This is a rant I have to get out of my system. Yesterday ,for possibly the first time in my life, I spoke before considering the consequences. It was the final straw in a situation that I had watched occurring over a period of months at my dancing class and increasingly the situation sent me home seething with anger. I knew what I should do. I should have removed myself from the situation but still I went. Not as frequently as I once did but still I went.
The situation – there are many of us that go to the class as single women, by that I mean without a partner with whom to dance. Usually there are enough men to leave only one or two without a partner and every so often the teacher moves everyone around so everyone gets a turn. That is, all except one person who is consistently left without a man to dance with dance after dance after dance. I feel this acutely on her behalf. I also know that it upsets her. Numerous times I have said to the dance teacher “Jade has not had a partner for a long time.” Always he pointedly ignores me. This despite Jade paying her money the same as the rest of us. The dance teacher, who should be fair, simply will not dance with her.
Yesterday, Jade did not have a partner during the first dance at all. One of the men, noticing this, told her that he would dance the second dance with her. They walked onto the dance floor and the teacher’s assistant, Helga, immediately said that Ross was to dance with someone else. Jade protested quietly. Helga retorted by yelling that it is not all about her and she is a selfish …… and so it went on. It was Helga’s screaming on the middle of the dance floor in full public view that caught my attention. It upset and I guess it also made me angry. At the time I said and did nothing but smarted away.
The male dance teacher asked me what I was looking so miserable about. I told him that I had been very upset by what had happened earlier and I was going to say something at afternoon tea. My plan at this point was to talk to everyone and say that we are all in the same boat and could we all work together to ensure that every girl got a fair go at having a partner, for that I believed was the root of the problem. This would not have happened had Jade been given a fair go.
I happened to sit out (as I didn’t have a partner) and Helga sat beside me. In private I decided to tell her how upset I was at her behaviour. She was not prepared to listen instead blaming Jade for being nasty to her. Our words became more heated as I pointed out that I watched week after week as Jade was left out. She was angry and I, still rational at this point was just upset. I decided to walk outside and leave it only to hear to my retreating back “Now look Jade. You’ve upset Irene.”
At afternoon tea Jade approached me. She was crying and asked if she could speak to me in private. We were in a middle of a conversation when Helga appeared and literally flew at both of us. It is the nearest to a fist fight I have ever been and now I was angry as I held her flailing arms in a strong lock. I won’t repeat the conversation – it was not pretty from Helga’s side and possibly not from mine either. Jade left the room in tears saying to her I don’t know what you have against me. I went out and said to her come on I’ll take you home we don’t have to take this.” I had a word to the male dance teacher before leaving (in private) and told him what I thought of his bad behaviour in not ensuring all his students were treated equally and that I wouldn’t be back. I didn’t need to be subjected to this kind of nastiness.
Unfortunately I had to go back in to collect my bag and Helga let forth another barrage of abuse. This time I reacted and I wish I hadn’t. Not for myself but for Jade. Jade loved coming dancing. Without her own car, this class was one that she could reach by public transport. She was upset by her treatment but her love of dance kept her coming. Now I have wrecked that for her. By seeing a wrong and stepping in I have created a situation that Helga will not forget. Jade will be treated even worse in the future if she were to go and if she had been that worried about the way she was being treated she could have taken up her cause herself.
I know what I should have done. I could have dealt with the situation very differently by leaving earlier and then in the cool light of day just spoken to the male dance teacher (the principal) and said my piece. I would still not attend but at least I would not have adversely affected someone else’s life.
This kind of incident makes me realise how easily peace can be broken. How lines can be drawn in the sand that neither side can retreat from without losing face and negotiations for peace become incredibly difficult to commence. Take a breath and leave and return when tempers are no longer flaring, when the upset has lessened. When you are again thinking rationally. If we can’t do it as individuals how can we expect nations to do it. It has to start from the self. I know that, I just wish I had done it.