Friday, June 12, 2009

A Dance called Madison

Come on Dolores! It’s the MADISON!!

Er, no thanks, you go ahead – I’m not keen on… No, honestly, it’s too complicated… Look, last time I tripped someone up and the whole line went with her - I really don’t want to. Oh god! – alright then!

Do YOU Madison? Or did you, like me, believe it was an American city, an avenue, a square… ?

Well, it’s SO much more! Very soon after arriving in the land of fine wines and goats cheese, we discovered that ‘Madison’ was French for Line Dance. And Never stand in the way of frenzied hordes answering the call!

I usually avoid situations where it might happen, but recently George and I went to two musical gatherings where it sneaked in. Many times.

This clip shows people engaged therein:

If you take a peek, you’ll see the Lines of people merrily stepping forwards, backwards and allways with intermittent jumps and hops and turns, and all perfectly synchronised! How do they do this? Was it compulsory at school? A new vocation for gap years, perhaps?

I happen to love dancing; anything by the Stones will set me off… Salsa, Cajun, Eighties Disco or a chance to Twist again…

But the Madison (remember Achey Breaky Heart?) is surely more a sort of Chinese Water Torture by skipping. And I’m always skipping in the wrong direction. All alone…

Last time, somebody very kindly took pity on my flailings and ran all the way from the other end of the line to instruct me step by step. A wonderful woman.

Of course I’d forgotten everything by the next Madison, and fell over in the general agitation. Cunningly I lay still, hoping to be stretchered off. Nobody noticed. And George was engrossed in playing accordeon. (Actually, would it be quicker for me to learn that than the Madison…)

Later, as I peered out from under a table at more lines of flittering feet, Wonderful-Woman’s head suddenly dipped down in front of mine and beamed, “I’m going to explain the Secret of Madison: It’s always exactly the same steps!”

Wow - So that's it! She then wrote these steps down on a napkin (which had evidently been made good use of during the tiramasu earlier):

Step left forward; Place right beside left (no weight) & clap; Step back on right; Move left foot back & across the right; Move left foot to the left; Move left foot back & across the right.

Well, that doesn't seem too hard... I took these precious lines home to study, and practised and practised until it became for me, too, a thing of Wonder, that I even pondered Youtubing to.

Did I hell! It's bloody Impossible!


Expat said...

I think my dear mother is happily dancing the Madison in heaven today. She did love a good knees-up.

Dear friends, I am so sad. I leave for the UK in a few days. It will be a couple of weeks before I return. Thank you for your kind thoughts. Bless you both.

Dolores Doolittle said...

Oh Expat, how wondrously typical of you - I'm sure your lovely mother is indeed rampaging merrily up there.

I ache for you, but I do believe our mums' spirits float around giving us support & handy hints, "Put your bloody hat straight for My funeral!" & the like...

You're past the worst part - hang on to your brave humour.

Warmest, warmest wishes to you.

Expat said...

Thank you. My nephew and his wife were with her, holding her hand and stroking her hair. That is a great comfort to me.

But your blog did make me remember a few weddings and parties when Mum led the conga with gusto! Da da da da da, kick!Da da da da da, kick!

So, here's what you do. At the next get-together, start a conga line! Everyone will soon forget about the silly Madison. And since you're all holding on to each other it is so much harder to fall down.

By the way, I am a big fan of Billy Ray, not for Achy Breaky but for Some Gave All

Dolores Doolittle said...

Hi Expat

Marvellous about your nephew & his wife.

The CONGA!! Haven't indulged for donkeys years (should there be an apostrophe somewhere?): Achey Breaky Heart Ungh! Achey Breaky Heart Ungh! Why - It Works!

And now, shall google off to investigate 'Some Gave All'

Canary Islander said...

Well, Dolores – they say that dancing is the perpendicular expression of a horizontal desire. But I don’t agree with that. And the regimentation and repetition of line dancing is far too constraining for a freestyle merchant like me.

Give me a partner IN MY ARMS – to dance with.
Salsa! Ceroc! Jive!, Country! Quickstep! Foxtrot! Waltz!
Or nice and easy to any of the old schmaltzy popular songs!

Give me a partner who can FOLLOW (and isn’t struggling to escape) and who loves the music and the movement as much as I do! That’s the real fun!

Strange, though… I’ve realized that “real fun” is an anagram of “funeral”. It’s the way my crazy mind works, I suppose, and of course I’m thinking about Expat’s sad loss.

Expat – my heartfelt condolences. I’m so glad to see you putting such a brave face on things. Maybe our Mums really are “up there and dancing”. My mother adored the Waltz - and considered The Blue Danube one of the finest pieces of music ever written.

Dolores Doolittle said...

Hello CI. Do many of your partners Struggle to Escape?! Surely not...

We're heavily entwined in cajun music at the moment with George's new band.

As Grumpy Groupie, I'm sometimes urged to demonstrate the steps -"Bend your Knees & Grind your Groins", (as explained by some Proper dance teachers who used to come to the UK stuff).

The translation has caused some bafflement among French friends, and not a little Alarm. Specially when George & I hit the floor.

Much more fun than the Madison though.

Canary Islander said...

Well, yes... some do struggle a bit. I fancy they don't quite understand my view of the dance floor. You see, when I see a gap open up momentarily amongst the others who are cavorting around me, all my old instincts that were honed to perfection on the rugby playing fields come to the fore. A GAP! A quick feint to left, a double-side-step to the right, a blurring shimmy of hips, a ruthless hand-off - and I'll be through!

Sod it! WHERE'S MY PARTNER? She was here a moment ago!

Dolores Doolittle said...

Well, Canary, you sound Just like Fred Astair!

Is it only Rugby moves, or do you confuse the dance floor with Badminton from time to time, or Water Polo perhaps...

(Please youtube)!

Canary Islander said...

Fred Astair reminds me of Red Adare. They both chased after fiery things. Ginger Rogers is a good example; she started off as a redhead. And she once complained, amusingly and with huge justification, that she did everything that Fred did, but she did it in HIGH HEELS and BACKWARDS!

No, it’s just that I hate over-crowded dance floors. Horrible when you are being bumped all the time, and NEVER in time to the music. And I’m worried about your water-polo and badminton suggestions – what’s the dress code? Is it wise to enter a gyrating throng in a swimming thong? What’s a soft-shoe shuffle shuttlecock? So many questions, so few answers!

Cajun! I’d been dimly aware of Cajun music, probably because I’d only heard an occasional snatch of the sound – until I was lucky enough to visit a Cajun night club in New Orleans. Wow! A wonderful, foot-stamping intensity of sound (and great vocalists)! I was with my middle daughter (I have three) who was 19 years old at the time. How we danced! Terrific! And later, at about 4 o’clock in the morning, I remember suggesting we leave for our hotel – and her suggesting she would “catch up with me later”!!!!!

Leave my 19-year-old daughter alone in that wild heaving crowd? No way!

Canary Islander said...

Oh, I forgot to tell you – I’ll be in France from 1st to 6th of July – in Normandy to visit Pierre, who is one of our merry bunch of “Swallows” (I’m the only Canary) who flit between homeland and Tenerife.

I’ll definitely put my ear to the ground to listen out for that Cajun thump rumbling up from the Loire (or maybe my ear will be close to the ground because of his home-made Calvados?).

And have you noticed anything different about me recently? (Clue = Tweet!).

Dolores Doolittle said...

'Dress code', Canary? What - you do Clothèd dancing?

We once went to New Orleans - amazing place, isn't it. For us it was part of a Hero-Worshipping holiday, so that George could commune with all the bands he'd loved From Afar.

So, Tenerife has a goodly melange of people constantly ricocheting to and fro - how exciting! (Are you in the Mafia)?

What's Different about you? Nothing! I'd recognise you anywhere! But... from the clue I thought you'd joined Twitter (which I haven't), so I clicked on you, and you've got a Blog on blogspot - is That it?

Or have you changed your hair...?

Canary Islander said...

Hi Dolores!

Is “Clothèd” the French for “Clot Head” or “Cloth Head”?

I’ve been to New Orleans three times, twice by car from Arkansas, through Louisiana and over the Pontchartrain Bridge –a truly amazing experience! It’s a city I adored, with a great night life and superb music. I guess George must have found his Cajun paradise.

Like Expat, your blog about dancing reminds me of so much past fun.

Yes, the people who winter in Tenerife and then spend summer back in their home countries are called “Swallows”. The people I know have been mainly drawn together by a common passion for Petanque (do you and George play the game in France?) and include a hotchpotch of French, Belgians, Germans, Italians, Scandinavians, English and a sprinkling of other nationalities. The opportunities to brush up on one’s language skills are limitless! And the really great thing is that we become friends easily, do dinner parties, have excursions together, and go out dancing in the evenings – as well as visit each other’s homes abroad! Hence my visit to Normandie in July, and my previous trip to Germany a couple of years ago. Great fun! And yes, all of us admit to membership of one “family” or another...(be afraid, ver afraid...).

Ha! I thought you’d notice that my commentator name had suddenly changed from “Canary” to “Canary Islander”. Yes, well done! It's on

So now we are just two clicks apart! But I’ll be blogging there relatively infrequently, and only if your inspiration has moved me to write something rather longer than a comment. Frankly, it’s much more fun here chatting with you and with Expat, and hopefully with many others in the future!

I wonder how Expat is getting on….

Dolores Doolittle said...

I'd Never call you a "Clot Head", Canary! Wonder what that is Scandinavian... (wonder what Anything is in Scandinavian)...

Shall click into your blog to keep up with your goings-on (scary, sordid, or otherwise). Are you going to have photos dotted thereabout, too?

We sometimes play Pétanque when we have a garden gathering (using a delightful set of boules ordered from The Daily Mail twenty years ago). Hours of pleasure, but never quite as impressive as the old hands you see on the pitches of Paris.

(Have you ever played that bloody awful card game 'Belote', by the way? You need a maths degree & four reams of A4 just to write down the instructions).

Expat is frequently in my thoughts, too... I'm sure it's coming up to a convenient apero time in all our vicinities - let's have
A Toast to You, Expat.

Canary Islander said...

Argggh! Not BELOTE!!!!!!

Pierre loves it (groan). He’s an EXPERT! And I haven’t a clue what’s going on! We’ve spent WHOLE EVENINGS sitting in his apartment in Tenerife trying to fathom out how the suits rank and the relative priority of the cards and the object of the game and the scoring. It’s totally confusing! And he plies us with Ricard and Calvados, and he keeps winning, winning, winning! I’m sure (sob) that he’ll want to play the game every evening of our visit in July!!!

So you are Petanque veterans? I’m still a lowly amateur (but renowned for how narrowly I miss when I am “tireur”) …. A hush falls – I step into the hoop – take aim – let fly – another MISS - by an incredible fraction of a centimetre – and a direct hit on the second-place boule (which had been brilliantly placed by our pointeur)! Six points to the other team! Magnifique! Formidable! How our opponents cheer!

Yes, there are circumstances where a touch of haughtiness accompanied by a Gallic shrug of the shoulders can (just about) preserve a shred of dignity – that is something I have learned from our French friends…..

The highlight of our Petanque Club season in Los Christianos is the Fancy Dress Day – a tournament in which all participants wear the most outrageous costumes (prizes for the best in different categories).

No, there will be no personal photos – out of respect for Expat. Mind you, I am thinking of wearing a very shredded and revealing “Incredible Hulk” costume during next year’s Fancy Dress Tournament, complete with heavy green make-up and a scowl. There are some fabulous make-up artistes in the club!

And yes! A toast to EXPAT! Here’s looking forward to your return!!

Dolores Doolittle said...

We may Play boules, Canary, but we're not exactly Gifted thereat. Our garden gatherings include hula-hoop, trampette, and coca-cola fountains from time to time, and I doubt tournaments would be won in any of those either.

Fancy Dress, however... how I miss those Construct-your-own-Cossy parties of the Old Country. And how many times I won the office Hallowe'en Fest! Well, once... (But my Witch in a Cauldron came close, too)

Shredded Incredible Hulk - fabulous. (Make sure you keep your vest on, though).

Canary Islander said...

Wow! You've included me in your list of blogs that you like! Thank you!

So I clicked on it - but alas, it didn't work! So I right-clicked on it to see the 'properties' and saw the link was incorrectly set up as:


when it should have been

I've been making tons of mistakes too - please tell me if you see any problems in my efforts! Half my time is spent struggling with hmtl errors!

Dolores Doolittle said...

Hello Canary - what an imbecile! (me, naturally)

Too much cutting & pasting and not enough checking, sadly...

Shall rush Immediately to put it right because it is, indeed, a Blog-I-Like

(your Absolute Zillions of mistakes are just part of your charm)!

Canary Islander said...

Hello Dolores!

Computers! Just when I think I've won, along comes another mortifying defeat! The Telegraph has redesigned it's site and I now cannot find Jon Doust anywhere!

Have you tried (and hopefully succeeded)?

Dolores Doolittle said...

Oh Woe & Much Woe, Canary! When I failed to get onto Society Blogs the other day, I blamed Maintenance (as usual).

But I've just tried again and it's Gawn! The nearest I could get was
where there are a few familiar names like Lucy Jones... But no Jon!

I do rather like the revitalised new layout (except for avatar-less comments), and shall be delving further into its unknown mysteries. If Jon has ceased posting thereupon, I shall heartily miss him though.

Have you been to his other blog? - The Vendée Blog, which has a click here under Blogs-I-Like. It's tales of gîte-running, village politics & family life in The Vendée; jolly well worth visiting!

(So hard to keep up these days, isn't it)!

Expat in the UK said...

Hello...just a quick visit. Limited computer access.

Things have gone quite well here and we had fine weather for the funeral. Back to the USA on Thursday. Thank you for your good thoughts.

Oh, do I have New Orleans stories!! Huge shire horses drinking beer out of buckets in bars! Preservation Hall. And hurricanes (the kind you drink) aplenty.

Dolores Doolittle said...

How splendid to hear from you, Expat, and glad things have gone as well as pos. It will be good to get back to the USA now.

Oh Yes - Hurricanes (colourful, but very sweet as I recall). Preservation Hall was triffic squashed-up fun, and the fabulous shire horses! I think we saw them mostly from behind as they hauled a cartload of us round the sights. Glad to hear they got to the bar afterwards too...

Canary Islander said...

Hello Expat: It's good to hear from you - we've been missing you. All safe speed home.

I'm leaving for France in the small hours tomorrow, and look forward to being back here in a week's time.

Dolores: Thank you for your visit! Hope you liked the limerick!

Canary Islander said...

How weird - I've just been rummaging in my socks drawer (socks may be needed in France, I think) when I came across an old business card for a small New Orleans guest house that I stayed in. It's called the Nine-O-Five Royal Hotel at 905 Rue Royal St.

I also stayed in another small hotel called St Peters' Place. It had a private courtyard outside my bedroom with a banana tree. Do either of you know these small hotels? They had so much more character than the posh hotels I used when on business trips!

Dolores Doolittle said...

Yes, Canary - we wear peep-toed socks in France - very chic and they let the breeze in.

It's At Least 32C here this week, and we have a swarm of bees the size of a small car in our roof.
Friendly so far..

Its nearly twenty years since our visit to New Orleans, and neither of us can remember the name of our hotel. It was in the French Quarter, on a corner, and it had lots of black railings. That narrows it down, doesn't it?!

Expat back in the USA said...

I must admit, my last visit to Noo Awlins was also more than 20 years ago, but it is still vivid in my mind, such is the impact of the place.

We were attending a geotechnical conference hosted by the company John then worked for and so were lodged in the hotel where the conference took place. It was called the Monteleone, right in the French Quarter….very posh. The conference was the week before Mardi Gras, so we enjoyed all the build up to the big event without the crush of drunks and half naked ladies (though I suspect the guys in the group were disappointed).

My first sight of the aforementioned shire horse was one early morning (after a very late night of revelry). As we came out of the hotel elevator, there was this huge animal, drinking a bucket of Budweiser in the French tiled foyer while his attendant pooper-picker-upper stood patiently by with a bucket and shovel. Needless to say, we were surprised right out of our collective hangover. Then, a little while later, as we walked down the street, we saw the same horse’s arse poking out of a tiny bar. It turned out they were shooting video to advertise Mardi Gras locally. Pity anyone in the immediate vicinity when the horse had enough beer and decided to lay down and sleep it off!

Foodie memories….Beignets at Café du Monde, breakfast at Brennan’s, dinner at Arnaud’s and the Court of Two Sisters. And of course etoufee, gumbo (Okra..yuk), po’ boys, red beans and rice.

Best memories… listening to Ode to Joy being played on water-filled glasses [by a street musician who we saw again just three years ago in Old Town, Alexandria (Washington D.C) who turned out to be a distinguished University professor and lecturer.]…being squashed into Preservation Hall and listening to amazing jazz…”rollin’ down the river” on a paddle boat complete with calliope….walking round the French Quarter and soaking in the sights and sounds.

Dolores Doolittle said...

Hi Expat back home, What a splendidly colourful picture you paint!

We also liked Dookie Chase's "classic soul food" restaurant, and learned how to make gumbo & louisiana bread pud at the New O. School of Cooking - 8ft tall Am Football Player Kevin Bellman did the demo. (I loved him immediately. He didn't even see me down there at knee level...)

Great to see you back !

Canary Islander said...

Arggggh! You've written a more recent blog on moving house!

Details of my breathtaking adventures in the fleshpots of New Orleans will have to await another day!

Dolores Doolittle said...

Go on, Canary - it's never too late!