Part 8 – The Dance

Although the dance was very traditional in many things, clothing was not one of them. Actually, that’s not quite true. There was a big tradition concerning the clothes. You wear whatever you want. If you wanted to dress yourself in an Elizabethan dress, you did. If you wanted to dress yourself in tinfoil, you did. Whatever you could think of was acceptable, apart from being naked. Someone had tried that once. It didn’t go well.

Everybody between the ages of 14 and 16 in the whole town of Dale could go to the dance. It was more popular with the girls, but a lot of the 16 year old boys went with their girlfriends. And then there were the Young Miss Dale participants. If their peer aid buddy was a girl, neither of them had ever any trouble finding a date. It was probably because of the chance to get on TV, but since most of the girls participating these days were very pretty, that could also explain it.

My dress was an old dress from the 70s. It had a strange blue and white pattern on it which matched my eyes perfectly. It was a little long and wide, so I put a thick, black belt around my waist and let the upper part of the dress flow over it. It suited me well since I had the curves to wear it. I had sometimes been called chubby by mean boys, but I liked my body. I had a woman’s body, my mother told me, and I agreed.

My hair, however, was my pride and joy. It was long, thick, shiny and a little wavy. It was light-brown, and usually became rather blond after the summer. For this occasion I put in it a thick black plastic head band that made it lift a little at the back. Then I put on black, high-heeled shoes, and I was ready.

My aunt didn’t like that I was participating in Young Miss Dale. I suspected she was afraid I might win, and that would focus the general public on me, and my family, which was probably her worst nightmare. But she seemed to get a little reassured after she heard Charlie was also participating. She didn’t seem to think I had a chance against her.

She had agreed to give Charlie and me a lift. Charlie was stunning, of course. She was wearing an Elizabethan dress that had been made a little more modern, and therefore more beautiful. It was green, like her eyes. She wore her black hair up, with white pearls in it.

When we got there Tomas was waiting for us. He was wearing genes and a black shirt. Charlie didn’t seem very pleased with his lack of effort, but I thought it showed his true character perfectly. He didn’t look like he liked being there.

They went inside. They had just disappeared when someone picked my shoulder. I turned around, and there David was. I almost didn’t recognize him. He was wearing clothes that looked like had been worn by 18th century gentlemen, complete with a staff and a top hat, which made him look rather gigantic. He took it off as soon as I had seen him and bowed in a gentleman like way. I couldn’t help laughing a little.

“My lady,” he said and offered me his hand. He was smiling widely too, obviously enjoying himself immensely. I took his hand, and we went inside.

Since I was a participant, we were told to go inside a small side room, where we had to wait rather crammed until everybody else was there. Then someone spoke over the crowd in the ball room, welcoming everybody to the 92nd annual Young Miss Dale opening dance. The speaker said something more we couldn’t hear, and then the door to our room was opened and we stepped into the ball room.

The middle of the floor had been cleared for us. We made our way there in pairs. David and I were somewhere in the middle of the group. There seemed to be about thirty participants this year. About ten years ago they had been about fifty. That was the most that had ever participated. Thirty, however, was ten more than usual.

The music started. It was a waltz. We had all taken dance lessons at school. It was part of the schools curriculum. But they usually took place in the fall. The only dance I could remember was the box dance, which was very hard to forget. David agreed it was probably the best way to go, and we started dancing.

A lot of people were also dancing the box dance, although with different amount of grace. I thought David and I did ours with a fair amount. He was good at leading and never stepped on my toes. Some were just moving their feet randomly, hoping not to step on each others toes. Two couples, however, seemed to know what they were doing. They were making complicated movements and traveling all over the dance floor. It was very nice to see.

When the next song started, which was a more modern song, everybody else joined in and we stopped waltzing. It was a relief. We danced a little longer, but then we had to get some drinks. The room was very crowded and the air was getting hot.

We sat down at two chairs by the wall and watched everybody else dance. We also started noticing some of the strange clothes. I pointed a couple out to David who were wearing nothing but their underwear. David pointed Mrs. Young out to me on the stage. A few people stood there, the organizers of Young Miss Dale, making sure everything was going as it should. Mrs. Young had also spotted the couple in their underwear, and looked like she wanted nothing more than to throw them out. We couldn’t help laughing at her expression. She had no authority to do anything of the sort here. She was an organizer, but she couldn’t change the rules of the competition, thankfully.

After an hour of dancing, one of the organizers asked the participants to come to the stage and introduce themselves. I lined up with the others, David at my side. He didn’t have to introduce himself, but he was supposed to accompany me on to the stage and wait for me in the back.

It was strange, talking both into a camera and to the audience, but I managed it without stuttering or saying something stupid. I even managed to get everybody laughing when I told them I cut my dress out of the wallpaper of this room, because the wallpaper did look a lot like it, or perhaps I should say the dress looked a lot like the wallpaper.

Then I was finished, and Charlie was next. David led me off the stage, and we waited, because we were supposed to dance again after the introductions.

“You were good,” he said and gave me a wide smile. As always, I was compelled to smile too.

“Thank you,” I said. “So were you. You’re very good at holding ladies hands while they walk up and down stairs.”

He laughed a little.

The song that was played for the dance was a slow song. I hadn’t expected that. David didn’t look surprised. He put his right hand on my waist and took my right hand in his left just like he had done when we waltzed, except this time he held me a lot closer to him. I tried not to look awkward, but I knew I was blushing. I put my left hand on his shoulder, and we started to slowly move our feet.

I looked around at all the other couples. Charlie was resting her head on Tomas’s shoulder, looking tired after all the dancing. Tomas looked just as tired, and barely able to hold her up. I smiled and looked up at David.

David was looking right at me. Our eyes met and I couldn’t look away. I felt frozen, but I was still dancing. David was smiling.

“Why don’t you do that at school?” I asked, just to say anything.

“What?” he asked confused.

“You never smile at school. Why not?”

He looked thoughtful for a moment.

“Guess I have nothing to smile about,” he said. “I don’t do it intentionally. I just don’t like it there, and I don’t pretend to feel good when I don’t.”

“Why don’t you like it there?”

“Mrs. Young, mostly,” he said and stopped smiling. “I don’t like many of our classmates, either, but Mrs. Young is worse. But I’ve only got a few months left, so I think I’ll make it.”

He smiled again.

The dance finished. We went to sit down again.

“I knew you disliked her, but I didn’t think the feeling was so strong,” I said in thought.

“A lot more of the kids do, but they don’t think they can do anything about her, so they don’t shout about it,” David said. I looked at him in sympathy. “It’s OK, I’ve been dealing with her for a few years now. I’m getting used to it.”

I tried to steer clear of any subject connected to Mrs. Young for the rest of the evening. We talked about cars. David managed to explain a few things about them I had always wanted to know. Then the dance was over, and we went our separate ways from the door.

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