The Tap Group

The Beginners' Tap Class: our teacher, Andrew Pronger, is the only one not dressed like a fake Hungarian minstrel.

As we get older, we get better at avoiding public humiliation. In fact, keeping our dignity becomes quite important, especially as the basis for our dignity gradually gets less and less.

So I kept asking myself "Why on earth did I agree to join in the tap performance in our dance school's annual concert?" For someone with a poor sense of rhythm, an appalling memory for sequences, and practically no tap experience, it promised to be the worst public humiliation ever.

Lecturing to hundreds of bored medical students in the last class on Friday afternoons, addressing hundreds of scientists at scientific meetings, going on TV to talk about science, and (in my radical days) presenting unpopular policies to an antagonistic audience at trade union meetings - all water off a duck's back.

But being in tap shoes, and being expected to dance in front of an audience of mums and dads who are there to see how their little loved ones are doing, promised to be another matter indeed. None of this was helped by being away for many weeks before the concert, and by coming down with a dose of flu beforehand as well.

But I'm glad I stuck at it. As was pointed out, the audience of adoring mums and dads want a little light relief from admiring their offspring. They enjoy seeing some adults who are game enough to get up on the stage in front of them. They are not there to see wonderful dancing (though they may get that from the kids). In fact I had a whale of a time. Hopeless at tap, I was determined to enjoy myself, and hammed it up madly through the mistakes. The loud applause showed that we weren't received too badly after all.

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