Ross Murray's Border Report
Ross Murray
is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at
Posted 04.10.18
Stanstead, Quebec


How to fight inertia, sweatpants, and go out dancing

STANSTEAD, QUEBEC | My getting ready to go out face. Tweety is my wingman.

1. Are you already in sweatpants? Did you take your bra off? It's too late. You will not go dancing. Inertia has won. Start again.

1a. Have a spouse/partner who also is thinking about going out dancing. "Do you want to go?" Deb asked me.

"It's up to you," I replied. "Do you want to go?"

"I asked you first."

"I'll go if you want to go."

"That's not answering the question."

"Honestly, the last thing I want to do is go. I just want to get into my sweatpants. But I feel like we should go."

2. Come up with a reason to go out dancing that is not about going out dancing. "Why should we go?" Deb asked.

"Because it's for a good cause," I moaned. In this case, it was a country dance to raise money for the fire department, the cause being, I don't know, nozzle training or something.

"Plus," I continued, "I feel like if we stay home, we're letting life pass us by." I put my head down on the table.

3. Call a friend. Deb called a friend who had said she might be going with her beau.

"They'll pick us up at 8:15ish," Deb said. "There: we're committed."

4. Get dressed - - but not in sweatpants!

Your good clothes are probably stored very near your sweatpants, so be careful here. In fact, if your clothes are stacked in a sort of reverse chronological order, you might need to dig all the way down to the 2014 stratum, which was the last time you mustered enough gumption to go out dancing. Me, I exchanged my usual attire of blue denim, T-shirt and pullover for brown denim, T-shirt and cardigan. With style like this, who wouldn't want to go out dancing! Wait: me.

5. Get picked up - - It was 8:15ish.

6. And go to the dance!

"Excuse me," our friend asked a man in the near-empty parking lot. ("I think he's with the band," I said.) "What time does the dance start?"

"Nine o'clock," he replied.

7. Go back home!

Preferably not your own home, because home (I think at this point it goes without saying) is where the sweatpants are. Home is where bras get unlatched, and not in a fun way.

We went to our friend's house for a drink and conversations that veered, for obvious reasons, around the topic of bedtimes and wondering who on earth goes out for the evening at 9 o'clock?

But this type of talk will make you feel old, so when someone half-jokingly suggests staying in at this point, you better believe you're going dancing, dammit, because you are not a has-been! You are not an old fart, even as you make that groaning sound when you lean over to put your boots back on.

8. Go to the dance again!

It turns out all kinds of people start their evening at 9 o'clock. At 9:30ish, the hall was already bustling, the band was playing and the dance floor was full. We walked in, spotted some friends and immediately joined them at their table. This is dangerous, because...

9. To go out dancing, you actually have to dance.

Inertia is crafty and will hit you where you live, or more precisely, where you sit. Add a table and a drink and you're basically back in your kitchen. Plus, there's the intimidation factor - - and I don't mean people were dressed better than me; I had the best-looking cardigan in the place. I had the only cardigan in the place. v "These people can actually dance," I said to Deb. Sure enough, couples were whirling and two-stepping counter-clockwise around the floor - - men dancing with women, mothers dancing with sons, girls dancing with boys, women dancing with women. No men dancing with men, obviously. (Country music.) It looked fun. It looked dangerous. One wrong step and you've got yourself a 50-cowboy pileup.

Deb and I danced to a couple of straight-up rock numbers, where I could move like the middle-aged white man I am, but there was no way I was getting pulled into that country-dancing maelstrom. Until...

"Come on," Deb said. "We can do it." We clumsily figured out how to hold each other and negotiated who would be dancing backwards. Then we worked our way into the rotation. The trick is to stay near the hub where there's less circular movement, though the gravitational pull is stronger. I don't think we were actually doing the two-step. More like a 1.6-step. But we were out dancing, and it was past midnight! We were also concentrating so hard that I didn't think more than once or twice about sweatpants.

10. Congratulations! You beat inertia and went out dancing!

And repeat. Every four years.