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Susan Shinn column: A contra (dance) affair

By Susan Shinn

Salisbury Post

It seemed like a great idea. Contra dancing on a Friday night at an old gym in downtown Davidson. My friends Dave and Beth Cook — about whom you’ll be reading today and Sunday — had invited me to go.

One of my New Year’s resolutions — vague though it is — it to try new things. I’d never been contra dancing. Dave and Beth had started going back in the fall, and talked enthusiastically about how much fun it was.

It’s a lot like line dancing, Dave explained, and you don’t need a partner.

This sounded like too much fun to pass up.

Things started out fine. Dave and Beth picked me up in Beth’s big, white Cadillac. I usually get car sick sitting in the back seat, but the ride was so smooth that I was OK.

Inside the gym, we found a mix of folks — families with young children, retirees and middle-aged folks like us. With no alcohol allowed, it’s a family atmosphere.

We arrived in time for the dance lesson. Our caller was dressed in shorts and short sleeves, and wore a doo rag on his bald head. He had a slow, Southern drawl.

I liked him immediately.

“Okaaaaaaaay,” he said. “What you need to dooooo is to alamande your partner. Riiiiight. Here we gooooooo.”

The steps are fairly simple. You start out in a group of four, take a few steps around in a circle, dance with your partner, twirl around a few times, and move in with another group.

Dave and Beth neglected to mention one, teeny, tiny thing.

All the twirling.

Round and round and round and round.

I had neglected to mention one, teeny, tiny thing.

I get motion sick at the drop of a hat.

As our caller would say, “Baaaaaaaad.”

I’ve never been able to do “Motorboat, motorboat” in the pool with Andrew.

I can’t ride roller coasters. I’m the designated hold-your-stuff-and-wave person. Thank goodness for my friend Fran, who rides all the rides at Carowinds with the children.

I get it honest. I remember Mom throwing up when I was 5 after a spin on the Tilt-a-Whirl at the Cleveland County Fair. There’s nothing worse than watching your mother throw up on the midway, let me tell you.

This all occurs to me as I’m twirling, twirling, twirling, round and round and round.

Oh my Lord.

Carefully, I spin my way out of the group. I walk over to a chair and sit. By now, I can’t even move my head from side to side without feeling nauseous.

A nice EMT comes over and offers me Benadryl. I gratefully take two. This will be a mistake later, but for right now, it’s a good thing.

Dave feigns knee pain and we go and sit outside for awhile while Beth keeps dancing.

She comes over later and puts her arm around me.

“You’re the prettiest girl at the dance and I’m the PARTY POOOOOPER!” I wail.

Dave and Beth are so solicitous and assure me that I’m not the party pooper. (Am, too.)

They take pity on me and drive me home (front seat this time!), stopping off at the Cracker Barrel for cooked apples and a biscuit. By this time I’m so sleepy I can’t hold my head up, but I hang in there ‘ til we get home.

I feel much better the next morning.

A week or two later, I run into Carolyn McLaughlin, who invites me to an upcoming square dance at Corriher Grange. Hmmm … I haven’t been square dancing lately, and it’s not as fast-paced as contra dancing. I may try it — as long as EMTs are standing by.

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