Sunday, June 12, 2005

Anniversary Waltz

I hated being single. It was a lonely life, and not much fun in bed, either. But what exit strategy would work?

One of my girlfriends from shul (synagogue) persuaded me to come with her to her favorite hang-out. She plunked me down on a chair in her apartment, plastered make-up all over my face, fiddled around with my hair, and dragged me to a singles bar. Unfortunately, I’ve never cared for booze, and I do much better with people whom I meet through shared interests and activities than I do with a room full of miscellaneous strangers. I lasted roughly an hour, then fled, bored out of my mind, never to return.

So, when another congregant whom I knew from his d’var Torah (Torah discussion) at a Tikkun Lel Shavout (a study session on the first night of the Feast of Weeks) and from Erev Shabbat (Sabbath eve) dinners in the shul suggested that I join him at a folk dance session, this former ballet student’s interest was piqued. Granted, this was one of those invitations that aren’t clearly dates, described so well in a recent New York Jewish Week article (probably by Esther Kustanowitz, of and My Urban Kvetch,, but still, an evening of folk dancing had to be better than another hour in a singles bar!

Well, of course, I was totally lost at my first folk dancing session. First of all, I had to learn the rules:

1. Never get in front of the leader (in a dance that has one) unless you know the dance well enough to be the leader!

2. Don’t join the circle unless you know the dance well enough not to trip over your own two feet, or anyone else’s. If you don’t know it yet, just stand outside of/behind the circle, preferably behind someone who knows the dance very well and whose footwork is easy to follow, until you pick up the steps. Then, feel free to break into the circle.

But there was one particular dance, Hora Mamterah, that drove me nuts. On the fourth step, the entire circle of dancers would leap into the air and do some fancy footwork while airborne. What was that all about?

My dancing partner (for lack of a better description) offered to take me back to his apartment and show me how to do that particular step. Now, is that a classic pick-up line, or what? :) But I’d known him for a year or more, so I trusted him enough to take my chances. So we went to his apartment, he put a record of Hora Mamterah on the phonograph, and then . . .

. . . he showed me how to do that step. It turned out to be a simple Mayim step (also known as a grapevine step), with a leap after the first step. This is what he showed me: Left foot cross over right foot in front, right foot step to the side, left foot cross over right foot in back, right foot side, left foot front.

And after all his hard work, he didn’t even make a pass at me.

Not then, at least.

Which is one of many reasons why we’re celebrating our 28th wedding anniversary today.

I hope we dance together for many more years.

Here’s a link to one of the Punster’s favorite websites. (Note: Mixed-dancing alert [though most of the “line” dances are probably "kosher"], and possible “kol isha” alert [for those gentlemen who accept the interpretation that it’s forbidden to listen to a woman sing], as well): Pick a link (by title, dance type, choreographer, or date posted), then click on a specific dance link, then scroll to the bottom of the page to view the video. The video quality varies. In case you’re wondering, here’s the homepage:

P.S. Any of you who haven’t yet congratulated PT and his gorgeous wife, “Mrs. Balabusta,” , on the occasion of their 18th wedding anniversary on June 8 are cordially invited to click on over to and add your good wishes to the comments to the Thursday, June 09, 2005, post “The Mrs.”


Blogger PsychoToddler said...

Mazel Tov to you and the Punster. I've been trying to catch up here at work or I would have stopped by sooner! May you have many more years to step on each other's feet.

For what it's worth, my wife and I have only ever danced together to one song. "Labeled with Love" by Squeeze. A bunch of British Punk New Wave Rockers do a country tune. Go figure.

Thu Jun 16, 09:27:00 AM 2005  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

"May you have many more years to step on each other's feet." Another wise guy heard from. :)

The Punster and I split the dancing skills similarly to the way we split the computer skills--he takes care of the technical details, and I make it look good. He's the one who installs hardware and software and does the troubleshooting. But when there's an important letter to mail, *I'm* the one who "troubleshoots." Everything gets carefully inspected for spelling, grammar, and word choice. If need be, I'll reformat the whole thing, top to bottom. By the time the letter hits the mailbox, it's gorgeous.

It's the same when we dance. He's much better at fancy footwork (the "technical" stuff). But I'm more graceful. I joke with him that, between the *two* of us, we make *one* darn good dancer. :)

As for our *non*-folk dancing, the first time I heard your "Ki V'Simcha," I dragged him out of his office/the Young Scientist's bedroom and started jitterbugging, which *he's* really good at. You probably would have gotten a kick out of seeing that. Er, um, on second thought, I guess there's not much mixed dancing going on in your community. I suppose we could try something remotely resembling a cha-cha--we could call it the "Look, Rav, No Hands" rumba. :)

Thu Jun 16, 09:05:00 PM 2005  
Blogger YMedad said...

Having left a comment at Jewess, I traced back and found a reference to Hora Mamtera. My wife and I had a standing date throughout 1968-70 on Wednesday evenings, 8 - 11 at the 92nd St. Y , NYC. Hora Mamtera was one of our favorites because both of us managed to do a quite impressive leap together - high and long. A great dance. We also appeared, in separate groups, she NCSY and me in Betar, at the Israel Folk Dance Festival, first in Carnegie Hall and then Felt Forum.

Tue Jun 17, 04:19:00 AM 2008  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Swift (er, literally speaking :))!

Both of you must be some fine dancers, to have danced in the Israel Folk Dance Festival!

We still do Hora Mamtera, mostly at Haim's Rikuday Dor Rishon "nostalgia" folk dance session, but I gave up the leap years ago--ah, those were the days--and just do the same step with both feet on the floor.

Tue Jun 17, 07:53:00 AM 2008  

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