BALLROOM DANCING

SHE WAS NO GINGER ROGERS!

As 2005 was drawing to a close, I needed something new and different in my life.  I saw an ad in the adult education for evening ballroom dance classes.  This sounded like something I would be interested in and I promptly went in search of a pair of ballroom dance shoes.  With dance shoes in hand I entered my first ballroom dance class.  Classes were taught by Nancy and Steve Fontaine, who were to become my good friends over time. 

I had two left feet and dancing did not come easy or naturally to me.  That first class, I was paired up with another single man in the class.  It was an awkward event to say the least, but I enjoyed the class and knew I would be back for more classes.  The teachers encouraged us to change partners frequently to be able to dance and learn from many.  One gentleman named Ray was a friend of the Fontaine’s and was an excellent dancer.  They encouraged him to attend the classes for free and dance with the single ladies in class since there was usually more women than men in the classes.  I liked Ray and enjoyed dancing with him, we joked with each other frequently.  Dancing with Steve, the instructor, was a real treat because he made me look good and he knew how to dance, not like some of the beginners who tromped on my toes.

Slowly but surely my dance moves became better with practice.  The Fontaine’s started holding Sunday night dances at the Roseville VFW Hall that August and I was excited to attend that first dance.  Many people showed up and there was also a lesson before the open dancing started for the evening.  At that first dance, I was alone as usual, and the sight of all the couples dancing and having a good time put me in a panic.  I had to leave before the dance was over as I felt so out of place.  I talked with Nancy a few days later and explained my hasty exit telling her I was overwhelmed by the event.  She encouraged me to help her at the door, putting the wrist bands on after the people paid the entrance fee.  She felt it would do me good to meet some of the people this way and it would be easier for me.  I agreed and that became my new task, arriving early at the VFW Hall and setting up for the people.  I was still sitting behind the table by myself and would venture out only if it was a lady’s choice or to dance with Steve and on  a rare occasion some gentleman would ask me to dance.

In 2007 I was still taking lessons and going to dances. A good friend and I discovered a live 16 piece band in the mall every Wednesday evening and it was free to watch or dance.  We started hearing about dances at the Senior Center in Carmichael, a suburb of Sacramento.  Dances were held in the early afternoon with live music.  If I recall, the dances were on Monday and Fridays.  I started attending those plus listening to the band at the mall on Wednesday nights and still taking lessons with the Fontaine’s.   Soon I was dancing sometimes 5 to 6 times a week with some events twice in one day.  I was meeting new people and enjoying myself.  I wasn’t going to the dances looking for men to date but just to have someone to dance with at these events.

At the Senior Center in Carmichael, I fast became known as the “blonde lady”.  There were several older single gentlemen that were good dancers and were outnumbered by the single women in attendance.  One gentleman, Humberto, was a good dancer and the women loved to dance with him.  I enjoyed dancing with him and he also called me the “blonde lady”.  One afternoon I was confronted by one of the women who let me know that all the women liked dancing with Humberto and since I was a newcomer I needed to understand. It was obvious there was some jealousy by some of the older women. I enjoyed dancing to the live music and the odd assortment of dance partners. 

In 2007 my good friend, Pat, met a fellow at the dances named Karl.  They hit it off and I must admit when I saw them together at the dances I was envious because they looked so happy together.  In November of 2007 they were married and I was happy for them.  Pat was 9 years older than me and she deserved to be happy and Karl made her very happy.  Little did I know that in October of 2008 I would be meeting a wonderful man myself…..but that is another story that will be covered in another chapter.

I had joined several online dating websites still trying to find love “in all the wrong places”.  I believe I called myself Sacramento Duchess on one website.  This gentleman contacted me online by saying if I was the Sacramento Duchess then he was the Sheik of Arabia.  I didn’t even answer him because I figured he had to be a real jerk.   A few months later, he contacted me again asking if he had sent me a message previously…….I said yes, and I thought you were a jerk.  We started talking online and his name was Al.  He saw that I liked ballroom dancing and I mentioned about the Wednesday night dances at the Senior Center.  One Wednesday night he showed up and stood over against one wall…..I figured out who he was and went over and introduced myself.  He sat with Pat and me the rest of the evening.  He would only dance with me and not anyone else.  He was a good dancer but kind of a rogue out on the dance floor, meaning he was going to do his own thing regardless of the music or dance.  This went on for a couple of weeks and I didn’t like my entire evening being monopolized by Al.  I decided to move to the other side of the room and sit at a table with some other people that I had met.  That was the last time Al came to the dances.  I danced with him twice that night but then excused myself to sit with the other group and that was the end of Al.

By this time, I owned about 7 or 8 pairs of ballroom dance fancy shoes in black, gold, silver, red and blue colors.  At about $90 to $140 a pair you can see I had some money tied up in this hobby, sport or whatever you want to call it.

On two occasions, men that I met online who lived out of town, came to Sacramento for the evening and we attended a Fontaine dance at the VFW Hall in Roseville.  Steve and Nancy Fontaine always kept a watchful eye out for me whenever I brought a date.

The Fontaine’s always had a Costume Party around Halloween and a Christmas Holiday Ball in December.  Those dance parties were always very special and I always enjoyed attending.  When I left Sacramento in mid-December of 2009 to move to my new life in Coronado, I knew I would miss the dancing classes, dances and of course the Fontaine’s.  I look back on those 3 years as good times in my life to fill the void of being a widow and I knew better times would come.