Published 7:49 pm Monday, December 17, 2018
In the sixth grade many of us were fortunate enough to be able to take Ballroom dance lessons. At first, I opposed it, but when my Dad told me that I had to, it left me no other choice. Little did I know the importance these dance lessons would become in the future, thanks to Marie Wallace?
Marie had just started teaching dance lessons in Washington at the VFW Hut on Highway 17 (now Com Cast Bank). She had been teaching in Greenville for years and other surrounding communities. She was an instant hit with her students in Washington along with her able assistant, Barbara Stocks.
Thursday nights at Marie’s studio was always fun!! It was like a mini-party and we could dance with anyone in our class. If you had trouble with a dance step, Marie was always there to be of help. Dancing with her was always good because she was so graceful and could move on her feet like she was floating on air. She made the hardest step seem easy!
We were taught so much more than just ballroom dancing. Marie taught us proper dance and date etiquette. This was something we had we had not been exposed to yet. She and Barbara arranged for us to have a Christmas party and a spring formal for us to use these lessons. We could ask anyone in our dance class to these dances as our date. For all of us it was our first date and from wearing a suit to having a corsage was all planned by Marie. The hardest of this experience was having to ride in the backseat while our Parents drove. The high light of the dance was the Grande March and parents were allowed to visit and watch as we danced through the Grande March!! We had practiced this many times, so we were prepared.
Marie had a television show on Saturday afternoon called Dansarama. The highlight of each week was to be asked by Marie to be on her show with other students. We would all dance and after the show we would go to Hardee’s in Greenville to get a burger and French fries. At that time that was the only Hardee’s in our area.
After our spring dance Marie always had a dance recital in the auditorium at the High School. This was when we got to show off what we had learned in front of our parents and relatives. It was a mixture of ballroom, tap and ballet performed by the many students Marie had taught in Washington. There were times that dancers from other communities were invited and we all made friends. Dr. Jim Taylor and Francis Rowlette from Bethel became two of my closest.
At first, I did not want to take dance lessons but I took for three years. They helped me so that whatever music is playing, Tracey and I feel comfortable dancing to it. From the Fox Trot to the Tango, Marie taught us all the steps. More importantly she taught us proper etiquette and that is something not taught enough today. We were lucky Marie Wallace entered our lives as youngsters and many of her lessons are still practiced today. Thanks Marie!!
The best of times with the best of friends and in the best of places, Washington, NC!
PS: I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas and a safe Holiday!