Dance With Me
By Georgie Cox
Most of my young life I’d wanted to dance; just feeling my body swaying in harmony to the music made me feel good inside. I’d practise after school in front of the mirror thinking I was pretty good. Dad had other ideas when I said I wanted to be a dancer. “Don’t be silly girl,” he’d said, “get a nice job in an office; put this nonsense out of your head.”
Mum agreed with him. “Don’t know where you get these fancy ideas from Ruby.” She’d added shaking her head at me.
But I couldn’t put it out of my head. So when I left school I paid for my own dance lessons. I was lucky I lived in London, there were several reputable schools around.
It was at one these lessons I met Jack Turner. He was slim, tall, with dark wavy hair and deep set hazel eyes that were heaven to look into. He talked with an American accent and he was, what I would call, every woman’s dream. He asked me to go for coffee after the lesson was finished; I thought I was going to faint!
We ended up in a coffee bar in Oxford Street and here began the beginning of my adult life.
“Have you been dancing long?” He'd asked taking a sip of coffee.
Looking deep into those gorgeous eyes, I'd replied, “Around four months now.”
He told me he lived in the Knightsbridge with his father who was a freelance accountant and divorced from his mother; who was an American and lived in New York. He went on to tell me he spent the summer holiday's with his mom; as he pronounced it. Jack was studying drama at college and wanted extra dance lessons; even though his dad would have preferred him to be an accountant like him, or a doctor like his mother. I'd laughed and told him about my parents and how they also wished I would stop playing with these fancy ideas, as they’d put it.
“My dad’s away this weekend with his new girl friend, would you like to come over to my place? We could practise some dancing together.” He blushed slightly and I remember thinking how sweet that was.
“Love to.” I'd said feeling butterflies in my stomach.
God, I couldn’t believe this was happening to me, Ruby Johnson, meeting a rich handsome American man out of the blue.
Saturday came and I told my parents I would be late and may stay at a friend’s for the evening but I’d phone them and let them know I was safe. I got all the make sure you do’s before stepping out the front door.
The house was like something from a glossy magazine or one of those fabulous places you see on the television. It was huge; breathtaking. The furniture must have cost a bomb but I was more interested in Jack.
“Here, let me take your coat, sit down make yourself comfortable.” He'd said taking my coat and gesturing towards a large cream covered sofa that could have probably accommodated half a dozen people with ease.
“Beautiful room,” I'd remarked, brushing my skirt to smooth over a crease as I'd sat down.
Want a drink? Wine or whatever is it you drink.” He'd walked towards a large oak cabinet and on opening the doors revealed a drinks cabinet.
“I don’t really drink alcohol but a tonic with ice would be nice.”
He'd smiled and said, “I don’t like the stuff much either; prefer a coffee myself.”
We talked with what seemed like forever then glancing at my watch I'd realised it was 11-30. “Oh I best make a move, can I call a taxi please?”
He'd looked disappointed. “Why don’t you stay tonight? There are four bedrooms in this house.”
He'd looked at me earnestly and I'd been unable to resist those eyes.
“I’m not sure, what if your dad comes back unexpectedly, won’t he be annoyed?”
“Hell no, I’m 24, old enough to have a friend stay over.”
“Well, okay, but I need to let me parents know where I am so they don’t worry.”
I'd telephoned them and then began to feel more relaxed.
We played some music and promised we would practise some dance routines in the morning. His arm went around my shoulders and we kissed passionately. His kiss was sweet and sent a sensation of need sweeping through me. I’d never felt so ready to take that journey and experience the pleasures of love.
“I know we’ve only just met Ruby but I’m sure I love you.”
His words took me by surprise and in that moment of time I'd realised I was in love too; crazy as that may sound considering we'd just met.
We became almost inseparable and six months later Jack said he thought it was about time we got our own place. Our parents strongly objected and argued we were far too young and we would regret it. We never regretted one moment of our life together.
We danced in the evenings perfected routines; entered contests and won many of them, with trophies galore standing proudly on show in a glass cabinet. I was now teaching dance and found this satisfying and profitable and this was what I wanted to do. Jack still had his dream of a career on stage. He worked in theatres doing menial jobs to help pay the bills. We were proud of our independence; even when Jack’s parents offered to help out with money, we always refused.
We married in New York three years after meeting and proved both sets of parents wrong; much to their delight.
Out of the blue one summer Jack got his first real break for a new musical called Let's Rock All Night. He was thrilled and I was so proud of him.
I went along to rehearsals and watched fascinated as bit by bit the show come together. His leading lady was an Irish girl called Bridget Kinahan. She had beautiful auburn hair with deep green eyes and legs that seemed to go on forever.
I remarked to Jack one night, “I’m getting very jealous of you two, are you sure you don’t fancy her?”
He'd looked at me in total shock, got hold of me by the shoulders and kissed me until I thought I was going to run out of breath. “That’s your answer. Yes, Bridget is very lovely but I don’t fancy her one bit. Come on, dance with me.” We danced late into the night. Jack wanted to practise the final scene because the show had its opening debut the following Friday.
He was so nervous on the Thursday evening; pacing to and fro across the lounge.
“Ruby, come on dance with me one final time before the show’s opening night.”
I obliged and soothed his worries. “I love you so.” He said caressing my hair.
“You’ll always be my darling, Jack.” I answered cuddling into his chest. This was one of those moments I never wanted to end.
The show was a smash hit with the audience giving a standing ovation and Jack blew me a kiss, his face full of excitement. Then suddenly he crumbled to the floor, the clapping stopped, I ran on to the stage. He was dead. I cradled his head in my arms until the ambulance came and whispered to him we would dance again one day.
It was on August 15 1962; 40 years ago, that my Jack died aged 32 of a heart attackt, I was 29. I never married again. Ever since, on the eve of the anniversary of his death I listen to the music we danced to and pretend he is here with me; only this year I feel he is. Then I hear his voice as if in the distant, “Ruby, come on, dance with me.” I get up from the chair, Jack takes my hand, “I told you,” I say smiling up into those gorgeous eyes, “I promised we would dance again one day, didn’t I?”
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