The first time I went to a dance in Colon was because most everyone I knew at school had reassured me that they were going to be there. So, I asked Pug to go with me but she refused, averring that she wasn’t really a dancer. It would have been the first dance in which I would meet some of my classmates socially, so I was eager to go.
That night about nine I paid my fare at the door and walked in alone dressed neatly, flaunting my sharp looking black and white brogans. Once inside, I roamed the hall as Armando Boza’s Orchestra played tunes that I was familiar with that made me eager to find a good partner to dance with.
By then I’d run into one of our classmates by the name of Nicholas Paganini. Nick was a very good student who loved taxidermy, the art or science of preserving animals and insects. He loved to bring some samples of his work to school on occasion, and it would make us all admire his skill at preserving the true nature of the species he had worked on. Nick introduced me to some young ladies who were sitting with an older lady, passively looking after her charges while the music stirred my soul.
Right after my introduction to Tita, one of the sisters, I made a move towards Barbara, the girl who sat passively next to her mother. A few minutes on the floor convinced me that Barbara was the excellent dancer of the two. The dance floor was not crowded then, but we danced and danced to any tune, showing off our tricks, dips and double dips, oblivious to everyone else around us.
That night I also met Dougie, Tita’s boyfriend, and we were all about the same age. I tried to keep our relationship amicable, since I had a steady girl with whom, by now, I had made a close bond with even indulging in some heavy necking. So, dancing for me was a way of being with my classmates and other the other adolescents since I did not grow up in the City of Colon and I really didn’t have any other close friends outside of school.
My friend, Albert Bryan, who really never showed up at these dances, had made it his duty to check in on me at home. He showed up one day to introduce me to Teacher Millington who had opened his day school at night for students, like me, who needed to study and could not.
My new occasional job, washing and shining up automobiles as if they were fresh from the factory was putting some added income in my pocket, affording me some of those littles joys of youth even if it didn’t add up to enough to take my steady girlfriend out to a restaurant even on a sometimes basis.
At any rate, some girls who I didn’t know, who seemed to attend every dance night that was announced over the radio stations that operated out of Colon, apparently saw me dancing with Barbara. One day, while passing by their home they called to me to come upstairs to meet them.That is how I would come to meet another set of dancing teens whose mother would end up paying my fare to an upcoming dance that would have me taking my turn at dancing with every one of them and even dancing with two or three of them at a time.
Although, we really had fun dancing and showing off, this would attract a lot of trouble for me at home, because it would set my mother off into her mood swings, one of which would almost take my life.
In the meantime, however, Victor Boa’s Orchestra played the most unique ballroom arrangements like Dancero, a more sedate rhythm that one could elegantly dance to.
This story continues.