All in Rick and Joan Memoirs
I wanted to explore how it was that random dance partners grew to become husband and wife so I asked the couple what they did while they were dating. One of the activities they talked about was meeting up on a Sunday and going for a nice walk along the New River. Rick explained that the New River was man made, but besides that neither seemed quite sure of the history, so I thought it would be interesting to look some information up.
I had previously written a post Saturday Night Dancing in 1950s London, and Rick was intent to correct some details. Dance classes were never on a Saturday evening; instead they were on a Saturday afternoon. During a dance class you would have men lined up on one side, and women lined up on another. They would have arrived separately and be asked to pair up in order to practice the dance. It is during a dance class that Rick and Joan were paired up to dance and subsequently started dating, grew to love each other, and got engaged on a rainy day while sheltering in a phone booth.
Imagine a couple of professional dance instructors going over the steps with both the ladies and men before asking them to pick a partner and practice the routine. The atmosphere must have been one of thrill and excitement, as boisterous teenage energy sent hearts thumping, and feet stumbling. With a strong attempt at outward manliness and confidence the young man would attempt to sweep the lady he was partnered with through the steps of the dance, while inwardly using all of his power to avoid stumbling over his own feet.