When I think Netherfield, I immediately think, balls! And dancing! (Obviously, I’m not the only one.) One of my favourite things about Austen stories are the balls, especially seeing them played out on the movie screen. There’s not a Pride & Prejudice lover out there who can’t picture Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy verbally sparring while dancing at the Netherfield Ball. I especially love in the 2005 version where the other dancers disappear and it’s just the two of them as if no one else is in the room, showing how focused they are on each other, the intensity of their feelings.
My favorite ball scene though, has to be from Becoming Jane, when poor Jane has to dance with Wisley (*yawn*), then suddenly Tom Lefroy is there. Her breath catches. He smiles at her, and she tries so hard not to show how excited she is that he’s there. They stare at each other, they touch, they dance. Oh the sexual tension! *dies*
Can you tell I love a dance scene? I’ve put some form of dancing in all of my books, because to me there’s nothing more romantic, more intimate, more sexy without being *ahem* sex, than dancing.
Unfortunately, in Persuasion, Anne doesn’t get to dance with Frederick (correct me if I’m wrong- maybe they do and I’ve forgotten? Not counting the waltz scene at the end of the 2007 movie). But I HAD TO HAVE dancing when I wrote SWAY, my modern Persuasion retelling, especially when there was such a huge musical influence throughout the book.
In one scene, my main character Ava (Anne), goes out to a club with Eric, Lacey, Mari, and Charlie (Captain Wentworth, Louisa Musgrove, Mary Musgrove, and Charles Musgrove). She’s the odd one out, since Mari and Charlie are married, and Lacey and Eric have just gotten together. At first, Ava just sits there watching Eric and Lacey getting close on the dance floor, and feeling a bit sorry for herself. Then she decides to get out there and dance. She does the cliche (but effective) “dance like no one is watching,” except someone is. While the reader assumes Eric is stealing glances (of course he is), another man has noticed her: Gage. This is where they meet, and they soon begin dating.
Another scene features Ava and Gage at a modern-day ball, a charity function called The Heavenly Hearts Ball. Ava has fun with Gage, but is overtaken during a slow dance by a memory of Eric.
There are other dance scenes in SWAY, but my favorite is just a moment, a short dance between Ava and Eric at a party near the end of the book. Here’s a look:
Eric tucked the strand of hair behind my ear, and then his hand dropped to my shoulder, sliding down my arm until he grasped my hand in his. He pressed his fingers into my back, drawing me even closer. I snaked one arm around his neck while he rested our clasped hands against his chest. Our bodies moved together, resuming a dance that had broken off so long ago.
“Great theme,” Eric said, his voice husky.
“Beth’s idea. You fit right in.”
His lips quirked. “It’s my time.”
We swayed, oblivious to everything, as if we’d really gone back to the time of diamonds and cigarettes and music that tugged at the soul. My fingers brushed the skin above his suit collar, toyed with the hair at the back of his neck. Our legs pressed into each other’s as we danced ever closer.
“Being near you is like a forest fire,” Eric said. “Completely out of control.” I stared at him wide-eyed. “It’s from the movie. Brad says it to Jan.”
“Oh.” I deflated a little. “Good line.”
He studied my face. He opened his mouth to say something, then stopped, his eyes trained over my shoulder into the hallway behind. We stopped moving. The music continued but our dance was over.
It’s not long. Just a taste. A moment of dancing, but a moment that conveys so many thoughts and emotions. To me, it’s the pain of their past and a hope for their future in just a few seconds of slow dancing. To me, dancing is magical. And if I can’t go to a modern day ball, you can bet I’m going to write about them!
What’s your favourite Austen ball or dance scene?