is the 10th of twelve articles for light holiday reading in my 2020 series of Tom's Summer Shorts. The tales are a blend of my real life experiences, professional insights, personal views and fun stories. My hope is that in them you find joy and inspiration.
As a youngster I went to the Scottish country dance lessons which my mother ran in a local church hall. There I learned to twirl my way through the 'Dashing White Sergeant', 'Strip The Willow', 'Eightsome Reel' and countless other highland classics.
In later teens I attended Madame Murray's ballroom dancing classes. These took place at six o'clock on a Saturday evening. The tuition was usually followed by a visit to the pub for some 'Dutch courage' in the form of several beers before going on to a local dance hall to 'chat up the birds' and put into practice Madame Murray's teachings. These teachings included all the waltzes, the fox trot, sambas and tango. She even taught jive and rock 'n roll. Not un-naturally, these were my favourites!
An amusing part of her lessons was the assignation of partners for the lessons at the start of each session. Pupils were not allowed to choose a partner. The girls lined up at one side of the hall, the boys on the other. At her command, delivered by microphone from her all-seeing position on the stage at one end of the hall, both lines advanced towards each other. The idea was that your partner for the evening was whoever you ended up facing as the lines met. But, as the lines converged and it became apparent who your partner might be, shoving and pushing developed in the respective lines as boys and girls jostled to avoid an unwanted partner or to be opposite a preferred one! The operation generally degenerated into a mass brawl with Madame frantically blowing on the whistle she kept for just such indiscipline to try and restore order!
Later, in the dance hall, choosing a partner was more straightforward. The lad approached a girl he fancied and, in my north-east corner of Scotland, asked, “Yi duncin'?” (Are you dancing)? To which the girl would reply, “Yi askin'?” He'd say, “I'm askin'.” She, if agreeing, then replied, “I'm duncin'!” At which the lad would saunter proprietorily on to the dance floor with the girl in tow behind. When the girl declined the invitation to dance, her response was, “Nae chance!” accompanied by crossing her arms, half turning to her friends and sniggering snarkily with them. The poor reject, ego dented, shuffled off to try elsewhere – or not.
Having suffered my share of such rebuffals, I learned that the best tactic when picking a girl was to avoid asking the stand out beauties, those dazzlers whom most lads were hopelessly attracted to and buzzed around like demented bees. No, rather than involve myself as a consumer in what I saw as a 'limited supply and over demand' situation, I targeted my advances at the vast bulk of pretty girls waiting hopefully in the shadows. With little competition, I successfully danced with, and then dated, a stream of extremely agreeable young ladies.
When questioned by my friends as to my regular 'conquests', I advised three things :
1. Become the supply in a market in which there is huge demand rather than the other way around.
2. Provide best in class, well prepared goods or services – in the case of the dance hall, that was me!
3. Ask for the business.
As regards the last point, I never asked, “Yi duncin'?”, I asked, “Do you like the old or the new dance steps?” This prompted a reply like, “What's the difference?” To which I'd take the girl's hand and say, “C'm on I'll show you!”
Does this approach sound familiar to you? If you're in business it should. Because successful entrepreneurs seek out sectors in which there is huge demand but very little supply. Then, like me, they set about creating the supply and ensuring the provision of best in class goods or services.
And always ask for what you want. If you don't ask you'll remain forever the wallflower in the dance hall. But when you do ask, and frame your request compellingly, then you'll waltz off into the sunset with the belle of the ball. Are you dancing?
I am Tom Riach. I live and write in the sunny south of Portugal.
My latest novel is 'Too Early For A Glass Of Wine?' Claim your copy by clicking on the image below.
ARE YOU DANCING? is an original copyright Tom Riach feature.
I hope you enjoyed this Summer Short and found it to be of value.
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See you there! Regards, Tom.