Shuffle ball-change, clap!

Tap, tap, tap, shuffle ball change, shuffle ball change, tap, tap, tap, shuffle ball change, stamp!

Boo’s had her first tap exam last week. As a result we’d had weeks and weeks of incessant dance practice. In the living room, in the street, on the school run, whilst splashing in puddles. Flap, flap, jump! Tap, snap, stamp, clap!


It’s been lovely though to see her perseverance. But, this isn’t a cutesy post about the importance of commitment to her art, but rather a post for all the dance mums and dads who feel they should probably be committed due to the strains of dance devotion.

Fame costs…


And so does dance school! There’s an audible collective wince whenever kids come out of a lesson clutching a bit of paper: exam costs, extra classes, special uniform, specific shoes, ribbons, socks, CDs. And just as we think we’ve stopped haemorrhaging money out comes the brown envelopes containing next term’s bill. Ouch!

You chauffeur awaits…

By the end of term we’re all knackered. Weekly normal classes are fine, but when extra classes raises the bar to three days on the trot you end up sat deflated in an overly-small changing room resigned to your fate. 

So There Was a Purpose to Girl’s World

Dress rehearsal and we rocked up with Boo’s hair in a French plait. Everyone else had their daughters’ hair in French pigtails! 

“But I can’t do two!” I wailed (a little over-dramatically, but it had been a long week). 

I never had a Girl’s World as a child. I was deprived of hair-braiding technique. But the assumption is that along as being an obligation-free lifestyle, with an endless money tree at the end of our gardens, we’re also professional-level hairdressers. Ballet buns are one thing (you can always use the vacuum for pulled-back perfection of the ponytail) but French plaits are a class above.

From dress-rehearsal to exam day Boo was my living mannequin.

The day before, I nailed it! I’ve never been so relieved. So was Boo’s scalp!

Just Call Me Ginger!

Having a child perma-tapping around the house has the same effect on my mind as the average Disney song: it infuses my perception by stealth until I wake up at 3am with it going round in my head.

I danced as a child myself (and as an adult too – I’d probably still be doing it if I hadn’t had two teachers retire on me, even though I have the body shape and flexibility of Disney’s dancing hippos). I know my way around a shuffle ball-change. At first I pretend I’m helping Boo by prancing around the living room with her, trying to encourage the syncopated rhythms. My excuse for tapping the routines out when she’s not there? There isn’t one. But I’d nailed the Boogie Woogie.

I draw the line at actually digging my tap shoes out. There is at least that. #dignity

Everyone’s Scared of the Dancing Teacher


The kids brace themselves before the lesson. But so do the parents. Miss K is not a patch on Abbey Lee on the Pyramid of Sterness, but there’s a tension around exams and shows. She wants the kids to do well, but you don’t get the best out of them by being nice. The kids want to do well for Miss K, but also don’t want to be called out for messing up. As parents, we sit and hope we’re not called in at the end of the class. Mostly we are. The tears are not always the children’s.


Exam day, the day is sunny but the faces are solemn. Boo is “nervo-cited”. 

As she and her friends go in, those of us waiting in the changing room try to spy through the keyhole, trying to work out whose taps are whose. It doesn’t help ease the nerves.

And then the door opens and three grinning faces burst through.

And suddenly all the expense, the hours, the insanity seem to be worth it. We’ve a long summer wait before we get the results, but Boo and her friends are already winners.

Well done, dance parents – we made it!

Now just to get that goddamn Boogie Woogie out of my head.

Tap, tap, tap, shuffle ball change, shuffle ball change, tap, tap, tap, shuffle ball change, stamp!


6 thoughts on “Shuffle ball-change, clap!”

  1. Oh, the things we do for our kids. For us it was private music lessons for three kids for up to 15 years, with one of them taking from two different instructors for 4 of those years. Definitely strained the budget but it was so worth it. I’m just thankful none of them had a sports-related passion – I wouldn’t have enjoyed ANYTHING about that.

    1. There’s a dance mum in our circle with 5 kids. On dress rehearsal day she ferried them back and forth, back and forth, for a total of 100 miles and had to have a spreadsheet for who was where and when! I’m lucky really. At the end of the day it’s with it though, although music lessons more so than tap.

  2. Shuffe-ball-change!! Do they still call it that?!? I took tap lessons (soOO00oo many years ago) and that was one of the moves THEN!! How funny. Our third daughter was in ballet as a teenager, trips to Kansas City, sewing, etc. You’ll be glad you did it. At least for me, good memories for her and I together.

    1. Yep, there are still kids shuffle-ball-changing the world over. (Although I never remember ‘paradiddles’ that Boo seems to mention a lot.) I took tap lessons too so it’s revenge of the cosmos really. I’m just glad we get to buy our costumes now rather than sewing them from scratch!

  3. I had a hockey kid (Canada) and so didn’t quite relate to the dance theme. That is probably why my mind latched on to the “take your dirty nappy home” sign in the photo and wandered off into “giggle like a 5 year old boy after a fart joke!”

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