Monday, September 08, 2008
we came to dance
When we moved here to Taos seven-plus years ago, part of our plan was to learn to dance in the local two-step scene. It's really jumpin' here, and there's always live music somewhere in town to dance to. Shyness, laziness, and self-consciousness got the best of us though, and we found one excuse after another not to dance. We even took a lesson once a couple of years ago, and that set us back even further. Overwhelmed with all the intricacies of the Taos Two-Step, we just decided it wasn't for us, and made ourselves happy to sit on the sidelines tapping our feet and sipping our margaritas.
This past weekend was the annual Michael Hearne Big Barn Dance Music Festival. It's one of our favorite events of the year, even without the dancing. The music is all singer-songwriter kind of stuff, and we just enjoy the heck out of it. This is one of those small town things that will probably go big in the next couple of years. But right now it's more of a Hearne Family Picnic than a major national draw, which is fine with us. There were members of the Hearne family all over the place, many of them musicians. There was ongoing music outdoors at the OBL restaurant for three days, along with a sunny little dance floor, a bar-b-que, and a Bud Light truck to keep folks from drying out like chiles in the New Mexico sun. There were dogs and kids and lots of beautiful boots and skirts and jewelry. There was a tiny three-year-old kid name Zeke who brought his little green guitar and "played along" with every single band from his seat in the front row. There was even a grab-your-hanky-honey surprise marriage proposal from Michael Hearne's son, Travis, who is heading off to Iraq next week. Not a dry eye in the tent, I'll tell you. She said yes. And then it was back to more amazing music until the milky way had moved half way across the spangled black sky. What's not to love about a thing like this? Even Heidi enjoyed it, playing with the other dogs, getting lots of attention, and napping in Rick's chair.
The grand finale is always the actual Barn Dance itself, on Saturday night. This year it was held at the KTAO Solar Center, in the giganto tent they have out there. Not a real barn, but it does have a lovely dance floor. Rick and I went out there ready to give it one more try. I wore my magic red boots, hoping they would somehow become self-dancing. We sat around on a hay bale for a while, sipped a beer, and then Rick jumped up and said, Come on. Let's get out there. We were pretty clumsy at first, but after a couple of songs rolled by, we started to get the hang of that weird counting and stepping. Slow, slow, quick, quick makes no sense at first, but the dance was invented by saloon girls so they could easily teach the cowboys how to dance with them. It can't be that hard. We persevered. And pretty soon, we weren't counting out loud anymore and we began to stumble over each other less and less. Well, what do you know... we were dancing the two-step.
We stayed on that dance floor for hours, laughing at our mistakes and having a terrific time. We weren't the only novices out there either. There was a newlywed couple who were starting their marriage off right by learning to dance their way fearlessly through the crowd together. There was an old tie-dyed rock n'roll couple who refused to give up their 60's style. There was a swingin', skinny pair who somehow mixed some jitterbug into their two-step. And there were plenty of really good, practiced two-steppers to show us how good we might be someday if we just keep trying.
We plan to practice at home now. We're inspired. And it feels like maybe now we can sell this house and move on, because we've finally completed the list of things we set out to do here. The Mountain does not take promises lightly. We came to Taos to dance and though it took a while to do it, there we were, dancing with all our might at the foot of old Taos Mountain. Now maybe she'll let us dance on down this sunflower-lined driveway and on down the road.