It will be my third flamenco lesson this afternoon.
I feel that I need some sort of medal and/or badge to celebrate the fact that I have not yet thrown my dancing shoes through the window of despair, or at least used them to bash in the face of the pigeon of doom.
Our dance teacher deserves at least two medals, and a stiff gin.
I am a terrible, terrible dancer.
I like dancing. Nay, I love dancing. I groove about the kitchen at home with gay abandon. I know all the words to Peter Gabriel’s Sledgehammer and can do a very passable impression of a ferret pushing a lawn mower (very complex dance move – see Arlene Philips for details).
Back in the day when my hips didn’t lie (and crumble. Although what’s with breasts being humble Shakira? I’m quite well endowed in the chest department and nobody has ever thought my corkers were the shadow of Ben Nevis looming over their dinner plate), and I could stay awake for more than half an hour, I was well known for literally being able to dance the night away.
It appears it matters not a jot if you can do the mashed potato, or the funky chicken, or your inner ear problems recede to the point where you can do a reasonable version of the twist without falling into someone’s pint. If you can’t count, and you can’t tell left from right, the world of dancing is not for you.
Hence, the world of dancing is not for me.
I now understand why Geri Halliwell always looked a bit pained during the more complex bits of the Spice Girls’ routines. She was scratching around inside her brain, counting, counting like Silas Marner with his heaps of gold. Then, she would be so busy counting she would forget if she had to count to the left or to the right, or whether she was going backwards, backwards hop or forwards, forwards glide. No wonder she moved into batwing jumpers, and Rosa Klebb shoes by the Viva Forever period. She had finally given up the fight. It is obviously the dance equivalent of the sack cloth/ashes/rending hair period of bereavement.
I combine the dance skills of la Halliwell with the vocal skills of Posh, which is why starting my own girl band was never really going to cut it. I shall have to make my millions another way. Now it seems the role of internationally renowned flamenco star is also closed to me.
I spend the entire lesson hoofing (and I use this word advisedly) up and down the boards of the studio like a pained water buffalo, while the teacher glides, and sweeps and dramatically swishes about.
Last week we spent a lot of time focussing on our arms. The arms must, for large periods of time, be above the head in a kind of crossed bull horn manoeuvre, but with elbows out, rather like chicken wings. Elbows must always be out. Always.
Once this position has been attained, you can sweep dramatically round in circles, whilst also rotating the wrists and fanning the fingers in and out in the manner of a particularly attractive goldfish tail. The head must thrust from side to side in homage to an imperious queen looking haughtily down upon a naughty subject.
It looks very marvellous.
If you are Spanish. Or gifted and talented.
If, like me, one is a remedial dancer it looks somewhat different.
The arms will be held stiffly above the head until the face takes on a slightly constipated, pained look.
You will spend a lot of time wondering why elbows can hurt so much given that all they are doing is dangling in the air. You start to think about elbow cancer until you realise that you are now day dreaming and you have utterly lost count and your arms have stopped moving and are sort of hovering in mid air in a sort of lost way.
Your fingers frill out reasonably well the first time. You feel pleased. You think; ‘I have this fingers malarkey sussed. I will now concentrate on the pressing matter of moving the arms rhythmically. Ho yes.’
The minute you stop concentrating on your fingers frilling out, they take on a life of their own, and as you suddenly catch sight of yourself in the mirror you remind yourself of watching Les Dawson playing the piano.
Complete with intractable bosom and the urge to fold your arms under your rib cage.
This is neither Spanish, nor attractive.
And as for looking haughty, I’d say haunted is about as good as we’re going to get this lesson.