|Chuck's Dancing Career!|
When I was in college
at Rockford College in 1959, I went to Arthur Murray's Dance Studio and
asked if they would teach me to dance and become a teacher at night for pay.
I figured being on the farm and not really knowing how to dance, getting a
good background in dance would be good for my social life and in the
business world. Of course I am sure my family thought, there he goes
again! Little did I know 30 years later I would be dancing
and teaching classes in San Francisco in my spare time while doing
consulting on software development. Well the owner of the studio in
Rockford Illinois said I could take lessons to become a teacher and not get
paid! Huh! I said excuse me, I expect to be paid one way or another.
Get this, the owner thought if I was so up front and pushy, I would be good
as a teacher and sales rep for selling dance courses. I was the only
one who was paid for three months while learning to dance. You can't
After a few months of teaching the guys were all after this tall dark haired gorgeous dance teacher who had been working there for a while. One evening while we were all sitting in the coffee room she ran in and hugged me and gave me a big kiss. Well everyone wondered what was up with Nancy. She told me she had been in school with me at the one room school in Pecatonica, she was in the seventh grade and I was in first grade! I vaguely remembered her and she told me she had a boy friend (she sounded like she was a gun moll as far as I was concerned), and was moving to Los Angeles and she wanted to talk to me before she gave notice and left for the West Coast. Well I was unhappy, she was getting out of town and going to Los Angeles and here I was - stuck in Illinois. Well little did I know within five years I would be on the West Coast in San Francisco! I eventually would be flying to Los Angeles and Beverly Hills on a regular schedule for several years while working part time for my friend Viviane in her Senior Residence in Woodland Hills plus visiting just for fun. I always wondered what happened to Nancy - could she still be there?
Here in the City I started to take West Coast Swing lessons. It is very difficult and combines swing and almost has a Cha Cha feel to it. I believe it was developed during the 1940's in Los Angeles during the War Years. The dance floors would be so crowded that the leader stayed in one spot and the partner would be spun around him on a more or less straight line - or back and forth. I met a partner who was about five foot five and 100 pounds so I could do almost anything with him! I used to drive from Sunnyvale after work to the local bar and dance until almost eight P.M. The bar had free dance lessons during the week nights and many times they would let us dance on the huge dance floor alone for up to two hours as people really liked to see us dance. We did western and ballroom but mainly West Coast Swing and that irritated many purists as they said this wasn't really western dancing. We decided having the word West in it was enough reason to dance it.
I also taught at a local dance bar on upper Market Street called the Corral! It was mostly western and I also taught line dances and west coast swing! I also danced nightly at the Rawhide during the week, a dance bar south of market for over ten years. I was working in Silicon Valley, consulting at major corporations and would drive back to the City and meet my dance partner and dance from about 6:00 P.M. until the free dance classes started at 7:30 P.M. We were so good that many times we dance alone on the floor, doing west coast swing and the two step but with lots of turns which infuriated the so called purists. If in Texas, one just flew around the floor on the two step, no fancy turns for those butch numbers. But guess what, many times 60 or more people would just stand and watch us and some nights we danced into the actual class time!
The Black & White Ball is one of the biggest events in San Francisco and I attended it in the 1990s with a dance partner from a dance bar called the Rawhide. The Black & White Ball is held every two years and is very expensive but worth the price. Everyone wears black and white and diamonds or what ever one can afford. The entire Civic Center is closed off and bands play in the Symphony Hall, the Opera House, the State Office Buildings, the Marines Memorial Building (Where the United Nations Charter was signed), the City Hall and also in many tents set up around the streets. Thousands of people attend and drink champagne and eat great food and dance the night away until early in the morning. Then it is time to go home and rest up for the next Black & White Ball! Here am I looking spiffy in my tuxedo and some rhinestone jewelry.
I joined a dance group, Partners For Peace, in the late 1980s while I was dancing at the local bars in the City. The group, Partner's For Peace was a lot of fun and we had about ten people in the group. We danced different places around the City and one of our nicest was an Aids benefit in the Marine's Ballroom on the top floor of a building in the downtown area. Two women made copies of our dancing at a benefit in Olives in 1991, a bar restaurant near the San Francisco Bay. Unfortunately they forgot to bring the lights so the movie is rather dark but still one can see we didn't look too bad for amateurs. I had a friend cut out the portion of my west coast dance and it lasts about three minutes! When I look at it I can't believe I knew so many steps in the dance. I uploaded the video to Google and my dance number may be viewed by clicking on the following link.
Note: New Vista and 64 bit processors may not be able to open this link until a new version of Flash is available. Most users probably will still be using a 32 bit processor so the link should work for you. Enjoy!