tell, will our next date be?

We’re going to see Phantom Menace in 3D this week.


4 thoughts on “Valentine’s Day, Part 2: Waltzin’

  1. In Victorian times, dance cards *were* used, and you danced each dance with a different partner, with the exception of the last dance being danced with your escort (date), fiancé, or husband (the man who would take you home). There was a form to the dance: if I remember what we learned in High School English, there were twelve dances, each one different and presented in a specific order. (The rest of what few details we were taught have melted away over the intervening decades.)

    Extra gentlemen were employed to make sure no lady was without a dance partner for any part of the evening. Also, men who wanted to get to know a particular lady but couldn’t get onto her dance card might “cut in” on her dancing partner in the middle of a dance; a popular woman might thereby have multiple dancing partners during a single dance.

    A gentleman might also “cut in” if he and the lady in question needed to discuss something quickly but privately.

      • Lots of work remaining to be done. We’re beginning to see the means to make the ends happen, but there’s a lot of work and a lot of sorting that needs to be done and no hands (or appropriately-sized boxes) to make it happen. I’ve also been dealing with intermittent cramping in my right calf, and some of the loading at work has been affecting my back, so going home and doing the same thing hasn’t always been possible (nor has the two-hour-each-way commute to Queens helping, other than that I need to pack up the stuff *I* have in Queens).

  2. Ah, I am glad tmana explained the dance card thing so well. All my knowledge of dance cards comes from reading romance novels. XD

    I am envious of your Valentine’s Day Ball! It sounded like a blast. Be sure to let your dear readers know how Mr Gentleman Dance Partner turns out!

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