One Beastly Dance (#73)

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My Chinese-American husband and I met in the competitive partner dancing world. My boyfriend/ partner at the time (Ethan) didn’t want to compete anymore. He said, “Hey, you should dance with Andy.”

THAT was a tactical error. Andy and I got along far better than Ethan and I did. I dumped Ethan and pined after Andy. Andy stuffed me into a box labeled “Friend.” Several dance competitions later, I made it out of the box, made out with Andy, and we’ve never looked back. Within a year we were engaged, and within another year we were married.

(Ethan doesn’t talk to us anymore, but “What Creates A Lifelong Grudge” is a different post. Don’t look for it. So far it’s only in my head.)

Because Andy and I already had many, many dance routines, we decided we did not want to learn a big, elaborate dance for our wedding.

My family decided that, yes, we did.

We slouched into our first wedding dance choreography session with scowls and attitude. Our instructor – henceforth known as Susannah Ballroom – raised her eyebrows at us. “I’ve never seen a paso doble as a wedding dance, but it would certainly suit the way the two of you are stomping about.”

“I HATE the idea of doing one of those cheesy, choreographed wedding dances,” I grumbled.

Andy nodded. After attending nine weddings that year, we’d shared multiple wince-worthy moments when wedding dances routines went seriously south. “Once they make a small mistake, they never recover their timing.”

Susannah Ballroom laughed. “Oh, but my darlings, you cannot compare yourself to the masses. They are not trained dancers.”

“Anna and Jason were,” I said.

“So were Anton and Patty,” Andy agreed. “They still looked wooden.”

“Uh-huh,” I agreed. “I don’t know what it is, but there’s just something about weddings that makes everyone miserable.”

“Probably paying for them,” Andy muttered.

“Ha-ha. Anyway, we haven’t seen a single wedding dance that even flowed, let alone looked fun,” I finished.

Susannah Ballroom narrowed her eyes at us. She clicked the shiny, long nails of her thumb and index finger together, and declared, “Then you shall not have a routine!”

“Yay!” Andy cheered. He made for the door.

Ballroom Susannah’s hand flashed out, wrapped around his bicep, and hauled Andy back. “I was not finished. You shall have a dance, darlings, not a routine. I shall teach you many  patterns and it will be up to you—” she poked Andy with a nail – “to decide when to execute them during the dance. The order will not be important, they will all flow, one into the other, and it will be a glorious, organic dance!”

We agreed.  Not that Susannah Ballroom noticed. She was already tapping her nails and choreographing in her head.

She snapped her fingers. “Your wedding guests – are they dancers?”

We shook our heads.

Susannah Ballroom sighed. “Then we must bring out the trash. The masses must have their trash. Some showy spins, dips, lifts. Is your wedding dress poofy?”

“SO poofy. And heavy.”

“No lifts, then,” Susannah Ballroom decided. “We cannot have back injuries before the honeymoon.”

Andy pumped his fist. “Whoo-who!”

Susannah Ballroom silenced him with a fingernail to the chest. “Do not cheer too soon. You have never danced with The Wedding Dress. Every time Autumn spins, the dress is going to hit you – whap, whap! – and hard. You must be ready!”

Susannah Ballroom spent an hour teaching us various rumba patterns that would work with our wedding song.

It took us six months to perfect them.

In my last meeting with the photographer before the wedding, I warned him that our wedding dance covered a lot of territory.

He pooh-poohed me. “Don’t worry, I’ve been photographing weddings and their dances for twenty years.”

“Not like this one.”

“It’ll be fine. I’m a professional.”

IMG_4361Our wedding dance was the one part of our wedding that went off without a hitch. I didn’t slip. Andy didn’t drop me. When twenty pounds of fabric whipped Andy’s legs, he didn’t flinch. The result of relentless practice was that by the time we danced, we knew our song and our steps so well, we could just enjoy the dance.

I included just enough of my face so you can see I am, in fact, smiling. And so is Andy, I promise, despite the heavy load.
I included just enough of my face so you can see I am, in fact, smiling. (And so is Andy, despite the heavy load.)

And the photographer? The man chased us all around the dance floor, huffing and puffing. Because we didn’t have a routine strictly choreographed to the music, Andy was even able to help the poor man out. As the guests clapped and laughed, Andy held several dips (and one tricky lean where he carried almost all of our weight plus the dress) for 10-30 seconds while the red-faced photographer scurried into position to take the perfect picture.

Afterwards, the exhausted photographer wiped sweat from his forehead and gasped, “I see…what you…mean about…covering…a lot of space!”

The best moment wasn’t the dance itself, though. Later, when Andy and I took a break from general dancing, Brilliant Blonde Lawyer Sister charged over to us.

“OH MY GOD!” she said. “That was beautiful! And seriously, with the candlelight, it was straight out of the Disney movie!!”

“What Disney movie?” I asked.

“What? I can’t believe you even need to ask! Am I the only one who could see it? Beauty and the Beast, of course! Look at chandelier! Look at the pillars in the ballroom! And your dress, it swirled all around, just like Belle’s! It was so beautiful!”

Brilliant Blonde Lawyer Sister hummed a few notes from the movie’s soundtrack, still smiling blissfully. It took her a minute to realize that Andy wasn’t smiling back. In fact, he had grown very still.

“What?” she asked.

Andy crossed his arms. “So I’m the Beast?”

Brilliant Blonde Lawyer Sister was quick on her feet. “No, no, OF COURSE NOT! I meant the scene at the end of the movie, when he’s a human prince and they are waltzing at their wedding! Hahahah, like you’re the Beast. Hahahaha. I’m just gonna get some wine.”

Brilliant Blonde Lawyer Sister fled.

I’m pretty sure Andy wasn’t truly insulted. I think he just couldn’t quite pass up an opportunity to get back at the sister who had led the charge to make us do a spectacular wedding dance.

But as I pulled my new husband back out on the dance floor, I whispered that the human prince at the end of Beauty and the Beast was pretty vanilla. And then I told him what my friends and I always wistfully said after the movie ended:

“The Beast was so much better than the prince.”

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Autumn Ashbough

WF writing about the humorous perils of life with Chinese-American significant other.

34 thoughts on “One Beastly Dance (#73)”

  1. Rumba, heh! The first time I danced a rumba, it brought me to a dizzy height. I’m having to fan myself, it must be the hot dinner I’m having at the moment.

    Choreographed wedding dance can be fun. ‘As you turn, you give your partner a slight, fleeting glance and a smile, called out the dance teacher.’

    >>>Several dance competitions later, I made it out of the box, made out with Andy, and we’ve never looked back.
    Sounds like a cliff hanger, Autumn!

  2. Who needs a Prince Charming anyway? The beast is so much better.

    I really envy you two. I would love to dance like that at my wedding, but Mr. Panda is quite untalented when it comes to rythmic moving. We had our first dance lesson: he accidentally kicked my right foot so hard that I started to bleed really bad. Needless to say that it was our first and last dance lesson 🙁

  3. I haven’t been to a wedding in a few years, don’t remember any unforgettable choreographed first dance though. Yours sounds awesome. Poor photographer, trying to keep up with you and the beast, I mean, Andy. 🙂

  4. Wish I could have seen your wedding dance live. Great idea of Susannah Ballroom to loosely construct the dance. Otherwise the photographer would have gotten NO pictures. Ohhh and the Beast? He and Belle only ended up married because he was a GEM underneath all that hair. Lol.

  5. Like a scene out of Beauty and the Beast. It must have been quite a dance. Apart from the dance music and the camera man’s huffs and puffs, did you hear anything else while you and Andy were dancing? Like cheers and claps?

    Your dress looks amazing and it looks like it swayed with the dance very well 🙂 And I have to agree – the prince was pretty vanilla. The Beast was the sexy one 😉

      1. Btw, I partly felt compelled to finally post was because of this. I’m not sure how many readers of your blog are from HI, but if there is only one, then I’m it. I don’t know you, your husband, or your husband’s family. Heck, I’m not even Chinese.

        Hope this helped.

        1. You know, I have a ton of readers from every other state (including Alaska) and every Canadian province, and every country in the EU, some countries in Latin America, a few readers in the Middle East and Africa, many in Australia, and so very many in Asia.

          But can you believe it? Only one in Hawaii. And that’s you! So again, thanks for taking a weight off my mind. I can continue with the next post, which is all about my in-laws. 🙂

  6. Another fan…

    Hi Autumn!

    I stumbled upon your blog a couple of weeks ago and now I’m hooked. You definitely have the ability to draw a reader in and feel what you want them to feel. Hope you continue to update us on your (now) married life. A belated congratulations to you and your husband on your marriage!

    1. Welcome, 808! You have NO IDEA how glad I am to see your comment. The analytics for my blog told me there was a repeat reader in Hawaii, close to where my in-laws live. Andy kept telling me I was paranoid, that there’s no way his parents would find this blog — or recognize it — but I disagreed. I don’t know if he’ll be happier finding out our secret is safe or that he was right.

      Either that or you are Sunny, trolling me masterfully. 😉

  7. It’s too bad the photographer did still shots. I’d love to see the video. That sounds like a dance everyone will remember for years to come. Your dress looks amazing!

  8. What a tease with the pictures of you guys! I want to pictures to go with names! Ah, well. I understand the need to protect yourself from Hawaiian stalkers.

    I don’t know anyone who has done a choreographed wedding dance. I think everyone where I’m from would be too drunk to attempt anything like that.

  9. I actually saw a really fun wedding dance routine by – interestingly enough – an Asian American male and British Caucasian female couple. They chose a pop song and did outrageous moves that made everyone laugh. They didn’t take themselves seriously and did something unique.

    I’m sure yours was amazing if you both are professional dancers! Congrats on pulling it off 🙂

    1. AMWF couples rule! Also, we dance.

      Oh, yeah, they key is not to take it too seriously. If you can laugh at your mistakes, so can everyone else instead of feeling bad about your embarrassment.

      Huh. I think that is actually my mantra for this blog.

  10. And you’ve got yourself a new fan! Yay!
    I love your writing style. It’s unique and fun! Easy to read and entertaining! I’ll be sticking to the blog now. :>

    Ooo, that dress looks amazing!
    Congrats on your wedding (though, I am late with the wishes!)!

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