Or at least smile a lot and try not to tread on our partners while trying to remember What Comes Next?

I’ve danced English country dances just twice in the past, during the Beau Monde’s evening events at RWA conferences. It’s been fun but not as easy as it looks in some of the Jane Austen films. The figures may seem fairly simple when you’re just watching but when you’re in the thick of the action it’s easy to get confused. Add a dose of jet lag and a glass or two of wine and you have the makings of a proper train wreck. I’ve been in (and probably caused) a few. 🙂

Anyway, I’ve always envied people who have the opportunity to take proper English country dance lessons and participate in events like the Jane Austen ball Cara blogged about. So did I feel stupid when I finally learned about Binghamton Community Dance’s English Country Dance classes via the UU church bulletin board!

Despite our insane schedule my husband and I have started the current set of classes. I’m still not the swiftest person there but at least the jet lag and wine aren’t factors! Most of the other people have been at it for a while, but they’ve been remarkably welcoming to us newcomers. The callers are patient and–here’s an amazing treat!–they have live music. A group called Fine Companions provide the music which includes cello, violin, piano and flute for what feels like a truly authentic and delightful experience.

So far, I’ve made a few mistakes but with so many more experienced dancers around, I haven’t managed to cause a train wreck. Yet. :)And it’s been a blast. A psychic at a conference once told me that historical romance authors are reliving past lives. If so, I probably truly enjoyed dancing during the Regency even if, like now, I was more vigorous than graceful.

I do wonder what some of those balls were really like. People probably did dance the same dances for years so perhaps they danced as smoothly as those pictured in the film adaptation of Emma (at the top). On the other hand, I’ll bet they did imbibe quite a bit of wine or punch during those balls. Maybe some of the performances were a bit more ragged, like the Meriton assembly in the recent P&P.

What do you think? What has been your experience of English Country dance?