Dance Rebels

9/2/2020–You can’t keep a good dancer down.

Recently I heard there was a gang of dancing rebels operating a “dance easy” in Fredericksburg. Apparently this loosely connected group of five or six couples gather on a weekly basis to… wait for it… dance in public.

Through my network of informants, I was able to track down the location and time when they surreptitiously gather. So one night, under the pretense of “running an errand,” I slipped out of the house around dusk and drove to the appointed site.

As I approached the dancing area, it took a moment to spot the group. They were huddled around a table in the shadows of a pillar. While it was a public place, they could easily appear to passersby as a group of picnickers sharing quiet conversation. The only clue to their true purpose was a small speaker playing two-stepping tunes.

They didn’t want me to use their real names or reveal the location of their brazen act of civil disobedience. So I assigned the two main organizers the aliases Lindyhop and Jitterbug.

“We just want to dance,” insisted Jitterbug, sotto voce. “And there’s no place to go dancing anymore–they shut everything down. So this is a chance for me to go dancing and have a little fun.”

The group is partly an outgrowth of the free PCAA concerts in the park. When those were canceled in deference to the various mandates against public gatherings, it left a hole on the calendars of dedicated dancers. They decided to continue the get-togethers, only with recorded music rather than live bands.

“Before the lockdown we used to all dance together around town,” Lindyhop said, explaining how this group started. “It’d been three or four months since we last danced and we’re not ready to go back to the bars just yet. So we said let’s just go play our music, keep our distance, have some friends that we trust, and get a little exercise.”

It’s important to note that several in the group were uncomfortable having me writing about this. Its not that they fear public backlash, but rather they fear too many will show up.

The members that I interviewed also wanted it emphasized that they closely follow all public guidelines related to avoiding any spread of the virus, including masking up, not sharing food or drink, and maintaining a safe distance. One spouse mentioned helpfully that “we don’t switch partners,” meaning, of course, they only dance with the one they brung.

In a way, these inveterate two-steppers are just reaffirming Fredericksburg’s heritage of dance. I’ve written before of the dance clubs that used to thrive in the area. There was a time up to five or six clubs were operating simultaneously. Many couples belonged to several groups, which met on different nights so you could participate in more than one.

Those gradually dwindled until none are active.

But you can’t keep a good dancer down.

If you are interested in joining this group, you’ll have to figure it out on your own. Or, just start your own group. Start by looking for people who “just want to dance.”