Easy Virtue

What is it about old school dancing? Waltzing. The Tango. Even those 16th and 17th century precursors to line dancing. They put to shame the kind of dancing I grew up with (my forced P.E. excursion into square dancing excepted).

The first dances I attended were as a ninth and tenth grader in the school café. Loud pop and hair band ballads meant that dancing was bouncing and twisting in a gaggle of girlfriends or watching couples lean against each other. Where was the elegance, the intent, the exchange of information a person needs in the pairing game on the ark of  life?

I was reminded again of my woeful lack of skills Saturday night when Rob and I slipped into the city for yet another celebratory dinner and a movie. The film was an English one, Easy Virtue, based – loosely would be my guess – on the Noel Coward play of which there is a silent film adaption by Alfred Hitchcock no less.

Like most films that originate over the water without much interest in American audiences, the accent and speech patterns took a while to get used to and we missed a few jokes in the beginning. I adore English humor. It’s caustic. Corrosive and wicked, in a way I dream of being able to emulate someday.

The story is set in the late 1920’s but still pre-crash and involved the sudden marriage of an English country blue-blood to an older American woman who drove on the European racing circuit. Scandalous. His mother and sisters are horrified while his WWI shattered father merely smiles and cracks witty at the expense of all.

At different points her past becomes clearer (yeah, that old widow thing rears its predictable head) and she realizes that her love for her young husband cannot overcome the obstacles of his family and position and she decides to give him up for his own good. It’s Christmas and there is a dance taking place. And she tangos her defiance.

“A woman shouldn’t really dance like that with her father-in-law,” I whispered to Rob, who later brought up the valid point that having never had a living father-in-law myself, my observation was an interesting one.

Plot points in dance. Character motivation and intent revealed. It reminded me of Niles and Daphne on Frasier. Another favorite.

I only rarely slow danced. Not because I wasn’t asked, but I didn’t want to be that close to someone. There is nothing innocent about full body physical contact with another. The intimacy is suggested and as the dance continues it becomes more than just an invitation.

I am curious about others’ experience or perceptions. Leave a comment or link back.