Jose began by teaching us the basic steps that seemed very simple, and easy with the music, after the intricate precision of Flamenco. Then it was time to dance with a partner. All the women danced with each man in rotation, a hand-hold with the man’s thumb to the woman’s palm, knees flexed and dovetailed – such intimacy.
I loved every moment of it, so much that I must have been smiling like the Cheshire Cat by the end. It was funny, and joyful – dancing with so many partners, all those well-meaning knees, clumsy feet, eyes looking fixedly at the floor – the men who grip and push, and those who give no energy at all. Then dancing with Jose was another world entirely – like dancing with my partner Tim, there was that glorious moment of connection, of flow, that always takes me by surprise.
When I first moved to Wirksworth, over thirty years ago, there was an ironmongers run by a woman who seemed to me to be very old. She was also rather large and slow-moving. But I once got talking to her when I went in to buy a saucepan. 'Oh I love dancing,' she said, her face lighting up. 'I go dancing in Alfreton on a Monday, Belper on a Tuesday, Derby on a Wednesday'…and so on through the week, a different venue every night, including the weekend.
I aspire to be like her, dancing every day, into old age. So far, as well as my Pilates classes, I have ballet, Flamenco, dance improvisation, and now Bachata. To dance is to speak another language – a wordless language that feels, to me, essential as breathing.