Fontana Clogging Jamboree; Fontana Village, North Carolina.
Here I am in the September Smokies. The leaves are just starting to get their affairs in order and update their wills because time is short. To get here from there, you have to drive the Tail Of The Dragon, 11 miles of barf even for the driver. Occasionally you might think, ‘Hey, this is pretty!’ but nausea is a narcissist, and demands fealty. It can be deposited at the gate though and reclaimed at departure. So that’s good.
The dancers in the main hall fill the long room. Its wood floor is the instrument, and a thousand buck-tapped shoes play it in powerful stomping rhythm. The music guides, but the power is in the feet and taps united. And, oh, the variety of feet!
Eight year olds line the front row. Stick-skinny, knowing every step, they dance for hours.
Men who I would erroneously have pegged as football players or at least stadium rats Cotton-Eyed Joe with the best of them. One has on a military t-shirt and I think it’s legit.
A lean twenty-something with broody dark hair and glasses, looking like a blogger or start-up non-profit recycler makes every move look liquid and fantastic. Appropriately, his t- shirt says simply, ‘Clog.’ He, too, dances for hours.
Women, women, women of all shapes and sizes, all! They know the steps to three hours of ‘fun dance’ in the evening session – not to be confused with six hours of instruction dance all day. Each new song brings a whoop and the new dance starts. They are all lovely whatever their shape or size because the body moving happily is lovely.
A four-year-old boy joins his dad for the men’s dance. He has his own little six inch long tapped shoes and he listens and follows the caller’s instructions. And so I decide that humanity, for all its frailties, will at least survive the lifespan of that child.
And then, best of all, the seniors. There are many! My favorite lady is wearing yellow and her ankles and feet move neatly, adding their nuance to the bigger loud stomping song. Her stamina is far, far deeper than mine. My favorite man has American flag shoes whose soles light up as he dances a little stiffly and upright but following all the mental moves perfectly. He knows the steps.