O.K., I did it for love.

You talk to  people who’ve known me over the years and they’d tell you that the last place they’d expect to see me is surrounded by people in cowboy hats and boots. My venues have always been where the music is very potent rock ‘n roll, the conversations are defensively loud and the  bartenders set your drink on the bar without having to be reminded of your preferences. I don’t even listen to country music for pleasure. Couple of tunes that celebrate favorite barstools, life in 18-wheelers and patriotism as a cultural necessity and I’ve had enough.

But I did get into dancing some years ago where you go counter-clockwise around the floor and stayed with it, thanks to social connections and an especially warm crowd. Yet even then the attraction was not the music or the dancing per se, it was a couple dozen friends who always gathered at a small saloon in Chatsworth on the weekends. Notwithstanding, I picked up the steps to the country and western two-step, which, by the way, works with almost any kind of music, particularly if you’re prone to hangin’ on, as they say, to the gal.

Ten years after setting foot in the Palace — the grandaddy misnomer of them all — it all paid off big. In my first conversation with Kris, she said she had a fondness for all the above, along with guys who could make their way around the floor with some dispatch. If you knew Kris, you’d understand why I immediately raised  my hand and said, “Pick me! Pick me!” So these days it’s off to a shit-kicking country bar in San Dimas that could easily swallow up the old Palace, and features a parking lot that is fully paved, as well.

I would never say that I’ve turned my back on the music that we Boomers claim — rightly so, I think — to have invented. Mick will always be Mick, likewise with Sting and Bono. Still, there’s something genuinely disturbing at seeing people in their ’60s — and later — joining the kids on a packed dance floor, trying to affect moves that they simply cannot pull off…anymore.

Country dancing, by contrast, doesn’t seem to be confined to any age or skill group. It’s just quick-quick, slow-slow and you’re in motion.  I can’t say that Kris and I have reached instructor level yet; that’s a long way off. We just try to keep out of other people’s way and stay on the beat.

And no hats. Boots, yes, and jeans, but that’s where we draw the line. The way we see it, we could walk right out of the country bar and directly into the nearest good ol’ rock ‘n roll joint any time the urge hit us — or at least hit me.

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