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Magic and Dancing

Updated on July 27, 2017

Conjuring a night of dance

'Ready?' Sally did the finishing touches to her outfit.

'Ready,' Charlie confirmed. He checked his pockets one last time. Sally looked in the mirror. Her face was okay. She smoothed her hair, knowing it would be mussed up later. Well, she shrugged mentally. She had a comb in her bag.

Still patting his pockets, Charlie picked up his small bottle with a mixed alcoholic drink in it. It was always good to have a little nip of something to get him going. Not to calm his nerves, that didn't need doing. It was a Saturday night and they were going dancing.

From their B&B, they walked the short walk to the Winter Gardens, Blackpool. The Empress Ballroom was hosting a night of freestyle. Freestyle with a difference, only they didn't know it yet. Sally and Charlie, in particular Charlie, were going to make this a night to remember. It was almost 9 pm.

They showed their tickets at the entrance and were admitted with a warm smile. Across the carpeted entrance hall, they walked to the Ballroom.

Pausing for a moment at the top of the steps, they watched the people below. The grand chandeliers sparkled at a low light. Otherwise there were no lights, so right on the floor, it was less bright, giving an intimate feel to the large room.

The last time they'd been here was three months ago for the annual Magic Convention. Then, the Empress Ballroom had been full of stalls, all selling magic tricks. Now the space was no less packed, but this time with couples dancing.

Charlie and Sally began descending the stairs. On the dance floor, it flexed slightly, due to the movement of the dancers on it. They joined in. Sally knew Charlie had packed his pockets with magic tricks, conventional magic tricks. She smiled to herself as they spun and twirled. She had a little magic of her own. And it had absolutely nothing to with smoke and mirrors.

For a while, they simply danced. After a while, they had to go to the bar. Sally gulped down some of the free water. Charlie got himself a cider. As Sally drank her water, Charlie began demonstrating some magic tricks to a couple of people standing near him. Sally idly listened to a couple of women talking just on her other side.

'That man in in red T-shirt!' one of them exclaimed. 'He's so good, I find it so, so hard to follow him.'

'I know what you mean,' the other woman said. 'He does such difficult moves. And so quickly too. I'm breathless!'

Sally turned her head to look at who they were talking about. The man was easy to spot. He was certainly flash. Sally had been dancing many years herself and knew a lot. But she understood what the women meant. But his moves didn't look hard to her. It was the way he did the moves, his style. Sally smiled. Behind her back, she clicked her fingers and whispered to herself, 'Showtime.'

As the current song came to an end, she marched up to the dance floor and asked the man in the red T-shirt for a dance. he smiled graciously and led her onto the floor.

Well, she thought as they began to dance. He was certainly flash. Fast too. But she was used to dancing faster, much faster with Charlie. Speed was no terror for her. She followed the man, even through moves she had never done before, he was such a good lead.

As the song came to an end, she was aware people had been watching them dance, at the edge of the floor and on the surrounding balcony above. As she walked off the dance floor, a woman approached her. 'How did you manage that? No-one can manage that Dan when he dances at that speed. You dance really well.'

'Thank you,' Sally replied. She felt euphoric inside. Oh, the kudos of having a stranger compliment her on her dancing. Particularly with a man who many ladies clearly thought was a challenge too far.

She spotted Charlie by the bar doing a magic trick involving rope. She could see him doing something similar to her crossed fingers and say something she could not hear from here and the rope he was holding up with both hands suddenly went rigid. With just the one hand at the bottom end, Charlie held up the rigid rope to the amazement and applause of his audience.

Amazingly for a private showing of magic, one or two of Charlie's little audience slipped him some money. He smiled and pocketed the cash. Turning to Sally, he invited her to dance.

It was another really fast song playing. Now to impress those watching, Sally thought. They were dancing much, much faster than she and that Dan bloke had. They whirled around, so in tune with each other that the dance went perfectly. Foot perfectly. And because they were so used to it, they weren't even the slightest bit out of breath when it finished.

Other people asked them to dance after and on they danced. 'Have you ever danced in the Tower Ballroom?' her current dance partner asked Sally as they sort of waltzed around to the song that was playing, with a nod to the world famous ballroom just a couple of minutes walk away.

She nodded. 'It's the most beautiful room to dance in,' Sally said. 'This is a lovely room, of course, but the Tower Ballroom-' her voice tailed off. Her dance partner nodded. Sally felt good doing this fusion of waltz and something else. 'Have you ever competed at dance?' she asked him.

'Oh well,' he said modestly. 'British Champion here this year at the cha-cha. Runner up last year with the waltz. To name but two. The list of wins is quite extensive. I also teach all the Latin dances.'

Wow, Sally thought to herself. She knew a smattering of all the Latin dances, bits and pieces. What kept her up in these dances was her self-belief in the ability to be able to follow whoever she was dancing with. But this guy was seriously good. Seriously good as a lead. It felt the easiest thing in the world to follow where he lead her. Sh could have danced and danced with this man. But the song came to an end.

'Thank you,' they said to each other. The man kissed her on the cheek. Sally turned to find a man standing in front of her. His posture was all wrong. From the waist, he was leaning forward slightly. That was his natural posture. What was he doing here, Sally thought, puzzled. Someone like that couldn't possibly be a dancer. His stance, never mind his walk, was all wrong.

But he was holding out his hand, clearly asking her for a dance. Sally clicked her fingers behind her back, wondering if this trick could possibly help. It didn't. He was a terrible dancer, who couldn't lead, as if he'd never been to dance class and learned how to. Sally was a good dancer, with years of experience behind her, but even she could not follow this man properly. He could not lead properly.

All that was of no help. The man made no effort to show Sally where he meant her to go. She tried to follow, she really did, but still he didn't lead properly. 'Are you trying to lead?' he asked abruptly at one point.

'One of us has to,' Sally replied tartly. 'Since you aren't.' She stood still. 'Seriously, of course I'm not trying to lead. But why aren't you? Have you never learned how to?'

The man stared at her. 'You're not a very good dancer, are you?' he said.

At that, Sally nearly lost her temper. 'Actually, I've been dancing for fifteen years now. How about you?' She folded her arms and stared at him. She suspected that he hadn't been dancing long. She unfolded her arms and twirled them behind her back.

The man gave her a dirty look and simply walked away. Sally looked at him walk away with equanimity. Well, that's told him, she thought. Charlie joined her. 'Shall we dance the next dance?' he asked her.

Sally could have hugged him and did so, lightly. 'I'd be delighted,' she said. They danced and danced. The night wore on. Perhaps it was their unique style of dancing together, but people were starting to watch them more than other dancers. All about, on the balcony above, people were watching them. On the dance floor, people parted to give them a little more space.

At around 12.30 in the morning (the evening did not end till 1 am), one of the organisers, stepped up to a microphone. The music came to and end and he began to speak. 'As you know,' he spoke to the crowd. 'We give an award each year, to the couple we consider the best amateur freestyle dancers of the evening. The prize will be this bottle of lovely wine.' He pointed to a bottle on the table beside him. 'Plus a small hamper of luxury goodies. On top of that, they will also get free tickets to dance here next year. And the award goes to-' There was a pause and then a spotlight fell on Charlie and Sally. Sally gasped. She looked at Charlie and then around her, at people who were applauding. Someone was walking towards them smiling, She gestured for them to approach the small stage at the side of the room.

It was only then that Sally realised the man who'd announced she and Charlie were the winners was the man who'd told her he'd been the British Champion here earlier this year. He kissed her on the cheek and shook Charlie's hand warmly.

Feeling very dazed, they walked back to the floor and a nearby table, where they put their winning prizes. Sally tucked the free entry ticket into her handbag. They seemed to be surrounded by people congratulating them. Sally suddenly saw the man with the bad posture through a gap in the crowd. He was scowling at her, clearly feeling put out, or something, Sod him, she giggled to herself, still on a high.

The next moment, it seemed, the evening had come to an end. Gathering their winnings, Charlie and Sally walked the short distance to their B&B on Adelaide Street. Letting themselves in, they walked up to their room and flopped on the bed. Charlie poured them both a double rum and coke from the supplies they'd brought into two plastic cups. 'Here's to us,' he said, touching his plastic cup against hers.

'Cheers,' Sally said. 'Wow,' she went on. 'Did tonight actually happen, or did I dream it all?'

'Must have happened,' Charlie smiled. 'I was there too, remember?' He fingered the things in his pocket. There was something there in the pile that Sally didn't recognise. She wasn't a magician herself, but she'd lived with Charlie long enough to have picked up quite a lot.

'What's that?' Sally asked, nodding at some gizmo Charlie held in his hand.

Charlie smiled. A little magic trick. Our dance talent is good enough, but I wanted to make sure we won.'

Sally knew better that to ask "how?" She had a pretty good idea how a lot of his tricks worked, not surprisingly. Instead, she shrugged and drank some more. 'I don't think I'm going to be able to sleep tonight.' She glanced at the little travelling alarm clock. Already, it was 2 am. She squealed. 'Just look at our winnings.' She pointed to the wine and the hamper. She looked inside. It contained some really nice goodies to eat, plus a couple of luxury toiletries. 'Wow,' she said.

Charlie also looked impressed. As for sleep - well, breakfast here is served 8-9 am. If we sleep or not tonight, today rather, since it's Sunday, it doesn't matter. All we have to do after breakfast is catch the train back home and then catch some kip there instead. What do you say?'

Sally drained her drink. 'I'll have another one. Do you think I'll be able to sleep after such a brilliant night as tonight?'

© 2017 Alice Dancer


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