Growing up, I adored watching Hollywood musicals. Singing in the Rain, High Society, An American in Paris, Meet Me in St Louis, West Side Story… anything with Judy Garland, Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Debbie Reynolds, Cyd Charisse, Ann Miller. I’d faithfully record them on video cassette (if you remember those, you’re at least as ‘wise’ as me) and had a special storage shoebox.
I actually hail from a family of performers. Mum met Dad when she auditioned as a singer for his band and they went on to spend years performing together in Adelaide dance halls with The Squires. My brother began learning saxophone at 11 years of age and is an accomplished musical entrepreneur. I took part in every school choir, musical production and a chorus role in The Adelaide Met’s ‘Hello Dolly!’ I even had a guest gig with my brother’s INXS cover band (yes, really).
The one thing I loved above all else was tap dancing. I would marvel at the speed, rhythm and style of those performers and secretly wish I could do it.
University, travel and career took over and that showbiz stuff fell to the wayside. Then I became a mum and a business owner and all of those ‘frivolous’ pursuits really went out the window. Who had time for that? I had responsibilities now. I didn’t have time for those things.
Then three things happened in my life.
My daughter started jazz and tap classes. Watching her learn, that little secret passion for tap was reignited. It had been years since I’d even thought about it. I remember sitting in the dance school waiting room and seeing second hand tap shoes for sale. I surreptitiously slipped on a pair for size then quickly took them off before anyone could see me. What was I thinking? I couldn’t do that.
On my decadent birthday cruise last September, I saw an exceptional vaudeville-style stage show, The Tap Pack. Those four guys simply lit up the stage. I was transported back in time – I was that girl again, glued to the TV on Saturday afternoons. I was in awe and completely spellbound. And all I could think was – I WANT TO DO THAT!
Then in December, a chance meeting sealed the deal. Watching a dance concert rehearsal, I wistfully confided to the mum beside me (we hadn’t even met) six fateful words… “I’ve ALWAYS wanted to learn tap.” She turned to me with a look of surprise and replied, “So have I!”
Cue 2018 and Tuesday isn’t just wash-up-and-make-school-lunches-and-put-out-the-bins-Tuesday.
It’s Tap Tuesday.
Under the effervescent guidance of the fabulous Deanne Fordham of Deanne Fordham School of Dance, every Tuesday night, me, my new tap buddy and five other intrepid women are learning Level 2 Tap. We are loving it and Deanne says (she’s very kind) that we’re pretty good. We have a What’s App group, we practice on weekends, occasionally we secretly work with our tap shoes on under our desks and we’re actually off to see The Tap Pack perform in Melbourne in May. It’s all just wonderfully, deliciously good.
It’s hard to describe the complete and utter satisfaction of achieving something like this. So many of us simply put off these secret passions. I’ve used all the excuses… I don’t have time. I’d look ridiculous. I’m a mum. I have too many responsibilities. I’ve never had a dance lesson in my life. It’s too late.
But you know what? It’s never too late. If I can hook up with a bunch of people I’ve never met and start learning to tap dance at 50, I can do anything. And watch out – you might even see us on stage in December. This is my year to ‘leap’.