Memoir: First Dance After My Passing Out Parade

A Dance to Remember

The Air Force is a fine place and one of the services that have an aura and glamour of its own. Despite a PG in Nuclear Physics I joined the Air Force and trained hard to pass the course and become a Pilot Officer. That was the first rank in the hierarchy at that time( Now this rank is abolished). The culmination of a rigorous period of training was a dinner dance after the passing out parade. I remember the passing out parade as a nostalgic moment in my life as we passed out from cadetship to become officers to the band playing “Auld Lang Syne”, a Latin tune. For long the forces retained the Anglo marching tunes like ” Colonel Bogey” and it was only much later that a few Indian tunes were incorporated, but the western tunes still hold sway.

The passing out parade( I shall write about it later) is followed up with a dinner dance for the cadets ( now officers), their relations and guests. Also invited are some girl guests who we had come to know during the times we were allowed to book out in mufti. The final training and dance were at Coimbatore.

I recollect that the first dance I attended was as a cadet. We were all very apprehensive as none of us had ever been at a formal dance. We confessed our fears to our Flight Commander a chap named Aminuddin Ahmed. He had a big laugh and told us not to worry as you have the Air Force crest in your pocket and that itself is an invitation. We were not allowed to book out of camp without our blue blazer with the Air Force crest on its pocket and the cadet tie as well.

The flight commander was right as at the dance we had no problems looking for partners and most girls preferred to know us. I became close to an Anglo-Indian girl and it was the start of a wonderful time. I invited her for the passing out parade ( POP) as well as the dinner dance. I can say my mother was aghast and didn’t like it one bit, but she came and we danced the foxtrot to the soulful music of Louis Armstrong. It was also the first time I tasted whiskey. This dance remains a memorable time to remember.

After the dance, I dropped her home on a borrowed bike ( my flight commanders) and we promised to meet each other forever. But before that, we drove miles and miles towards Siruvani the dense jungles around Coimbatore. It was a heady time in the forest with the cool breeze enveloping us. I stopped the bike under a tres in the dense forest. I carried her cradled her in my arms and laid her on the soft grass. A cool breeze blew and the stars shone in the sky. I undressed her and in amoment had buried my face in the most esoteric part of her body. the result was anector… I will never forget more so as it was a first time.

I dropped her home in the early hours of the morning. But our affair, if I can call it that did not flower as she later migrated to Australia. I have an old photo of the dance with me in Mess dress along with Mrs. Victor Srihari, who was the wife of Commander in Chief at that time. Well times and events take place and I do believe in what Lord Krishna says ” Not a leaf moves without my will”

Do The Borg Dance Argentine Tango?

Song of Solomon 6:3 ESV “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine;”

The woman in the coffee shop busily two-thumbed her “mobile device” without talking, as she waited in line with other people. I thought: with whom and to what degree is she connecting, and would she even be interested in learning [I’m a teacher] the Argentine Tango?

A bigger question: why would anyone so facilely and ubiquitously connected to “The Collective” be interested in learning to connect with another person at close range, as in the Argentine tango?

The Internet Foreshadows False Intimacy

According to an article in Christianity Today, “The Internet privileges self-revelation with all its feints, omissions, and dodges, while face-to-face contact over time bequeaths a wealth of observed information.”1 If you want to really get to know someone, you must at least communicate with them face to face. Even romantic partners find that texting does not result in a close relationship. Sujeiry Gonzalez, a dating coach, agrees, citing a study supporting this statement.3

The Argentine Tango Telegraphs True Intimacy

According to an article by Sasha Cagan,”Usually 10 minutes into the class you can tell more about a person’s character or the relationship within a couple than you could after talking.” In short, you can’t hide. Your expression of tango contains so much of you (e.g. posture and body language telegraph your personality) that you are virtually an open book. Of course, you may project on your partner and thus miss important information, but this happens in any encounter, on-line or off.

So Do the Borg Dance The Tango?

I know someone who both texts and dances tango (not at the same time – by the way, have you ever seen it?). There is no study to show a correlation or lack of one between heavy texters and Argentine tango dancers. But I’m betting it’s those unafraid of individuality and intimate connection at the same time who will go for this dance.

And Why Do I Dance The Argentine Tango?

  • It’s the music: earthy, dramatic, at times playful
  • It tests you: I must be decisive, innovative, clear, gentle and inspirational
  • It’s healthy: you burn calories, stretch and tone muscles, exercise your mind
  • It’s social: you can connect, play and develop a mutual understanding
  • It’s worldwide: everywhere they are doing it (some religious groups demure)





Prepare For A Professional Belly Dance Performance

The first performance as a soloist or a troupe member is difficult as most people are uncomfortable being the center of attention. There is one additional fear when part of a group… making a mistake. A mistake in a troupe is noticeable because it is obviously different from other members, attracting unwanted attention.

A child making a mistake during a children’s recital is cute. But when an adult makes a mistake, the person making the error feels terrible as she thinks everyone saw the mistake and she feels that she has let down other troupe members.

Dancing before an audience becomes easier with each performance as you become comfortable with people watching. The comfort level is created by focusing on the dance which you have created and sharing your talent with the audience. An entertainer is focused on the audience, not her self.

Are you ready?

  1. Have you gained experiences with a variety of shows?

  2. Are costumes of show quality?

  3. Do you have a library of dance steps committed to body memory?

  4. Have you learned acting skills to keep the audience attentive?

  5. Do you have business knowledge of advertising, publicity, marketing, and selling?

  6. Have you designed contracts for your clients?

Experiences are gained during training under the guidance of a teacher. All performances are reviewed in the classroom in order to correct or improve dancing skills.

Costumes are critical to performances. It is important to know your chosen style of dance. Are you a generalist or a specialist? Costumes are expensive. You need to have a minimum of three costumes.

Dance steps and routines need to be committed to body memory to imprint movements for smoothness and accuracy. It is to your advantage to rehearse performances in order to be rewarded with appreciation, word of mouth advertising, referrals, and financial compensation.

Personality and acting skills are added to the technical movements and steps to entertain the audience. Add drama, comedy, happiness, and other emotions to the story line of the music. The art of belly dancing includes audience participation. The audience needs to be included in your performance routine.

As a professional, knowledge and application of basic business skills is essential. The most important are advertising, marketing, publicity, and selling. You will need to invest and promote your self in order to get numerous gigs or jobs.

The contract is an agreement between the performer and the client relieving any concerns for both parties. The contract answers questions or concerns of both parties. Write on the contract all items of importance for clarity of all agreements. Include the amount of payment for services and products. All parties receive a copy of the agreement form and a receipt for monies paid.