I dont dance

I don't dance. For the simply reason that I can't dance, so I try not to. I may, therefore, have made a mistake coming to Seville during the Feria, a week long party that sees the streets get taken over by crowds Spanish men, women and children, who hit the streets to eat, drink, laugh, and of course, dance.

I've been coaxed onto the dance floor by a Spanish lady who used the international language of prompting shy, socially reticent young men to come out of their shells; by striding up to me and forcibly pulling me up out of my chair onto the middle of the dance floor.

I'm somewhat embarrassed to say that I have actually had an eye wateringly expensive lesson in how to flamenco dance. After my exasperated teacher had realised that she was dealing with something of a remedial student, we just concentrated on the absolute basics, and I was repeatedly told to stretch one arm up to pick an imaginary apple from a tree with a twist, and then hold it behind my back. A move that when pulled off, makes the dancer look lithe, elegant, and naturally in rhythm to the music. When I try it, it looks like I'm suffering from severe lower back pain, and am in the process of fighting against a particularly painful muscle spasm.

I'm on the dance floor feeling acutely English. Gangly, awkward, slightly sun burned, wearing an ill fitting, slightly oversized shirt, which I'd bought at the market earlier that day, and which I've only recently realised makes me look faintly ridiculous. My effortlessly glamorous partner begins to dance, hitching her dress a few inches from the floor, and deftly stamping her feet in perfect time to the beat of the music. She increases the tempo until the ground is a dazzling blend of swirling fabric and footwork, the spectators clapping their appreciation. In return I obediently reach up to grab my imaginary apple, moving my hand behind my back with a twist as I'd been taught, awkwardly transferring my body weight from foot to foot in an effort to do something resembling dancing. The roars of laughter accompanied by sympathetic applause, confirm my suspicions that I'm probably not doing it right.

A man with buttock hugging trousers enthusiastically bounds into my place, and begins to glide back and forth in perfect symmetry, prompting me to leave the dance floor, mumbling a combination of thanks and apologies to my partner, whilst quietly adding that 'there's no need to show off' to no one in particular.

I retreat to a bar stool to order a plate of tapas, which is as delicious as it is cheap, accompanied by a glass of cold beer. I sit back and enjoy this simple luxury, looking round as I do so to catch the reflection of a slightly inebriated and sunburned tourist, wearing a contented smile, and the most ridiculous of shirts.

F Sandilands

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