I hope you enjoyed yesterday’s episode of Renee and Frei and that you’re in the mood for more daft accents and some dodgy dancing with Queer Tango!
(as always, please excuse bloopers and typos.)
Episode 27: In The Groove
Distractions tended to cause even the most consummate performer to stumble sometimes or to be less than their usual elite self. Relationship problems, moving house, having babies, money issues were all examples of challenges to one’s focus. However, Paulette was the one moving house and having a baby and apart from the organic food versus shop brand debate in the Lanie/Miriam household, there wasn’t much relationship bother… yet, her class were quite frankly, bumbling idiots in rehearsal with the finesse of a drunken moth.
‘Stop.’ Paulette heard her strained, unhinged tone and gripped her plimsole to calm herself. ‘Just stop.’
The class, scattered about to do their usual group scenes, turned with wide eyes.
‘Plimsole, that mood isn’t really good for the baby,’ Andy whispered while hiding behind Stan. ‘You like calm… calm is good.’
Paulette held his gaze in a way she knew echoed her mother when she was glowering at her father… and he usually found refuge in the garden shed.
‘You have a lot of presence with that look,’ Andy whimpered as Stan tried to place himself behind Gaynor. ‘You’re very beautiful.’
Paulette continued the ‘Plimsole Glare’ and scrunched her shoe in her hand. They were adaptable shoes, plimsoles, you could use them as stress balls, beat people with them, threaten others, they looked presentable upon the toe and yes, were helpful to dance in. Her class were not adaptable, caused stress, she couldn’t beat them up really, they looked terrible, they moved worse than the stuttering excuse for a car she’d once bought off Ricky and, their dancing was awful, they didn’t shut up and if she heard one more comment about Trevor she was going to find him and beat him.
‘Calm,’ Andy said and breathed in and out lifting himself up and down. ‘Calm.’
Paulette got up. ‘I plan all week for these sessions. I wrote a whole show, painstakingly ensuring that you all got fair parts, showing off your… skills…’ She headed to the tea table where her mother was watching, kettle bubbling away. ‘I’m doing it instead of touring the country in a new show. I’m doing it so we get a community bus and Andy isn’t worried about me running off with a director… I’m doing it because that’s what you pay me for.’
Lanie cleared her throat. ‘Actually, you’ve forgotten to take money for two weeks.’
‘She has,’ Glynnis said then turned to Mary-Lou. ‘I did ask to set up a direct debit.’
Paulette held up her hand. ‘I’ve been dancing since I was three years old, three… countless hours, pain… heartbreak… and you’re reducing me to watching a mother’s meeting!’
Andy held Gaynor’s hand. ‘You were into Marmite, right?’
Gaynor nodded as she swished Liza around. ‘I tried her with Marmite earlier, she growled.’ She hunched. ‘Like a real growl.’
‘We appreciate you,’ Mary-Lou said with a sweet tone, gentle tone, a ‘please calm down’ tone. ‘Honey, you’re awesome. We just love your class. Hedges’ and I got all the way through our routine the other day.’
‘We did,’ Hedges said with an emphatic nod. ‘I didn’t even get my hair up her nose.’
‘George and I got through the waltz without him touching his elbow pads once,’ Diane said and kissed George on the cheek. ‘We waltzed every night on our honeymoon.’
‘You’re allowed, you’re married,’ Miriam said with a wink then turned to Lanie. ‘We rhumba all the time.’
Lanie blushed. ‘We’re practicing.’
‘Liza is fantastic at jiving,’ Gaynor said and flicked Liza’s baby hands around until she giggled. ‘Stan… he managed it in heels the other day.’
Stan nodded to Gaynor. ‘I did.’ Then he nodded to Andy who patted him on the back. ‘I even kept them on during a leg flick.’
‘Ooh.’ Andy clapped and flapped his hands around. ‘I thought you’d been practicing with that walk.’
Stan waved him off and flicked back his wig hair.
‘We even did it in the bar the other day,’ Tammy said with a grin and squeezed Tracy by the shoulder. ‘Should have heard the cheer.’
‘I got some comments, I did,’ Tracy said with a snigger. ‘Ricky told me he was gonna keep an eye on us.’
Janis cleared her throat and the class and Paulette looked at her. She cleared her throat again and Ceri smiled up at her.
‘Go on.’ Ceri rubbed her arm.
Janis cleared her throat a third time. ‘I did the tango… with Ceri and that… when we were in Wales… they had a tango night competition.’
‘They have regular ones.’ Ceri said with a grin and beamed up at Janis.
‘We won.’ Janis said with a shocked smile. ‘Outright.’
Ceri pulled out her phone and showed it around then crept toward Paulette. ‘We really did win. They said we must have a wonderful teacher.’
Paulette glanced at the screen Ceri waved around feet away. They had won and Janis had actually taken her tango hat on honeymoon.
‘We did the Charleston as our encore.’ Janis smiled in the most chuffed way possible. ‘They wanted to hire us.’
‘They did,’ Ceri said then nodded to Gaynor, Diane and Andy who were nodding back with delight. ‘They said we looked like professionals,’ she said to Miriam and Lanie who whooped in response. ‘We’re not…’ She looked at Paulette and hunched. ‘But we had so much fun.’
Andy held up his hand. ‘Saucy and I went for it during the flower arranging workshop.’ He looked around and pursed his lips with a raised eyebrow. ‘I won’t lie, there were some flustered ladies during tea break.’
‘I’ve never seen Mrs Bobbins so pink,’ Glynnis said with a chuckle. ‘She nearly matched her roses.’
‘I incorporated a little dance into my delivery the other day and Miss Smith was very impressed,’ Hedges said with a beaming grin. ‘She told me that if Mr Hedges does a Trevor she’d take me in.’
Mary-Lou snorted. ‘You’re making those kinda friends, huh?’
‘Barney quite liked our version of the quickstep during the board meeting,’ Lanie said with a smirk. ‘He told me he’d need to watch you didn’t mistake me for him in lycra.’
Miriam and Mary-Lou snorted.
‘Honey, you don’t ever wear pink.’ Mary-Lou turned to Paulette. ‘So, we’re dancing.’
Agnes peered over her glasses with a smile. ‘I can confirm this and provide footage.’
Paulette put her hands on her hips. ‘Then why don’t you dance in class?’
‘We’re too busy catching up,’ Andy said with a shrug. ‘It’s hard to talk when you’re concentrating.’
Paulette stared up at the ceiling that Janis had made a wonderful job of. She’d even installed stage lights for some reason and Paulette was sure there was also a safety curtain. Odd addition to a garden centre but it was Bumblethorpe.
‘Maybe you should show Paulette, dear?’ Agnes said like she understood her daughter’s temper well. ‘Might help her know you’re listening.’
Andy nodded. ‘We can do that.’ He flexed his biceps then straightened up. ‘Stan, Gaynor and Liza… Jive to it over there.’ He clapped at George who stumbled on his way to get the CD player. ‘Hit it.’
George did just that and the batteries kicked in groaning out cheesy pop music.
Stan, Gaynor and Liza jived around with ease, shaking and twisting and giggling as they did so. Paulette didn’t have the heart to tell them they weren’t meant to be in a scene together because Stan was meant to be trying to take over the business because they looked cute. They looked completely focused on bopping around to make Liza laugh.
The class clapped as they snapped into a cheesy pose.
‘George, you’re up,’ Andy said as the music slowed.
George twinkle-toed his way over to Diane and stumbled into a bow before gliding her around the floor as she stepped off on the wrong foot and he tripped now and again but they made a decent effort, loved up smiles on their faces and joy in their eyes. She didn’t have the heart to tell them that it wasn’t anywhere near like the routine she’d given them and they’d read the dance sheet wrong and had sections in the wrong places but… George only bounced off the mat once so it was a vast improvement.
The class clapped and Janis checked over the safety mat.
‘Tammy, Tracy… go!’ Andy flipped the track and a crazy nineties dance tune thudded out.
Tracy and Tammy charged like thugs across the floor in tango hold, Welsh hat and shawl. Tracy flung Tammy around with authority and slightly like she was threating her and Tammy snapped her leg around like she was going to boot Tracy one. It was intense, violent but, you know, it actually looked like a tango. Paulette took a seat in shock. It was very good tango.
The class clapped as Tracy flopped Tammy over her arm.
‘Janis… get us going, girl,’ Andy clicked his fingers.
Janis threw the safety mat to the side and launched into a top class Charleston as the music bounced through Paulette’s chest. Ceri flung her dusters and off they went through the daftest, funniest routine. They’d followed Paulette’s dance plan to the letter but had made it their own in way that she felt her throat clog. They really did look like professionals.
Janis threw Ceri into a spin then caught her as if she was a rag doll and the class clapped and giggled as Liza gurgled with delight.
‘Sway her, Hedges,’ Andy changed the track to a jazzy number and Hedges eased into a showpiece, quick step/foxtrot come waltz using Mary-Lou’s snapback like a top hat and Janis’ level measure as a cane. Mary Lou twinkle-stepped her way around like a silver screen diva and they twirled and acted out Hedges reuniting with Mary-Lou in the show to such a level that Paulette lowered her plimsole, stunned. They really did look like they were those kinda friends. No wonder Miss Smith was so delighted with Hedges.
The class clapped and Tammy winked as Hedges held up her snapback in celebration.
‘Looks like Barney needs to be keeping an eye on your lycra,’ Tracy said with a snigger. ‘Pink or not, she does poetry.’
Mary-Lou lifted Hedges up and hugged her. ‘Well done, honey.’
‘Miriam… bring it down a gear,’ Andy said then switch to a sultry number.
Lanie tapped her helmet and eased into it, swishing Miriam around with ease, luring her in then subduing her through perfectly timed steps, elite throws and then down into the upside-down hold without a peep about organic onions.
Paulette fanned her eyes to try and hide the tears starting to brim. They didn’t just look professional, they looked sublime.
Lanie slid Miriam down into her arms and the class clapped and fanned themselves. Ceri smirked up at Janis who’d taken to adjusting the safety mat again.
‘They’re allowed to,’ she said to Janis. ‘They’re cycling together.’
Miriam chuckled. ‘And wearing lycra.’
Lanie blushed. ‘You’ll make me faint again.’
Andy changed the track then dragged Glynnis onto the floor. ‘Saucy, let’s give her a show.’ He wiggled his hips, and Glynnis sashayed and they twirled and spun and salsa’d until Paulette was bopping her plimsole in time to the daft pop music. Andy threw Glynnis up and around him, spun her and slinked his hips until Paulette fanned herself. Then he swished her and flopped her onto his arm with a dashing smile.
The class cheered and clapped each other and hugged each other. Agnes flipped the track then grabbed Andy and they foxtrotted around the floor with a flawless grace as Paulette stared in shock.
‘Mum?’ Paulette mumbled.
‘You get your talents from me dear, your father has no coordination.’ Agnes twirled with every elegance of a legendary Pink Plimsole, foxtrotting her way around the police and putting her opponents into a spin. Then Andy bowed low and pecked her on the hand to a large class cheer.
Paulette fanned herself with her plimsole. Tears were cheeky, they snuck up on you and then made your mascara run in the most inconvenient fashion.
The class all turned to her and Andy stood there like a hopeful kid waiting for someone to appraise their hard work.
Paulette got up, put her plimsole down and walked to the middle of the floor. ‘You just change things around as you please, switch partners, add in parts I didn’t write and then twirl around like you own the place…’ She smiled, tears bursting free. ‘I’ve never seen anything so wonderfully… Bumblethorpe.’
‘Is she happy about it?’ Stan asked from behind Gaynor.
Andy chewed on his lip. ‘I… dunno.’
Paulette grabbed Janis and hugged her, then Ceri, then Diane and George in a huddle, then Stan, Gaynor and Liza, then Lanie and Miriam, then Mary-Lou and Hedges, Tammy and Tracy, Glynnis, her mother, then turned to Andy.
‘It’s my fault,’ Andy mumbled then shrugged. ‘I was trying to help out… Liza prefers the jive better and Tracy gives me shivers when she tangos.’
Tracy bowed and pinched Tammy’s backside.
‘Oi,’ Tammy pinched hers back. ‘Cheeky.’
‘Hedges was struggling to get into role,’ Andy said, chewing on his lip. ‘And we all so wanted to impress you so we kept to your idea but I changed it to the one you really wanted but we’re sure we’d cope with…’ He shrugged, his long eyelashes fluttering. ‘And you always said you wanted to see Agnes dance.’
Paulette stared at him, tears spreading mascara down her cheeks.
‘And Saucy and I… we got carried away… I loved watching the recording of you salsa-ing when you won the ballroom competition.’ He lowered his chin to his chest. ‘You are so beautiful when you dance.’
Paulette looked at her class who shrugged and smiled and nodded back then waddled over to Andy—her bump was getting heavy—and lifted his chin. ‘When did I say I wanted Tracy to tango?’
‘We were in the Bee, on our second official date. You were nervous and you’d mistakenly asked for soda water instead of tonic. Your dress was that brilliant orange number which always shows off your waist to perfection and your heels matched… they always match…’ Andy fanned himself, some dazed happiness in his eyes. ‘I was trying to tell you that I really liked you… really did… and that I wasn’t just taking you out because Agnes asked… and you were talking about how nice it would be to put on a show.’ He motioned to Tracy. ‘You said about Tracy and Hedges… and well… you talked a lot.’
‘I was nervous.’ Paulette sniffed and Ceri handed her a tissue. ‘I didn’t think you were actually listening.’
‘Of course I listen,’ Andy said and pursed his lips, put his hands on his hips and pulled his Ruby-Pout. ‘You told me all about your career. I was thrilled just to visualise all the adventures you’d been on, and how dedicated you’d been.’ He tutted. ‘I knew I loved you but I didn’t know how much I really liked you too until that point.’ He sighed. ‘Smouldering passion is one thing but being able to soak you in makes it even better.’
Paulette’s bump kicked and she stared down at it.
‘I saw that,’ Mary-Lou said with a chuckle. ‘Baby is agreeing.’
‘Maybe you don’t get that,’ Andy mumbled then shoved his hands in his pockets. Thumbs out to the side.
‘You cover a roof with decking, then you prepare the surface, add bitumen on but it needs the right composition to get a good texture before laying down the covering. There’s hidden head nails, roofing nails and I’m pretty sure I know how to replace a tile on a gabled roof.’ Paulette raised her eyebrows. ‘And don’t get me started on when someone doesn’t put the drip batten on correctly.’
Andy clutched his chest. ‘I feel offended by a wonky drip batten, you know this.’
‘Yes, it causes all sorts of damp.’ Paulette nodded then slid her arms around him and sideways hugged him. ‘Which you compare to not having waterproof mascara on at a wedding.’
‘Exactly, useless.’ Andy nestled in then peered at her. ‘Are you just getting closer to get a better shot?’
Paulette chuckled. ‘I’m getting closer to tell you the tea is ready.’
The kettle whistled and the class cheered even louder and forgot them and dived on the biscuits.
‘I was trying to help,’ Andy mumbled as she pulled him closer. ‘I wanted to make you smile.’
Paulette reached out and flicked the CD player to a bouncy song then pulled him into hold. ‘Then you’ll know I’m the best at the salsa, Ruby.’
Andy swivelled his hips. ‘I know this, Plimsole, I’ve seen the tapes.’
‘But they haven’t seen me move,’ Paulette flicked him around the floor with ease, swivelling—gently—her bump which thumped back and spun Andy into a daze as the class cheered, clapped and chomped on biscuits with their tea.
Paulette flexed her dancing skills—around her bump—making Andy sashay and shimmy about while giggling. Yes, it was distracting her class from rehearsal but sometimes a teacher had to lead the way to get her students in the groove.