When Mary Sings

Mary Frometa

Mary Frometa

Well, I let my friend Maggie invite me out for an evening of dancing this past weekend. I’m not the most dazzling dancer when I’m sick, but I noticed a couple of guys on the floor who made me feel energetic and graceful by comparison. Which is not to say I would single them out and make fun of them in front of other people. It takes a lot of courage to get out on a dance floor until you get to used to ignoring everyone around you. You can easily tell who dances often and who doesn’t by the way they pay attention to the people around them.

There are those of us who try to show some consideration to other couples on the dance floor. We take up as much space as possible so they don’t slam into us.

And there are the couples who shyly dance in the corner, hoping everyone else will leave them alone.

And there are the people who just body slam the heck out of anyone around them. They occasionally slam their own partners (usually, it’s the guy doing the leading). There used to be a tall, brawny guy who danced at Sullivan’s Steak House (in their Ringside lounge). I don’t think I ever saw him with the same partner. It probably took the women 2-3 weeks to recover from the bruising they took as he flung them across the dance floor. I used to dance with my back to him as often as possible to protect my partners from his violent swings.

But I digress.

Saturday was a strange night. Maggie wanted to go dancing so she called up a lot of people and asked me to reserve two tables. We picked Plaza 59 because — well, I don’t know why we picked it. I like Plaza 59 because it has a nice ambience and Mary’s Band. Sometimes the dance floor is a little too crowded. And this weekend it was sticky for some reason. I went up to Jessica, the hostess at Plaza 59, and asked her why the floor was sticky. She made a funny face and said (imagine this with a Mexican accent), “Steenky? I don’t know about the floor being steenky.”

Okay, she’s cute and all, but I was not speaking loudly because I am not feeling good. I had to laugh when I realized she misunderstood me. So, a good rule of thumb is do not whisper to the hostess when the music is playing.

Maggie was in a Cha Cha mood all night. I should have realized something was up when she said, “Michael, let’s go to Plaza 59.” Of course, she is also trying to wean me away from the girl I’ve been seeing and match me up with someone else. The other girl did not show because she was…feeling sick. Hm. Must be a lot of that going around. But I’m in no rush to make a change.

Anyway, Maggie was complaining about the DJ playing only Salsa music (which was actually a good thing, because some nights they’ll play mostly Merengue and Cumbia). Well, I went up to the DJ and asked him to play some Cha Cha. I felt like I had landed on another planet. “Cha cha?” he said, looking around. (Imagine this with a Mexican accent.) “You want Cha cha.”

Well, we got our Cha Cha, but I’m not sure who it was by. It sounded like a cross between Cha Cha and Hip Hop (think of Carlos Santana partnering with Tupak). So, Maggie and I got out there and did a Cha Cha with 2 or 3 other couples (which is actually good, because Cha Cha needs a lot of room unless you just go straight back and forth).

Well, a little later, the DJ started playing a Salsa song I have on CD. I was thinking, “Hey, I like this song.” And all of sudden Maggie came over and said, “Michael! Cha Cha!” (I have previously mentioned that she’ll pop up out of nowhere when she hears a song she can dance Cha Cha to.)

“Maggie, this is a Salsa.”

“I know, but you can dance Cha Cha to it!”

So, I bowed to the inevitable and we danced Cha Cha while other people cartwheeled to a slow Salsa. Maybe they were just getting out of our way, I don’t know. About 1/3 of the way through the song Maggie said, “This is fast. Maybe we should dance Salsa.” Well, the heck with that!

“No, you wanted to dance Cha Cha, so we’re dancing Cha Cha.”

And away we went as about a half dozen couples scattered to get out of the way. It was like rats fleeing before a forest fire or something. Quite an empowering sight to see, actually.

Maggie and I have danced a faster Cha Cha, though. Only once. One night, someone at Elvia’s played a Hip Hop Merengue (or maybe it was at Tropicana). I think this blend is called Reggaeton. So, there we were out on the dance floor and the jungle drums of the Caribbean started thrumming in our ears. “Michael, Cha Cha!” Maggie screamed. “No, Maggie, it’s a Merengue.” “But we can dance Cha Cha to it!”

Well, when we staggered off the floor after that song, my feet hurt for about 15 minutes and all our friends said, “That was the fastest Cha Cha I’ve ever seen.” So, the song we danced to Saturday wasn’t quite so bad, but like I said, people were scurrying to get out of our way. I was determined not to just go back and forth (which is probably what any sane, healthy person would have done).

There’s a point to it all somewhere, I’m sure. Maggie of course insisted on getting to the club early so we could have some dance space to ourselves. Mary’s Band usually starts late and they came on around 11:00 PM. I was sitting at my new table (did I mention that Jessica moved me up by the stage?) and watching about six couples gyrate strangely to a slow Salsa (they were actually trying to do what I call “hang dancing”, where the two people lean into each other and hang on each other and go in slow circles). I was just kind of amazed that that many guys who didn’t know how to dance had gotten out on the floor at the same time.

So, then along came Mary and I forgot what the night was supposed to be about. Mary is just absolutely gorgeous and her Mary Frometa Web site doesn’t do her justice. I’ve watched her bring an entire club to its feet just by walking across the room. Saturday night, Mary walked past my table as the band was setting up and I noticed she was dressed sexy. I mean hot. She was decked out, dressed to kill, and looking for Men to Murder.

I don’t think I danced again once the band started playing. I was sitting on Mary’s left and had a virtually unobstructed view of the band. My usual table is way back by the bar, close to the dance floor but close to the front door where my friends can find me. I suppose I’ve lost my premium seating privileges because I’ve been so inconsistent at Plaza 59, but I’ve had other things going on, and my friends like Tropicana, and my boss just came and talked to me so I have lost my train of thought.

Well, there was one more dance right before Mary’s Band started playing. It was a Bachata. So Maggie likes Bachata and we got out there. Now, Maggie is a very good dancer, but she is a bit flighty. She’ll take over the lead in the middle of the song if she doesn’t like what’s happening. There is a Bachata step where instead of going side to side you go back and forth, frontwards and backwards. As I moved into that step I felt Maggie take the lead.

Next thing I know, I’m doing a step/step-step-step/step.

“What are you doing?” I asked.

“Michael! Cha cha!”