Sunday, July 02, 2017

Halcyon Ballroom Dance Days

Here's a big oh-so-beautiful piece of my life right here!!!

Living in Tucson in 1981-82, I fell into a social circle of ambitious ballroom dancers. My instructor was the world's loveliest dancer, Margaret O'Hanlon, and she danced with Lonnie Mitchell. They joined with Rick and Sandy Valenzuela, and the circle shifted to Desert Terrace Dance Studio. The going rate for instruction was $60/hr, but I was a graduate student and couldn't afford anything near that, so Margaret gave me a deal and allowed me to pay $25/hr. It was glorious! And such a strange crowd - heiresses who didn't care for money but loved to laugh; world-class talent; the inscrutably exotic. But the center of the universe in 1981 was Ron Montez and Liz Curtis in Scottsdale, Arizona, and the circle soon shifted there. Being a poor graduate student, I couldn't follow for long, but I loved hanging out with them.

This video is from that exact time. There are the heroes of the age, Ron Montez and Liz Curtis. But more importantly, at 1:29 and again at 1:37, there is couple #116: Lonnie Mitchell, and the world's most beautiful dancer, Margaret O'Hanlon!!!

I lost touch with them. Time moved on. Rick Valenzuela had a brief moment of fame. He was Vanessa William's obnoxious but incredibly-gifted partner in the ballroom dance epic, 1998's "Dance With Me." (Liz Curtis had a supporting role in that film too.) And the rest dance on in comparative obscurity. Oh, to be young in that universe again!

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