Joanna dances into the New Year

Disco was in full swing in 1977, when everyone that was anyone knew how to do the Hustle, “Saturday Night Fever,” was the number-one movie, and my friend and dancing partner Ronnie wanted to be the next Tony Manero. We were both hell-bent on learning ballroom dancing, and our dance of choice was the merengue. We were going to set the dance floor afire in triple time!

Every Friday and Saturday night found the two of us one, two, threeing across the lighted floor at Revelations in Bay Ridge, where there was either a live band or a DJ setting the tone. On one particular night as we stepped, swirled, and dipped just like Carmen Miranda (minus the fruit) and Caeser Romero (minus his Joker make-up), Ronnie flung me a bit too zealously into a spin. As I twirled on my platform shoes, my ankle strap broke, I lost my balance and slid right into the drummers’ big bass. With what little grace I could muster, I stood up, straightened up my black satin jump suit and grabbed Ronnie’s hand, heading straight for the door. The trauma was so great, I never merengued again.

Almost 40 years have passed and that memory still causes my palms to sweat and my heart to go pitter-patter in a very unpleasant way. So why do I bring this up?

As Bob and I celebrated New Year’s Eve with the Battaglia family this weekend, Diana declared that we were going to learn the merengue after the clock struck midnight. Before the words left her lips, I started to hyperventilate. This time, I imagined myself twirling through their Christmas tree and becoming entangled in the lights, ornaments, and tinsel instead of smack dab in the middle of a drum set.

I declined the lesson.

But a funny thing happened — maybe it was the wine … or the champagne — as I watched them one, two, and threeing early on Jan. 1. I realized how much I missed the music and the dance.

So I decided right then and there, that this merenguephobia is ridiculous and that it is time for it to go the way of the satin leisure suit. The time had come for me to finally give up the ghost and start enjoying the merengue once again. My first resolution for 2012 was born.

So here it is folks, my promise for the new year, I will no longer be afraid of the merengue— I will embrace my inner Miranda and enjoy watching ballroom dancing without having a panic attack. To achieve this goal, I will faithfully sit on the couch and enjoy the new season of Dancing With The Stars, no matter who they have on.

Now, all I have left to do is get up the nerve to dance it again and get Bob’s white suit cleaned and pressed. Not for Nuthin, but Tony Manero has nothing on my hubby Bob.

Sending out many thanks to the whole crew, Diana, Drew, Carol, JoAnn, Tommy, Doreen and Eddy, for making another heck of a memorable New Year’s Eve.

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Reach reporter Joanna DelBuono at [email protected] or by calling (718) 260-2523.