This Magic Moment
So different and so new
Was like any other
Until I kissed you
And then it happened
It took me by surprise
I knew that you felt it too
By the look in your eyes
As a word to the wise, there are
Magic Moments in every man's life when the
ability to dance gracefully to romantic music is mighty
important. You could be on a cruise, you could be on a
date, you could be at a party, or the moment could come as a
complete surprise. Will you be ready?
The smart ones learn how to Dance
AHEAD OF TIME. Be prepared. You never know when you
will need to know how to Dance. There are
moments in life when the ability to Dance gracefully
becomes the most important skill in the world.
If you don't have that skill, then you
are out of luck.
I can attest that this Dance Magic is
powerful stuff. Perhaps this story will make my point.
I was on a dance cruise. There was a woman on that
trip whom I was very interested in. To my chagrin,
despite my efforts, this lady had not paid a bit of
attention to me for for seven months. I had
penciled in this trip as my last chance to make a play for
At the Stroke of Midnight on the first
night of the trip, I walked
into the Disco. I was divorced, depressed and lonely.
There in the doorway on the opposite side of the room, I saw
the woman of my dreams. I raced across the floor and caught
her just as she was leaving. I asked her to dance...
she said yes.
This was my Magic Moment.
We have never been apart since. Three years later I married that lady. For you romantics, this
2001 tale of how I met Marla is quite a love story...
Someday, somewhere, quite possibly at
a time no one can predict, a man will have the opportunity
to dance with a woman he either already loves or would like
to get to know better.
Jane Austen's Elizabeth Bennett had it
Even if one's partner is
If there is music involved, then
the most powerful and direct way to the lady's heart is
In Jane Austen's day, Dance was a
preeminent invitation to Romance. Back then, Dance played a major role in
courtship rituals. Currently some people assume the importance of Dance has taken
a backseat to the Internet here in our modern age.
Things may have changed in the last
hundred years, but as far as I am concerned, Dance is still
just as powerful.
For example, in the final 11 years I
ran SSQQ, my dance studio, I recorded 274
marriages and engagements. And those are just the
people I know about. There were even more more.
I am not exaggerating... every one of those names is still
SSQQ Slow and Romance
if you don't believe me.
Today with the Internet, perhaps
people have forgotten how useful Dance can be to generate Romance.
Well, I have news for you. Many people use the
Internet to find someone, then turn around and use Dance to
nurture the romance.
Although we no longer have the strong European Ballroom traditions
of the 18th and 19th century, Dancing remains a direct path to a lady's heart
even today. The Art of
Romantic Dancing is a skill that could come in very handy
for some lucky guy.
this day and age, very few men take the time to learn to dance
gracefully with a woman in their arms. Consequently few
men understand just how intimately Slow Dance and Romance are linked in
the minds of the women they care about.
explain. Women like to be held. They enjoy having a
man's arms guide them around the dance floor, especially if it is a
guy who is gentle, smiles, and shows respect. They love the
floating feeling of the dance, especially if by some stroke of
fortune the man can capture the rhythm of the music.
Ultimately it is the music that opens a woman's heart. Music
evokes memories and emotions. Music softens a woman and makes
her receptive. It also makes her feel a little vulnerable.
If a man can make a woman feel safe on the dance floor, then she can
let go and open herself to the music.
Ladies can literally be swept off their feet by a man who can dance.
It is no accident that Dance is more effective than chocolate,
flowers, and poetry as a way to make a lady smile. The ability to dance
indicates to a woman that this particular man has taken the time to
develop a talent specifically designed to please her. Trust
me, the lady will appreciate his effort.
As I said, Dance
and Romance are connected in
a woman's mind more closely than most men realize. I cannot begin
to explain the sway that stories like Cinderella or
Beauty and the Beast hold over a woman's imagination.
Don't laugh. Fairy tales abound about how a girl can fall in
love with a gentleman on the dance floor. These stories make a
huge impression on a young girl's mind. Any man who can take a lady through a graceful Waltz to a beautiful
song will step right into the Prince's role in the back of her mind.
in large part to my experiences, I modestly suggest I am well
qualified to discuss the importance of Slow
Dancing. I imagine there are quite a few
unenlightened men out there who could use the tip.
When it comes to Dancing, some dances
reach a lady's heart better than others. The fast
dances like Salsa, Twostep, East Coast and West Coast Swing
all have value, but the dances that work to the Romantic
music are the 'Closers' if you know what I mean. The
problem with Slow Dance - be it Waltz, Foxtrot, Rumba,
- is that it does require some time and effort
to master this largely forgotten Art.
Furthermore the payoff may not be
suggest that Slow Dancing and Spare Tires
have a lot in common. Spare Tires are largely ignored until
that critical moment when a Spare Tire becomes the single most
important object in the world. You better have that tire ready
The same can be said for Slow Dancing.
The problem with dancing cheek to
cheek to a song like Sinatra's The Way You Look Tonight
is that modern life doesn't offer frequent chances to employ
this secret weapon. Therefore some patience and
optimism may be required.
hustle and bustle of everyday life, opportunities to dance come
infrequently and unpredictably. However, when that special
opportunity does occur, the ability to sweep a lady off her feet
might just lead to one of the finest memories of a man's life... and
her life too. She will remember you.
So let me repeat myself... will you be
ready? If so, you might have a Magic Moment
of your own. If not...
this in mind, I would like to tell the story of another dramatic moment when
Dance played a major role in my life. This incident
took place in November 2015 on a
Mediterranean island known
Malta. First I need to tell a background story.
Malta 2010 (Egypt
For the story of my 2015 adventure to make any sense,
let me first share the story of my own personal Poseidon Adventure.
In December 2010, Marla
and I had been hired as the Ballroom instructors on a cruise trip to
When Marla's brother Neil heard we were going to visit the Great
Pyramid of Egypt on this trip, he immediately asked Marla if he and
his wife Ellen could join us. Well, of course!
the happiest moments on the trip was having Neil and Ellen in our
dance classes. Like many men, this was the first time Neil had
danced with Ellen in years. Neil ended up having so much fun
that he said he needed to give this dancing idea a try when he headed back home to San
Believe it or not, none of us made it to Egypt. A terrible
storm developed that included hurricane winds and huge waves.
When our ship reached Alexandria, Egypt, the waves were so high that
our ship could not possibly dock. In addition, there was a nasty
surprise. At the last moment, the captain discovered there were a dozen or so unanchored ships in the harbor
unable to dock because they too were being tossed around in the
these conditions, the
captain realized it was nearly impossible for his giant cruise ship to
negotiate a safe path through all these random obstacles. So he
ordered an instant turnabout. In so
doing, our ship nearly capsized while making the sudden U-turn. It was a terrible moment that
I will never forget. In the process Marla and I were both
flung from our bed onto the cabin floor. Then we heard a huge
crash; it was the sound of the 30-foot high Christmas tree falling
to the floor. (full
chandelier came crashing down. A beautiful piano broke through a thick
glass window. All the ship's glass plates were destroyed.
One woman was killed by a flying television that struck her
head. The ship sustained a million dollars in damages. The ship lost most of its power.
this point, our ship limped from Egypt over to Malta to lick its
Malta is located
in the Mediterranean Sea about
miles south of Sicily and 200 miles north of Libya.
our ship landed in Malta, we were given two days to explore the
place. As one might gather, the mood on the ship was very
depressed. The trip was completely ruined for
everyone. Trying to cheer up, Marla, Neil, Ellen and I embarked
on a long walk through the downtown part of Valletta, the island's
an hour into our walk, we stumbled onto a very impressive hotel
overlooking the harbor.
I soon learned
this was a British hotel known as Hotel
insisted we go in. Neil said that he loved British
architecture and that this vintage war-era building was right up his alley.
the building, there was a large Foyer. To the right and to the
left, the Foyer led to wide hallways. Directly ahead was a
luxurious Main Lounge. Considering we were very tired, Neil suggested we
go inside and relax, maybe cheer up a little.
Main Lounge was spectacular. In the middle of this circular room was a bar.
Dominating the room was a lovely sculpture of a
swan-like woman. The floors were
marble with a lovely design in the center. The room itself had
giant support columns surrounded by comfortable antique furniture. The
spacious room was well lit and very cozy.
ordered the ladies some coffee. Then Neil and I ordered two beers.
Once Ellen and Marla got involved in
conversation, Neil swapped seats with Marla and sat next to me.
next thing I knew, Neil was giving me the military history of Malta
during World War II. Neil explained that Malta had been the
key to winning the campaign for North Africa during World War II.
Without Malta, a British colony at the time, the nearest British
port to Cairo would have been Gibraltar, 2,000 miles away.
Due to its unique position, the British were able to use Malta to
resupply their troops in Egypt and North Africa.
vital service came at a great cost. General Erwin Rommel,
German commander of Axis forces in North Africa, recognized
Malta's importance. In 1941, Rommel warned that "Unless we
Malta, the Axis will lose control of North Africa".
a brutal bombing campaign by the Axis. The tonnage
dropped by the combined Italian and German air force was actually
greater than the bombing of London. In a manner very similar
to the Battle of Britain, the Royal Air Force put up
quite a fight and helped Malta
survive the intense bombing. Finally after two years of
bombing, the Axis gave up the siege of Malta the end of 1942.
Neil related this story to me, I was astounded
by the breadth of his knowledge. I knew Neil had served in Naval
Intelligence, but his grasp of details was ridiculous. Finally I said
grief, Neil, I knew you were smart and that you studied military
history, but how do you remember so much about Malta? Most people
have never even heard of this place."
laughed. "Oh, it isn't that difficult. I am reading
a book about Malta. In fact, I have it with me."
Neil showed me his book then began to chuckle. I
frowned at him in mock protest. He really got me on that one.
next thing I knew, Neil and I were talking about Winston Churchill, the
invasion of Normandy and William the Conqueror. Neil loved
English history and I loved listening to him. That was the best talk Neil and I had on the entire trip.
this story had a happy ending, but it didn't.
One year later Neil was diagnosed
with cancer. Six months later Neil passed away.
In my opinion, Neil was an American
career in Naval Intelligence was important to our country. Neil was assigned to coordinate the
AWACS air surveillance system that
proved instrumental in winning the first Gulf War back in 1991.
Neil was later awarded a medal for his service by President Clinton.
The sad thing is
that Neil's cancer
was likely caused by his service to America.
Neil served several
tours of duty on some of our first atomic submarines
in the early Sixties. Due to ignorance about the dangers of
radiation, the men were poorly protected.
Repeated exposure to
radiation leaks caused every man in Neil's
unit to die of cancer. Neil was the last to go.
Neil was a heck of a guy.
cries about Neil all the time. As for me,
I admired Neil.
The man was decent, gentle, intelligent, and
loyal. Neil was a great husband, a great father, and a great
brother. What a shame it was to lose him.
Malta 2015 (Istanbul
and I took our
34th cruise trip
together. This trip
stretched from Istanbul to Rome with stops in Greece and Malta.
on a Sunday morning.
Marla and I tried to see more of the island
with a morning tour. Unfortunately our
not go well at all.
About halfway in, our tour was ruined by torrential rains.
point we got caught out in the open
under the rains.
The strong wind blew the rain sideways and got us soaking wet
despite our umbrellas. Shivering and miserable, we spent the
remainder of our time in wet clothes driving around the island.
As we stared
the rain-covered bus windows, we kept wishing
they would just take us back to the ship and get
it over with.
the time we finally returned to our cabin, Marla was beyond
disgusted and grouchy. After changing to dry clothes, we
went upstairs to eat lunch. To my
surprise, during lunch the weather cleared.
Now the sun came out.
that I was
back here in
Malta, Neil was on my mind. Noting that our ship wasn't going to
leave until 9 pm, I
wanted to return to Hotel Phoenicia.
That hotel was the location
of the happiest moment
I had shared with Neil back in 2010.
I wanted to
return to that hotel in
terrible mood, Marla looked at me like I was
nuts. However Marla
changed her mind when I told her my
reminded Marla of how special our visit had been to Hotel
Phoenicia five years earlier and how taken Neil had been
fabulous old-time British hotel.
So off we went.
I knew quite a bit about the hotel
based on our previous visit. I had
picked up a brochure that explained its history.
The Hotel Phoenicia
a five star hotel known for its elegance and World War II-style
architecture. Built in 1939 by Lord and Lady Strickland, the
aim of the project was to erect Malta’s
premier luxury hotel near Valletta’s main port.
Back in those days, Malta was still
a British colony. Malta would stay that way until 1964. Malta
officially became a republic in 1974. The last British troops left
peacefully in 1979.
World War II broke out, the Hotel
Phoenicia was still not officially opened. No matter. It
was almost finished and that was good enough for the British. The
accommodations were top-flight and the location
near the harbor was perfect. The
hotel was quickly annexed by the top brass as
their command post.
The hotel proved to be perfect
spot for running
the Malta resistance campaign against the Germans
The Germans were
determined to subdue Malta. Due to its strategic
position in the center of the Mediterranean, the island
suffered worse bombing than London itself. Nor was
the hotel spared. Indeed, the left wing of the hotel was
bombs. But fortunately the center of the hotel remained intact
and continued to serve as headquarters.
war, the damage was repaired.
Now it was time. The Hotel Phoenicia was
officially opened in 1947 by Lady Margaret Strickland. The Hotel
quickly became the center of Maltese society. This is where the
British elite who lived on Malta went to
mingle in style. They were
joined by many British
to escape the
bone-chilling British Isles.
to Hotel Phoenicia was
the perfect remedy. The hotel provided its cosmopolitan clientele a standard of comfort and
service equal to the finest hotels
in any European capital. Even better, the
sunny Maltese beaches offered the same warm Mediterranean climate as
the French Riviera. Malta became the vacation preference of
many British citizens following the war.
During our 2010 visit, Neil had been
very impressed by the Hotel Phoenicia. To him, it was
like being transported back in time to the World War II era. I
agreed with him. This was the coolest old-time hotel I had
So now as Marla and I trudged back
to the hotel in 2015, I felt an odd combination of joy and regret.
My regret was that Neil was no longer with us. My joy was that I
could re-capture the memories of our fond
moment from 2010.
It took us about an hour to finally
find our way back to the Hotel Phoenicia. We were
pretty tired from our long walk, but pleased nonetheless to reach
At the front entrance to the
Hotel Phoenicia, Marla and I took a photo
selfie and dedicated it to Neil. Marla immediately began
to cry. Bless her heart, Neil was always
so special to her.
It broke Marla's heart to think about
Marla was able to compose herself, I was ready to
leave. But just as we took a step, we heard dance music
coming from inside the hotel. It sounded like
one of my favorite Waltzes. "Come on, Marla, let's go check it
immediately paled. She exclaimed, "Rick, we can't go in there
looking like this!"
Marla had a point. She was dressed
in brown Capri's along with her favorite beat-up corduroy jacket.
Marla used this jacket for walking in the woods.
Her outfit was good
enough for squirrels and turtles, but it
the attire for British high society.
And what about me?
I looked even worse. I had on hiking boots,
blue jeans, plus a tee-shirt covered by my beloved red and black
Houston Rockets pullover complete with hood.
I had underneath the pullover was a tee-shirt, I could not
remove it. I looked like
a cross between a Jimmy Buffet Parrothead
and an aging drug dealer. I was certainly
not dressed properly. Then Marla added further
embarrassment. "Oh my gosh, Rick, look at your hair. It's sticking
out in a dozen different directions. Did you bring a comb
I frowned. No. I didn't think of
that. "So what,
Marla? I want to go inside and
see the lounge again and think of Neil."
raised more objections. Thanks to the problems of the rainy
morning, she was still feeling very tense. Looking like we did,
Marla had serious reservations about the wisdom of barging into this
bastion of British propriety. No doubt each and every high society
member in attendance would reflexively turn up his or her nose in
contempt at our bedraggled appearance.
stood outside the hotel,
I was definitely losing this
suddenly we were both
distracted by the start of the classic song
Goes By from Casablanca.
I noticed Marla was
intrigued by the music. She loves this
song. So I suggested we hurry inside and perhaps catch the second half
of the song. Marla
was tempted, but she still had trouble with our appearance.
will you please come inside and dance with me? How many times in life do we get a chance like
Marla began to soften.
Finally she agreed to check it out.
Curious, the two of us moved closer to the unguarded front door and
peered into the Foyer.
On the other side of the Foyer was the Main Lounge
20 feet away. From the Front Door, we could see a three-man
band inside the Main Lounge playing
just about to enter when Marla and I noticed a man, 75, sitting in a booth
in the Foyer nearby the lounge. I assumed
this man was a guard
of some sort.
guard was frowning mightily at us.
I knew what that look meant... 'Don't
you dare come in!'
This guy was clearly astonished to
see two homeless people standing at the
threshold of his exquisite hotel.
Sad to say, I think he concluded we were looking
for a free meal. There was definitely the aroma of warm food
coming from the
Practically crinkling his nose in disgust
the man gave us the dirtiest
look imaginable. He had a lot of confidence in his mean
look. The guard seemed
convinced he could run off with his stare
However, he misjudged his power over me.
you have read
A Simple Act of Kindness, my
childhood memoir, you will know I carry
considerable defiance towards the Upper Class. Thanks
to my years of growing
up poor while attending an expensive prep school
on scholarship, I
turned into a rebel. My nine years
at school had taught me contempt for certain social graces
I had little respect for. It was during
these years that
learned it was better to act and ask forgiveness than ask for
Therefore, once I heard that music, I was determined
to ignore the guard and go inside to dance.
Could I get away with it?
one thing, the
man's watch post did not block the entrance to the Main Lounge.
Nor did this elderly man appear
Plus he was sitting down and he would be slow to react.
In fact, we were closer to the entrance to
the Main Lounge than he was. Realizing
it was impossible for the guard to stop us,
those tempting words flashed across my mind's eye... Better
to act and ask forgiveness later...
From experience, I assumed it would
be much tougher to refuse admission once we were inside the bar.
So I took Marla's
hand and walked straight into the Main Lounge.
eyes, Marla reluctantly came along. If memory serves, I overcame
her reservations by dragging her somewhat
against her will. That way, if something
went wrong, she could always blame me.
was too astonished to say a word.
I think our boldness surprised him.
simply gaped in dismay as we blew by.
all the nerve! Americans no doubt. Who else? The
guard was appalled at our boorish
behavior. Those Yanks are the worst.
we were in the Main Lounge, I gambled it wouldn't be easy for
elderly man to come inside and confront
us. I believed it would risky for
him to make a scene. If he wanted to
enforce the dress code, that was his business, but I
intended to make him work up his courage and come get me.
Marla was very
uncomfortable. Because she
was raised better than I was, Marla isn't used to breaking social
prohibitions. However, I am afraid I have
been a bad influence on her. Marla seems to
better at breaking the rules thanks to me.
have noticed that stuffy, upturned noses don't have
nearly the same effect
on Marla as they once did.
I looked around. Seated at the giant bar
in the center were several well-dressed people
martinis. To my relief,
they didn't sniff when they saw us. Otherwise I think Marla might
have lost her courage. Instead they seemed amused at our
impertinence. Obviously their blue blood was tainted with some red
blood cells. No doubt
somewhere in their family tree lurked an ill-advised
intermarriage with the Middle Class.
room wasn't crowded. The
comfortable couches and chairs were about
33% full. About forty people
were spread out in every direction. I saw a huge
steaming buffet complete with all sorts
of trays and chafer kits used to keep the
food warm. I assumed the guard would
hurt me if I went anywhere near, so I did not investigate.
Instead I led Marla to the same couch and chairs we
had shared with Neil and Ellen five years
Then I went to the
bar to order us both a drink. I figured
the faster we invested in the economy of this place, the more chance
the grouchy guard could be persuaded to look the other way.
As I stood there, I
watched the trio of three men playing the music. There was a
drummer, a pianist, and a saxophone player. Like the guard,
the three men were
in their seventies.
delight, I realized we had stumbled upon a wonderful English
tradition... High Tea. What a
pleasant surprise! This was a
Sunday afternoon High Tea Reception at the hotel. I had read about
these events in books, but
had never seen
the men began to
play The Way You Look Tonight, a
Foxtrot standard made famous by Frank Sinatra among others.
The Way You Look Tonight
was written by Jerome Kern and Dorothy Fields. The song was
featured in the 1936 film Swing Time. The song
was performed in the movie with considerable charm by Fred Astaire.
Not only could Astaire dance, he played the piano and could
sing too! Incredibly talented man.
The Way You Look Tonight
became an immediate hit. It went on to win the 1937 Academy Award for
Best Original Song.
enjoyed the Astaire version, to me no one has ever performed
The Way You Look Tonight
better than Frank Sinatra. Let's face, the guy could really
I guess I should confess something.
When it comes to reaching a girl's heart, the ability to
sing works as well if not better than dancing. But how
many guys can sing well? Not many, but those who do
have a real advantage.
One word of caution to all men... learn not to be
jealous on the dance floor.
When a gifted singer like Frank
Sinatra begins to hum those lullabies, there will be times when your
lady's mind is more on Frank than on you. However, if you are
patient, she'll return to you eventually and be grateful for keeping
an open mind.
The Way You Look Tonight
has always been one of Marla's favorite songs. Seeing that
look in her eyes, I immediately put down my camera and asked Marla to dance,
barbarian attire be damned.
had a great line. Under her breath, she muttered,
"Just my luck... The Way I Look Tonight is terrible!"
we might be tossed out on our ears at any
moment, I decided to
confuse the spectators a little.
It was time to establish our credentials.
If we could get in at least a couple dance
people might conclude we weren't
If we impressed
someone, perhaps we could stay. After all, how many
dance a Foxtrot??
So right there on the
elegant marble floor, I rolled out my Box Step
followed in quick order by Diva Walk,
Inside Turn, Twinkle and
Instantly all eyes were
drawn to us. And why not? After
all, we were clearly the best dancers in the
room. Maybe I should add we were the only dancers in the room,
a fact that no doubt enhanced our superiority.
I noticed the three
band members were
casually dressed. No, they
gang-style hoodies like me, but they weren't wearing tuxes or ties either.
Instead they were dressed like regular middle class guys.
Once I saw that they didn't seem to mind
our disheveled appearance,
In fact, they liked us.
In particular, the saxophone player
thought we were great. When he finished his part of the
song, this gentleman put down his instrument and began to
watch us dance with undisguised
appreciation. At the end of the song,
the man beckoned for me to come over. The
sax player smiled and said, "I
want to say you are a very good dancer!
We don't get dancers like you very often."
I smiled and said, "Well, sir, you
are a very good musician. Thank you for playing for us.
My wife and I love your music."
two musicians appreciated the compliment as well.
My show of respect cemented an
instant bond. Now I had some allies. I knew if
that frowning guard came in for me, I might be able to appeal to the
sax player and his friends to intercede.
Speak of the
devil, there he was. The guard was standing in the doorway
right behind the band watching us with a disapproving
frown. We weren't out of the woods
yet. This arbiter of social grace was
oblivious to our beautiful display of dance. All he cared
about was that we looked like a pair of starving homeless people
desperate to eat the food at the
I took just one step towards the crumpets,
he would beat me with his cane and deliver
a lecture informing me this fine
food was reserved for proper guests. Or perhaps he was
more worried I
might steal one of the precious silver trays and stick it under my
pullover. We were definitely not welcome.
Sensing his disapproval, I
turned my back to the guard and walked in the
other direction to fetch our drinks at the bar.
The guard watched every step I took.
Obviously the guard was dedicated to preserving the integrity of the Tea Dance.
Marla had to use the restroom.
This took her outside the
Lounge back into
the same hallway patrolled by the guard. Upon
her return to the lounge, the grouchy
guard stopped Marla and demanded to
know why she was here. From what Marla told me,
he was pretty rude about it.
Marla replied that she and her
husband had heard the music from outside as we passed by and came
inside to check. She added how wonderful the band was. Then she
added that she had just purchased a coffee. Would he kindly permit her to reenter?
Marla stared at the
man to study his reaction. Marla had just
informed him she was a paying customer.
Would he have the nerve to deny her reentry??
The Grouch got the message.
It would be risky to evict a paying customer. Rolling
his eyes, he stepped aside. But he wasn't happy about it.
After Marla told me what had
happened, I concluded he wasn't finished with us yet.
Sure enough, as
Marla and I danced Rumba to Besame Mucho, I saw the
Grouch reappear in the doorway. This time he had company.
He was accompanied by a woman wearing a business suit
and a matching, no-nonsense business dress. Judging by her
heels, pulled back hair, and crossed arms, the guard had
fetched the hotel manager.
The guard had a very smug 'gotcha' look
on his face. I assumed that
since we were paying customers,
he didn't have the courage to bounce us on his
own authority. So instead he did the next best thing...
he sent the decision up the line.
This was a matter for the
Whatever the guard had told the
woman was effective. At first, this lady was not pleased. As she stood there
watching with frown and folded arms, I could see our
fate hung in the balance.
So I played my trump card... I
dipped Marla. Holding her delicately in prone
position, I looked up and smiled in the lady's direction. My
conspicuous display of charm did the trick.
I think the manager liked what she saw.
only did she uncross her arms, I
noticed she was trying hard not to smile.
After I brought
Marla back to her feet, I smiled at the manager again.
Then I quietly mouthed the word 'Please?' That did the trick...
the manager smiled back.
I imagined what
she was thinking... Hmm, pretty good dancers for a couple
of tourists. Americans no less. I didn't realize
Americans even knew how to dance...
Now with a flip of her hand,
the manager told the Grouch
to go back to
his watch post. Then she walked away.
Aha! We were in the clear.
Isn't it amazing what being polite can
the manager's departure,
Marla was finally able to
relax a bit. Still nervous after the hallway
encounter, she was pleased to know there would be no public
spectacle. Now we began to dance in
peace. They say the pen is
mightier than the sword. Well, let's just
say our Rumba
overcame their dress code. Marla's dancing helped
immeasurably. Never underestimate the persuasive force
of a woman who moves her hips gracefully.
The band stuck to
American Songbook standards. We
danced a Swing to Mack the Knife. Then came a Waltz
to Moon River.
After that the band played
Unforgettable, a classic slow dance
tune made famous by Nat King Cole. The song
would have been perfect, but the piano player decided to sing. Not
a good idea.
Piano Man didn't have a microphone, so
instruments drowned out most of his
singing. No such luck for Marla. She has better hearing
than me. Marla groaned noticeably
and tried her best not to listen. Pulling Marla closer, I
distracted her with
some tricky slow dance moves.
grinned and thanked me for redirecting her concentration.
At that moment,
to my surprise, we were joined on the dance
floor by another couple. Curious, I watched them
dance. The man definitely lacked polish, but made up
for his shortcomings with enthusiasm. Bouncing the woman from side
to side, he was clearly under the influence of several cocktails.
The lady held him tight. I wasn't sure if it was love or simply an
attempt to hold on for dear life. Although she managed to remain
erect, I noticed her feet
were barely touching the
floor. Good grief, this guy was practically carrying her. Therefore it was no surprise that the man tired quickly.
To the obvious relief of the woman,
they both sat back down.
couple did not dance well, but you know what? The lady was
smiling. This man was hardly light on his feet, but he made
her happy by trying anyway. I say that counts for something.
I grinned as a funny thought crossed my mind. I was
reminded of Elizabeth Bennett's immortal comment...
even if one's partner is barely tolerable..."
Now we had the floor to ourselves
could see our dancing
pleased our audience.
I saw many smiles. Tonight had become a very special moment for us.
Romantic Dancing seriously. I learned a long time ago
that Slow Dance and Romance go hand in hand.
After all, I began my courtship of Marla by asking her to dance. Ever since, I have
constantly polished my Slow
Dance skills just in case an occasion like tonight might arise.
As for Marla, she was a good sport.
Between the off-key singing, my thick pullover and
my messy hair, the moment wasn't
by any means. Nor was she
comfortable with her appearance. Where are my heels
and pretty dress? However,
wonderful wife that she is, Marla preserved the ambiance with
Tonight's Tea Dance wasn't perfect. However, Marla was gracious enough to overlook the flaws of the
occasion. When all was said and done, Marla
showed genuine appreciation
for my attempts to please her. Her
bad mood was gone. The dancing had cheered her up
immensely. I received a warm hug and
a smooch at the end of our
Life is good.
we could see it had turned
dark. So we were ready
to go. As I paid the bill,
I asked for a favor. Would the
bartender mind taking our picture?
Placing Marla in our signature dip, we smiled for the
Just as we were about to leave, two
ladies seated near the door summoned us over. As we approached,
these ladies grinned broadly. One of
the ladies thanked us for performing for them.
"I have been coming to these
Sunday brunches for years now and I have never seen anyone dance
like you two. Please come back!"
I explained that we were
on the cruise ship, so we would be gone soon.
Then I added to look for us again in five years. Perhaps
Fate would bring us back here again
smiled and said, "Well, I certainly hope so. You
and your wife make the music come to life."
And with that nice compliment, we waved
No doubt Marla prefers her slow
dances dressed in evening gown complete with
heels, necklace and earrings. Nevertheless Marla still
managed to thoroughly enjoy our unexpected evening of dancing.
I think the
elegant setting of the hotel helped
considerably. This had been a special
moment for both of us.
to the ship in darkness, I could see that Marla was in a much better
mood. Our Magic Moment at
had definitely cheered her up,
grouchy guard notwithstanding.
Now a word
advice to you guys. When it comes to dancing, Country
Western, Salsa and East Coast Swing are your
staples. Every man needs to learn
Twostep and Swing. If you are
single, partner dancing is still the
fastest way on Earth to get a pretty lady in your arms at first
sight... especially if you happen to be
near a dance floor.
and Swing will not help when the
romantic music starts. There comes a time when the ability to dance
gracefully to slow, romantic classics
becomes the most charming thing in the world.
Women form impressions about a man by the way he dances.
If he is gentle and can keep the beat,
Slow Dance is magic. As I have made clear, Slow Dance can
change a lady's mood considerably, especially to a beautiful song.
Women have told me for years how much a dance with a man she
cares about makes the song even more wonderful.
The moment becomes an instant memory.
From that point on, whenever the woman hears that song, she
thinks of you. As Jane Austen put it, "To be
fond of dancing was a certain step towards falling in
The problem is that these moments
are difficult to anticipate. Sometimes the opportunity to
Dance appears out of the blue.
When this chance
happens, you need to be ready.
adventure with Marla at Hotel Phoenicia was not an isolated
This sort of thing happens wherever we go. When we were on
Bourbon Street at Mardi Gras in 2004, we heard some blues music
coming from a bar as we passed by. On the spur of the moment,
we danced the Whip right there on the sidewalk. The next thing
we knew, a crowd of 50 were cheering and applauding. One guy
handed me a dollar; he thought we were street entertainers. In
a way, I guess we were.
When we were at the
Magic Fountain in Barcelona back in 2009, we danced a Viennese Waltz
to Blue Danube. A huge crowd back away to give
us room. It was fabulous moment.
During the Holiday Season 2014, we danced East
Coast Swing on the street to Christmas music during Houston's Lights in the
Heights. This chance came out of the blue.
In 2014 in Taormina, Sicily, we waltzed on
the sidewalk to That's Amore played by a two-man band
Early in 2015, Marla and I were on a river cruise along Germany's
legendary Rhine River. One night we found ourselves walking
alone in a little German village called
Rudesheim. As we passed a small pub, we could hear a band playing
music, so we went in. To our surprise, The Last Waltz
by Englebert Humperdinck was the very next song.
Marla and I raced to the floor and delighted everyone in the club
with the prettiest Waltz. It was unexpected
and it was beautiful.
that point on, whenever I mention Rudesheim to Marla, I always get a
smile. Rudesheim, Taormina, Mardi Gras, Barcelona... these
all have something in common with our
at Hotel Phoenicia.
Each opportunity took
us by surprise and each dance put a huge smile on Marla's face.
Take it from me.
Slow Dance and Romance go hand in hand. If a guy can
dance, then a smile from the woman he loves becomes the best reward
in the world.
However, if the guy can't dance,
the moment is lost. The man either knows how to Slow Dance or
The key is to prepare ahead of time.
Every one of you guys might
get a chance to Slow Dance at some point. You
might never know when some
occasion might present an opportunity to
dance. Maybe it will be an office Christmas party. Or maybe a
church will have a get-together and music will magically
appear. Perhaps a New Years Eve dinner
will feature a small combo. Or you are
sharing a drink in a bar in some far-off place and pretty background music
begins to play.
Someday, somewhere, sometime when you least expect it, you will get
Will you be ready or
will you drop the ball?
No man can fake Slow Dancing.
word to the wise... take a dance class ahead of time. Learning
to dance is
worth every moment you dedicate to the project. There is no finer way known to man to keep a romance alive than the
ability to dance to beautiful music.
Another powerful doorway to romance is
cruise or river cruise. Water is the universal symbol for
emotion. I have discovered a woman becomes very
receptive to romance at sea.
If you go on a
cruise, learn to dance ahead of time. A cruise is a high-probability opportunity to
employ those dance skills. As you stroll across the ship with your loved one,
you might just hear the most beautiful song.
thing happened on my wedding day to Marla. Seeing
Marla dressed in her wedding dress, a ship member winked at
her and said we could skip the life boat drill.
As we sat alone in the Lounge, a
pretty song began to play. Was it The Way You
Were? Or was it As Time Goes By?
Or was it Unforgettable? It doesn't
matter. The name of the song escapes me, but my memory
of this moment will never die. This quiet dance on our
Wedding Day was yet another Magic Moment for
the two of us because it led to many more similar moments.
trip to the Hotel Phoenicia has become a memory Marla
and I will always cherish. Frank
Sinatra, marble floor, three man band, beautiful lounge, and The Way You Look Tonight... can anyone imagine a more
surefire recipe for a Magic Moment?
I say add Dance to your Life. It
is a skill that will repay the time invested many, many