Dancing with the local stars

April E. Clark
April in Glenwood
April Clark
Staff Photo |

I’ve always thought I was a pretty decent dancer. A quick glance at the dance floor at a wedding reception around midnight and I know I’m not alone.

I have the Running Man down to a science.

I admit, I often think I’m better at stuff than I really am. Take the outdoor game of horseshoes, for example. I’ve been known to brag on my throwing skills, but when it comes to game time, I choke like the 2003 Chicago Cubs. I nearly take out people standing in a 12-foot radius of the pits if I’m not careful. If I do get a ringer — or even a leaner — it’s based purely on luck.

And beer.

That also goes the same with my golf game. I’m an alright player, but my short game needs some serious work. I usually go big with my drive, but reality quickly sets in as I hack my way to the hole. Never mind the obscenities or my temptation to wrap my club around a tree.

I don’t recommend this approach to gaming on a first date.

Unlike the golf course, one place I’ve always felt confident is the dance floor. I sometimes wonder what kind of single nightlife I would have enjoyed as a disco dancer in the ’70s. All the sequins and tube tops make my head spin like Stephanie in “Saturday Night Fever.” I certainly know I would have loved the nightlife.

And liked to boogie.

Ask any of my friends, especially those around in college, and they will agree I had no problem being the first on the dance floor. I was all about the Electric Slide, Ace of Base and songs like “Whoomp! (There it is)” by Tag Team and “Ditty” by Paperboy.

Keeping it awkward since 1993.

By no means am I saying I was the best one out there on the dance floor. But I always had a good time, and I exerted some effort. Dancing just made me feel better. Especially when the penny beers kicked in — a dollar could really get me far back then. I’m sure I was a hip-shaking force to be reckoned with. Luckily those were pre-cell phone and Facebook days.

How did we survive back then?

To this day, if I see an empty dance floor while a band or DJ plays, one of my first instincts is to jump out there and get the dance party started. This typically entails me dragging an unwilling partner to the parquet floor. Unless that partner is my best friend Megan, or a ham of a 3-year-old. They are the best dance partners because they have no fear.

And when I say “they,” I mean both Megan and the toddlers.

It’s been a while since I’ve practiced my signature moves at a wedding or dedicated an entire evening just for dance-offs. But lately I’ve had a different type of dance experience that has me thinking I might need to go back to class.

And I don’t mean college.

I’m a (dancing) member of the Viva La Woman! Burlesque troupe in Carbondale. I like to think I’m more of the comic relief. Especially when it comes to my tap dancing. I’m definitely no Ginger Rogers.

Think more like Lucy in tap shoes.

Most of the reason I love a stage is because that’s where I can best make people laugh. I’m also not bad at parties and on cruise ships. But our show is more than just bawdy comedy. Burlesque is an avenue for drama and dance that wows the audience with talent and theatrics.

I’m working on that talent part.

This aspect of the show requires me to dance, seriously. Like seriously dance. I’m learning moves I didn’t think I could ever do outside of the Running Man. Better yet, I’m learning to sing while dancing, which is a lot more difficult than it sounds. That probably wouldn’t be a problem if I were actually Ginger Rogers.

Or at least her granddaughter.

Luckily I’m surrounded by amazingly talented women who know how to sing, dance, and look great in a corset. I never thought I had the attention span to learn the dance routines I have. But with the help of our fearless director, Ananda Banc, I am taking my dancing experience up a notch. I can only hope all those years being the first one on the dance floor will help in the long run.

At least I know I can get the party started.

— April E. Clark invites all the party people to come out to the Viva La Woman! Burlesque show at PAC3 Friday and Saturday so as to prove she can really dance. And sing. She can be reached at

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