The Last Dance

Last Dance at Colorado DanceSport

Small but enthusiastic group for the final Friday night dance at 5151 Federal Blvd.

Gosh with a title like “The Last Dance” you’d expect me to be writing a short story for you today.  Sorry, no such luck.

You see, life in Littleton, like so many growing places around the country, is in a state of change.  When we moved to the Denver area more than 15 years ago, I read how the population here was supposed to grow by as much as four times its one million residents by 2020.  Everything in and around Denver seems to be doing just that.  Please don’t let me get started on traffic issues!

Meanwhile, for the past five years, my good guy and I have been ballroom dancing at Colorado DanceSport on the corner of Federal and Bellview.  We’ve gone from clumping through boxed movements on flat feet to rolling through toes, heels, hips and any number of muscles and joints we didn’t know we had.  Our young teachers have grown from practically being babies to gracious adults who would never tell a student “you have two left feet,” as other studio instructors have been known to do.

Graffiti of well-wishes for Colorado DanceSport

Farewell to Colorado DanceSport

For five years my precious and I have gone to the Friday night parties at the studio, and learned to stop quaking at the thoughts of trying to guess what dance went with what music, or (heaven forbid) dance with others than ourselves.  We’re even brave enough now to dance with total strangers in–you guessed it–CLOSED POSITION!

Dance has opened a new world of skill for us, and a new community of people who come together to be happy and healthy.  If you ever have the chance to ballroom dance, do try it.  It takes just a little while to understand the basic movements and forever to master them.  All the while you learn so much about yourself, it’s amazing.

But the corner where we dance has been determined to be some sort of “blight” on the landscape of Littleton.  And the population around here is not exactly shrinking. Time for a Littleton update. So it’s good-bye to the charter school, the trophy shop, the insurance storefront.  Good-bye to the dentist, the pet groomers, and the bar with those unsavory looking people.  The entire corner will be razed to make room for a new–wait for it–apartment complex.  Yippee!  Make room for more people with their cars, their kids, and their overcrowding of our streets.  Make room for more tax dollars into the city.  Make room to blur the lines between Denver and the suburb even more.

So Colorado DanceSport held its last Friday night party last week.  Surprisingly, there was little sentimentality going on.  For most, it was just one more party.  The owners were off to a performance in California.  The instructors who weren’t required to be there went off to other Friday night entertainments.  The crowd was thin.

But I had a good time.  I made a point of dancing with all the gentlemen I’d learned steps with in the past (yes, women are allowed and encouraged to ask men to dance as much as the other way around).  And we scribbled final thoughts on the walls.  Things like “I met my husband here!” and, “Thanks for the memories.”  You can imagine what we wrote on the pole that was forever in the way of dance.

And then it was done.

They’re going to tear down the building to make way for the new apartments.  But the studio owners are doing what they can to bring the wood floor with them.

Yes, the studio is still open.  We’re not the victims of change.  We simply moved with the flow, and only a few blocks to the west.  We’re officially “sprawling” out to the next not-quite-a-major thoroughfare place. Yet.  And the floor will come with us.  The spirit will come with us.  We’ll even have a newer, bigger, brighter mirror ball.  How cool is that?

In fact, there’s really only one precious soul that may not make it to the new studio.  Maceo. Maceo is the owner’s dog.  He has stage-four cancer.  I can’t do justice to his story, and am tearing up just writing these few simple words. Next week, I think. Next week I’ll have words and pictures of the little guy who is so good at showing his affection.

For now, I must focus on the future.  The old studio is closing.  But we’re part of the lucky few who are flexible enough to move with the times.  The trophy shop owners are selling everything and closing completely.  The bar doesn’t look like it will make it either.  Who knows about the bank?  It’s part of a chain, so even if that branch doesn’t find a new home, there will be something to replace it somewhere else.

Moving from Colorado DanceSportIt’s funny.  There is a real feeling of closure here, of life moving on.  Things won’t be the same, but, depending on one’s own attitude, they can be great.  The new studio is bigger, brighter, and even beautiful.  The new studio is full of hope and professionalism.  I know ’cause I helped move it this past weekend.

We are, after all, a community.


Ballroom Dance Anyone?

Life in Littleton is good.  I have the first draft of my second book done, had a successful writer’s workshop last Saturday, and am ready for a short break–with ballroom dance.

Colorado Star Ball

Oh, the glitter and shine!

You heard me right.  I love to ballroom dance.  I love the music, the movement, the people and the bigness of it all.  Ballroom dance is also a great exercise for people of all ages and skill sets.  I like that “all skill sets” part because I’m not normally what you’d call dance “gifted.” Not like my friend, Uni, who has moves you wouldn’t believe, and the attitude to go with them.

But I’ll be dancing with Uni and nine other friends in a Ladies Performance routine Saturday afternoon.  Good luck to Melissa, Sandy, Barb, Debbie, Benedetta, Beth, Carol, and Stephanie.  Thank you, Lindsey, for another great routine.  And Diane in Houston, we’ll be missing you!

I’m not gifted in dance like my teachers at Colorado DanceSport. They dance for about 12 hours a day, six days a week.  These young people start their routines by working out at a gym. Then they have staff meetings, warm-ups, and stretches.  By the time the first students enter the dance studio, my teachers have already put in a few hours of uncompensated time to improve their physical well-being and professional skill sets.  When other professional dancers come into town, my teachers take lessons individually as well as with the students who invest in extra coaching.  This is an impressive group of people who maintain up-to-date dance moves, make dance fun, and help you keep in shape at the same time.

I’m not gifted either, like my husband, who takes lessons five days a week and goes to several competitions each year.  Did I mention that ballroom dance has a lot of opportunity to make the most of your vacation time?


I am very excited to be heading off to the one competition I enjoy each year–Colorado Star Ball.  This event, held in Westminster, Colorado (smack in between Boulder and Denver), is amazing, with dancers from all over the world and of every level of skill.  Do you know Jonathon Roberts and Anna Treybunskaya (hint: think Dancing With The Stars)?  Yep. They’ll be at Star Ball this year.

And, rumor has it that TLC will be filming for a new television show at the event.

Ballroom Dance Supplies

The stuff of dreams

But more important than all that is the DAZZLE!  You should see the dresses, the make-up, the hairdos, the spray-on suntans!  Everything is over-the-top and breath-taking.  For a few days you get to play dress-up to your heart’s content in Swarovski crystals, feathers and every color combo to catch the eye. Who cares if you know the steps?  “Winners” only get stickers, or glasses, sometimes a trophy you could buy for yourself at any trophy shop.  No, winning isn’t determined by the things you get at one of these events.

Winning is hearing your friends shout out your name or dance number in wild abandon as the music swirls around you.  Winning is taking yourself out of your comfort zone and flying across the floor with all of your heart–remembering to keep the shoulders down and the head up.  Winning is the smile that forms somewhere deep inside you and doesn’t stop  the entire length of the competition.  Winning is watching the pros inspire awe and admiration throughout the Saturday evening competition.  They dance so close you could reach out and touch them, but you don’t.  But sometimes, because they’re pros, they see you and wink at you with a smile that says “come join the fun.” And, of course, you get all mushy inside and promise yourself to practice harder in the year ahead.

Ballroom dance.  It’s another world.  But it’s well worth exploring.

No time or energy for this exercise?  No problem!  Check out Ella Barrick’s Ballroom Dance Mysteries.  Great fun with a little more blood than you’d usually find at a dance studio–no matter how “cutthroat” the competition.  I’ll be bringing my copy of Dead Man Waltzing with me to Westminster this weekend.

I hope you have a wonderful week ahead.  Please cross your fingers for my success with  terrific dance partners–Mitch and Jay– at Colorado Star Ball.