If in Lesbos a pure lesbian can,
Baby, you can Can Can, too.
'Can Can,' by Cole Porter
For the past nine years I've worked in the same office and stared out the same window at the same dilapidated building. And, yet, it wasn't until last week that I noticed the Fred Astaire Dance Studio sign painted across a grimy window across the alley.
I am not known for my powers of observation. It took me almost a year to realize that a friend I see almost daily had shaved off his beard. So, I might have never noticed the studio. But on that day, when I looked across the alley, a severe looking woman wearing blood-red lipstick and a tight knot of hair on top of her head caught my attention by waving a lavender silk scarf madly and gesturing me to open my window.
'Darling,' she said in a thick Russian accent, 'you come join my dance class now.' She pronounced dance as 'dah-ance,' which made me nervous. Women who toss unnecessary consonants into words have always been my undoing.
'But I don't like to dance,' I said.
'Everybody loves to dance,' she declared. 'Come now! A lesson begins in minutes!'
I have zero interest in the type of dancing that goes on in lesbian bars these days. It seems a waste of time at best and an exercise in abject humiliation at worse. However, I do recognize dancing's value as an opportunity to rub indiscriminately against attractive strangers. So, each time I go to a bar, I reluctantly drag myself out onto the floor and try to move my body as little as possible. I fear that any sudden movements on my part will cause people to assume that I've forgotten to take my medication.
What I want to know is what happened to structured dancing. The fox trot? The rumba? The tango? These dances have rules that you must follow. With these dances people aren't flinging their bodies all over the joint and there is much less threat that someone will be maimed. Wouldn't it be cool if Madonna came blasting out the sound system and the whole room broke out into a wild minuet?
The dance that I'd really like to see make a comeback is the Can Can. Not only is it French, and, therefore, frowned upon by the Christian Right, but it also is the one dance where you are guaranteed to see your partner's underpants.
'Do you teach the Can Can?' I yelled out across the alley.
The Russian took a deep drag of her cigarette and blew a fat plume of smoke in my direction. 'But of course,' she said. 'I give you your first Can Can lesson right now for free,' she said. And with that she kicked up her legs, sending her skirt flying into the air. Her underpants, like her scarf, were lavender silk. I shut down my computer and walked across the alley, where I signed up for my first dance class.