These are my written thoughts about my personal dance with a young man I met, and later married. Our dance continued until his death but my love remains.
This is a title to a very meaningful song by Leonard Cohen. My research of his song reveals that Mr. Cohen was thinking of the Holocaust victims. Many others have interpreted his song for their own personal use. I pay homage to the author of this song and his beliefs. To me and for me, the ‘dance’ offered me many suggestions. I found multiple reasons to write about “The Dance!”
“DANCE ME TO YOUR BEAUTY WITH A BURNING VIOLIN DANCE ME THROUGH THE PANIC ‘TILL I’M GATHERED SAFELY IN LIFT ME LIKE AN OLIVE BRANCH AND BE MY HOMEWARD DOVE DANCE ME TO THE END OF LOVE” (L. Cohen)
I’m framing the song around two people. A young man, mustering out of the Navy, whom I met on a Friday evening on September 14, 1956. My friends were all going stag to a party they had heard about through the grapevine. I was invited. We arrived at 9 p.m. and the party was in full swing. Two young sailors from Mamaroneck had just completed their four years in the US Navy! The party was in their honor! One was thinking about signing up for twenty more years (the guy I ended up with).
I was invited to dance with one of the Navy guys! His opening statement was: “I saw you smiling at me from across the room.” (Yes, I was smiling but not exactly at him!). We danced and then he asked if he could take me to dinner. With all my sophistication or the lack of it, I said, “I had dinner many hours ago!”. He replied: “Well, how about coffee, and I’ll take you home?”. I agreed. Once I told the girls that I went to the dance with, that I was going to the local Diner, they commented” “you don’t know him; is it safe?”. I went along with my gut feelings. The Diner will be filled with familiar people, how bad or harmful could it be? He knew everybody. But, there was a moment I had concern. He didn’t sit opposite me in the booth. He sat next to me! I found that pretty weird!
You know how the playbill goes; he asks for a date, (next night), my phone number and would I draw a map for directions to my house. When he dropped me off and walked me to the door; He said: “I’ll call you in the morning and we will talk about Saturday night.”. Since I didn’t really believe him and he’d had a few drinks, I figured he would not even remember.
I spent most of Saturday a.m. on the phone with the girlfriends who had invited me to the party. They wanted the low down on Friday eve! They mentioned that they were all going to The Seven Pines to dance. They invited us to join them. He called and wanted to know why my phone was busy for so long? Need I explain? Yes, he asked me out. I mentioned that my friends invited us to join them for dancing. He agreed and said he’d pick me up early so we could have dinner first.
He showed up on time and stylishly dressed. He went out and bought a navy suit and trimmings! He looked like he had just stepped out of a shop window! I was impressed! He hit the right note with my Mom, also!
My friends were amazed too! So, once again, we danced! This felt different than the night before. Feelings were beginning to sprout. We danced the night away. We went out again, the next day, Sunday. Our dance began on 9/14/1956 and it went on until 6/7/1990.
“DANCE ME TO THE WEDDING NOW, DANCE ME ON AND ON DANCE ME VERY TENDERLY AND DANCE ME VERY LONG WE’RE BOTH OF US BENEATH OUR LOVE, WE’RE BOTH ABOVE DANCE ME TO THE END OF LOVE” (L. Cohen)
The dance often changed in tempo and sometimes, we were out of step. He definitely wanted to lead the dance and all the steps. But there were times, I wanted to move to a different rhythm, opposite steps! We even went to Fred Astaire Dance studio to improve our movements and learn new foot action. By now, I think you, the reader, grasp what I am saying with the written word. Adjustment in life, like the dance, is needed. The secret is to keep changing and updating your steps! Change the tune; keep the music alive!
Once you find your life’s mate, it’s wise to encompass many rhythms. Always go with the flow; whether slow or fast! As I look back at my dance card, I really had only one dance partner. On occasion, perhaps at a wedding, I’d dance with an uncle or join in the group dances. I was very content with my dance partner.
“DANCE ME TO THE CHILDREN WHO ARE ASKING TO BE BORN DANCE ME THROUGH THE CURTAINS THAT OUR KISSES OUTWORN RAISE A TENT OF SHELTER NOW, THOUGH EVERY THREAD IS TORN DANCE ME TO THE END OF LOVE” (L. Cohen)
Often, more times than not, children play a supreme role in marriage. Mom & Dad are not always on the same music page. Often, they’re reading from different music sheets! Notes, words clashing! Time for a dance break. Now, how do we fix these differences and come out with the same tune, or partner, so we can keep the dance moving? Sad to say, when our words and our feet get so tangled, someone dances away! A partner may just dance right off the floor and find a new mate. The dance has become something other than pleasant. If we could learn, from the beginning, that the steps in a dance can be changed and they should not rule our lives. Hopefully, always for the best. I’m sure, remnants of the ‘old song’ still remain. Let it go, like Cohen’s ‘outworn curtain!’
“DANCE ME TO YOUR BEAUTY WITH A BURNING VIOLIN DANCE ME THROUGH THE PANIC ‘TIL I’M GATHERED SAFELY IN TOUCH ME WITH YOUR NAKED HAND, TOUCH ME WITH YOUR GLOVE DANCE ME TO THE END OF LOVE.” (L. Cohen)
So we either learn to “dance” together or not. It takes years of practice for all of our dance steps to match but we dance on; sometimes slow, oftentimes too fast but the idea is to make the dance last!
Did you know that dancing is a healing process? Your movements and spirit come into play and release your stress and pain. Just by changing your body motion, your emotions climb to a more positive scale.
Even though my partner has danced his way to the Grand Ballroom above, I still dance when I’m doing my morning exercise with Anthony Quinn and “Zorba the Greek” or L. Cohen’s “Dance Me To The End of Love.” Now, my partner is a chair to hang on to. Play your own tune and dance to the moon! Just dance! My last dance with Larry was May 16, 1990, at Mary McGowan’s wedding in New Jersey.
To Larry I’d say:
“If fate could repeat itself; I’d choose you all over again And we’d finish the dance, together, to the end of love.”
To you, my reader, I say; “Choose well, dance often, to the end of love”
Thanks, Leonard Cohen for your music and your dance. I’m sure you are making new music above and continuing to ‘dance to love!’
The wisdom is to keep finding the notes, the steps; that will keep you on the same page! Always Dance to the end of love. This is a new year, a new beginning; DANCE!
Thank you Larry and Leonard Cohen; “Thank You For The Dance!”
Happy New Year, guys, on the heavenly dance floor of love!
Nancy Fraioli is a retired Benefits Asst. from Town/Village of Harrison, NY. She’s alive and well, residing in Sarasota with her daughter and family and enjoying the Floridian lifestyle daily.
Her passions are writing, reading books of philosophy, children’s stories and poetry. Her deep love is living, learning and sharing how faith, meditation, and music guide her daily life. And she loves to lunch with the ladies!