The Eiffel Tower

The Last Dance

by John S. Lloyd

I was gazing over the balcony rail above the ship’s Grand Foyer. The house band played “Could I Have This Dance?” a song made famous by Anne Murray. A tall, handsome fellow led his male partner onto the dance floor. They began to waltz. Tears crept into the corners of my eyes. The casually dressed couple moved rhythmically across the small, confined dance floor. Their beautifully choreographed movements seemed effortless. The other couples moved away whenever the two men stepped in their direction. I couldn’t take my eyes off of them. When the song was over they moved off of the dance floor. I wished Eric and me would have been that couple.

The band played a fast disco-type song. They didn’t return. It was unlikely, unless they danced again, that I would see them again. I felt sorry for myself standing alone watching the dancers. Dancing with my former partner is something I really enjoyed. He’s gone. I should have gone with him. I walked slowly to the buffet because I didn’t want to talk to people.

Sitting at a quiet, dim corner table I thought back over the past couple of months. Eric repeatedly told me he was tired of his job and wanted to find a new one doing strategic planning either for a company or in a consulting firm. His current job paid him quite well but he felt the opportunities for advancement were not going to be there for him. I was worried that we would have to move. I really liked what I was doing for the school system. I was lead teacher in math for my middle school. I liked the teachers and they seemed to like me. I was also happy in our condominium which was decorated the way I liked it. We had new white leather furniture in the living room. Over the last year we had purchased all new linens for our bedroom and bathroom. I really liked our place.

Eric seemed distracted when we had sex. What was passionate, romantic sex when we got together six years ago seemed to have become routine for him. I’m a snuggle, cuddlier- type but was happy when he wanted dominate me. I loved when he kissed me. Our kissing and being romantic had become less frequent. To try to bring romance back into our lives I convinced Eric to go with me on a cruise over my spring break. The destination was the Caribbean. The ports didn’t matter since we had done two cruises in the Caribbean before. He agreed and I booked a cabin with a balcony last September.

I had an unusually tense day in late October because two of my teachers were out with the flu. I needed to relax and thought the gym would take my mind off what had been a tiring day. I went through my routine on the weights but the jarring sound of them dropping annoyed me. A brisk forty-five minutes walk on the treadmill seemed endless. After I showered I was alone in the quiet locker room. I stood naked in front of the full length mirror admiring my muscle definition. For a thirty-five year old man I looked pretty good. I couldn’t help but notice the slight bulge on my sides. I pushed my short hair back and could tell my hairline was slightly receding. Since my father was totally bald I knew I would get there soon enough. I brushed my hand over my short trimmed beard which Eric encouraged me to grow. I didn’t think I’d like it but now that I’m used to it I really like it.

I quickly covered myself as two young guys walked in. One cute twenty-something said, “Nice,” and smiled at me. As I dressed, I watched, as they stripped off their clothes and picked up their towels headed to the shower. The man who spoke seemed to linger as if showing off for me. I could hear the water hitting the tile floor and their muffled voices.

When I got home Eric wasn’t there. I checked my phone and there was a text message stating that he was going to be late. There was no explanation. I warmed up some left over pasta and sat down at the dining room table. I took out homework assignments from my seventh grade algebra class and began to grade them. My mind wasn’t really on what I was doing but they had to be graded. About nine o’clock Eric opened the floor door and rushed in. He was obviously excited as he blurted out, “We’re going to Seattle.”

“What?”I yelled.

“I got the job I told you about.” My face must have looked puzzled. He told me about so many jobs. I wasn’t sure which job he was talking about.

“Which one?”

“The one I told you about with the consulting company in Seattle. Remember I told you I had a video interview last week at the recruiter’s office in downtown Atlanta.” I did remember he told me he took off an afternoon for a job interview. That began an hour long conversation about how he was going to give his notice and start in Seattle the beginning of the month. We concluded that he would rent in a long stay hotel until he decided where we would live. I knew the consulting job required regular travel so I would be alone in a city where I didn’t know anyone. I listened but didn’t say too much because I didn’t know how I felt.

Three days later I got home from school and all his clothes were gone and there was a note on the table. “Barry, sorry I left so quickly but the partner called and needed me to start sooner than a month. When I gave my notice my boss allowed me to leave immediately. I’ll text you as I drive out.” I got one text message in the three days it took him to drive to Seattle. It was simply, “I have arrived in Seattle. When are you coming?”

One of the ship’s buffet waiters approached me and said, “Sir, we’re closing in ten minutes. Do you need anything?” I sat dumfounded and slowly shook my head. He walked away. I got up without any planned destination, wandered around and found myself back on the rail above the dance floor hoping to see the two guys dancing. I watched for ten minutes or so and they didn’t appear. I thought, “This was a cruise that Eric and I were supposed to be sharing, but I’m alone.”

I planned to go to Seattle over Thanksgiving but I waited to buy the ticket until Eric confirmed he was going to be in town. He didn’t call and didn’t call. On the internet I watched the ticket prices keep rising. He finally called and apologized but said he had to work the three days leading up to Thanksgiving so I probably shouldn’t come. I got my courage up and said, “Eric are we still a couple?”

There was a long pause before he said, “Well, I really don’t want a long distance relationship. Barry, I like you and I hope we can stay friends.”

Restraining myself I said, “I agree.” And added, “Are you going with me on the cruise in March?”

“I don’t think you should plan on me. There is time for you to find another roommate, isn’t there?”

Eric and me six years ago

Hurt and angry I snapped, “I’ll cancel.”

“Don’t do that. You’ve been looking forward to getting away.” We continued with small talk about our mothers and siblings before hanging up. I knew our time as partners was over. I sat at my desk looking at a framed picture of Eric and me in a dance pose that a friend took shortly after we met. He held me as I dipped back. Eric was the leader. I could easily follow when we did the cha-cha-cha, the waltz and the swing. He would only dance when we were in gay clubs or private parties. He never would have danced in public on a ship like the two guys I watched this evening. I turned off the lights and got into bed.

I didn’t find a roommate for the cruise. I really didn’t try too hard. I slept fitfully and got up early as the ship was docking in St. Maarten. I had signed up for a land tour to the nude beach on the island. Eric and I talked about going to a nude beach in South Carolina but never did it. When I signed up for the tour I wasn’t sure I really had the courage to go through with it. There was no turning back without forfeiting $105. We boarded a bus and drove across the island of scrubby trees and small houses, some well maintained and many not so. Evidence of the destruction of Hurricane Irma was prevalent. We stopped in a parking lot on Orient Bay which was littered with damaged cottages. Our tour guide directed us to an area with beach chairs and umbrellas. No one was nude so I didn’t understand until I overheard one man explain that the nude beach was one hundred yards to the right. We had to walk if we wanted to be nude.

The bright, hot sun forced me and others under umbrellas. Even with the stiff breeze I was hot and I decided to cool off in the warm, clean blue bay. I watched as members of our group walked down the beach. I couldn’t tell if they went to look or to get naked. I decided to find out and started walking that direction. After passing a sign clearly indicating the start of the nude beach I began to see naked men and women. The majority were tanned from head to toe. I stripped off my board shorts and walked the beach as others were doing.

I didn’t recognize anyone from the ship on my entire walk to the end of the beach. As I turned around two naked guys holding hands were walking toward me. They, like me, had tan torsos and legs but white mid-sections. As they got closer I watched their dicks bouncing from side-to-side. I tried to keep my eyes on their faces. We passed, I smiled and they returned my smile and walked on. I stopped at the little beach bar, bought a Heineken, and sat on a bench looking out at the waves lapping at the sandy shore. The two guys I passed climbed the three stairs and stood at the bar buying beer. Holding the wet bottles they came over and sat down. The taller fellow said, “Hi, how you doing? I’m Tony and this is Neil.”

“Beautiful day to be naked,” I said boldly. “I’m Barry.”

“Yeah, we agree. We can’t figure why they put our group on the clothed part of the beach when we signed up for a trip to the nude beach.”

“Me, too. Were you the guys who were dancing together last night. You’re really good.”

Tony said, “Thanks and ‘yes’ that was us.”

Neil followed up with, “We love to cruise. There are usually good bands which play dance music. Do you dance?”

“Yes, my partner and I used to dance together. He would only dance in gay places.”

“Is he with you?”

“No, he was supposed to be but got a new job in Seattle. We decided neither of us wanted a long distance relationship. I’m alone. Anyway I needed to get away.”

I finished my beer but realized too late I was half hard. I felt my face turn red. I knew they noticed but didn’t act like anything was different. I walked back but didn’t see the two guys return. I was so embarrassed. I put on my cap and sunglasses and buried my nose is a book.

I couldn’t concentrate and thought back on our interaction at the little bar. Tony was trim but not skinny. His hair was soft brown but cut short. He, like me, was pretty hairy. The other guy, whose name I couldn’t remember, obviously spent plenty of time in the gym because his torso rippled with a nice six pack. His skin was smooth and I couldn’t tell if he shaved. I tried to remember his name. I hoped I would see them again around the ship.

On the last day at sea as we steamed toward Ft. Lauderdale I saw the two guys sunning by the pool. There happened to be a lounger next to them so I decided to ask to join them. Tony smiled and motioned for me to sit down. We spoke a brief “Hello” and returned to reading.

When the muscular fellow got up, I presumed, to use the bathroom, I said, “Doesn’t look much like the beach the other day.”

He looked up and smiled, “No, too many clothes.” We laughed.

“I have forgotten your name and your partner’s”

“My dance partner is Neil and I am Anthony. You’re Barry, right?”

“So you aren’t regular partners?”

“No, Neil has a partner who hates to cruise. Neil and I have known each other for years and were once upon a time in a modern dance class when we eleven and twelve. We both love to dance and have found the best place to do that is on cruise ships.”

“Do you ever get negative reactions from the straight people?”

“Sometimes we get looks but more often we get ‘You guys are great dancers.’”

Neil returned. They both returned to their books. We didn’t talk anymore until they were leaving. Anthony said, “Barry, good to meet you. See you.”

I smiled and said, “Good bye. Safe travel.” I was sorry I didn’t ask where they lived or any other pertinent information.

The cruise was good for me. Having time away I thought less and less about my relationship with Eric. I wasn’t sad. I remembered the good times we had. A few days after I got back to my condo I boxed up a few of his things for shipment to Seattle. I texted Eric proposing to buy his half of our condo if I could secure the financing. I also said I would buy our white, leather living room furniture and our Thermapedic mattress. He thanked me. He said he had no plans to return to Atlanta and appreciated me sending his things.

Gay dance competition on YouTube

I quickly got back into my school routine and didn’t think much about a social life. I guess you could say I was in recovery. One night I was looking at a YouTube post of a dance competition for gay couples. The dancers were elegant and smooth. The couples were competing in tango when I turned the program on. With all the movement of the couples it was difficult to clearly distinguish faces. One couple looked like the guys I met on the ship but they looked younger. I tried hard to see if I recognized them but they were eliminated after two dances. When I watched the credits I found that the competition had taken place several years ago.

After watching the program I decided to take dance lessons. I couldn’t imagine that there would be dance lessons for gay men unless the men were satisfied dancing lead with straight women. I looked in Georgia Voice, the Atlanta gay newspaper, and didn’t find anything. I went on the internet and didn’t find anything. I really wanted to dance so I signed up for a dance class advertised for singles. The studio was located downtown close to Georgia State University. I signed up online. The first class was a Friday night in early May. The night was hot and muggy. I hoped the studio was air conditioned.

To my surprise our instructor was Anthony. I didn’t know he lived in Atlanta. I had never seen him at the bars or restaurants in the gay area. I spoke to his assistant and didn’t speak to him. I was sure he wouldn’t remember me. The couples were all men and women. I could proficiently lead but I preferred to be the partner. The class was an advanced class of traditional ballroom steps. It was obvious that these couples danced regularly. We alternated partners after each dance which was good. At the end of the class I was sharing a soft drink with a woman I had danced with several times when Anthony approached us. He shocked me when he said, “Barry, happy you’re here.” He turned to talk to my dance partner. As I started toward the door Anthony said, “Wait, can you stay for a few minutes?” I stopped.

He said nothing further until everyone was gone except me. He returned to where I was sitting. “Barry, let me put on a waltz. We can dance. I remember you told me you preferred to follow, right?”

“You have a good memory.” The song he played was “Can I Have This Dance?” He put his right hand under my left shoulder. He took my right hand and we extended our arms in a classic waltz stance. I could feel the sweat on my forehead. With the music playing he stepped toward me. I automatically stepped back. As a leader he gave strong signals which I appreciated. We danced through the entire song with its slow and traditional rhythms. When the music stopped he let go of me and stepped back. “You’re a little rusty but very relaxed. I’ve been asked about giving some private lessons to a couple of gay couples who want to learn to dance. Most are novices but a few are more experienced. Would you be interested?”

“I don’t have a dance partner?”

“Let me work on that. We have your contact information on your registration form, right?”

“Yes, but here’s my card.” I pulled one out of my wallet.

Learning to dance

As he turned out the lights we walked out of the studio together. He went left and I went right at the bottom of the stairs. A week later there was a text message from Anthony stating that he had arranged for a small, upstairs studio not too far from where we had the first dance class. He gave me the address and asked if I could come on the following Wednesday night at 9:00pm. Wednesday was my usual gym night but I would skip that. I thought about what being in a class of only gay people would be like. I thought back on my first sighting of Anthony and Neil. I wondered if Neil and his partner lived in Atlanta, too.

I showed up about fifteen minutes early and found a mixed dance class going on. I watched with Anthony and another couple who, I assumed, would be in our class. When the class was over the dancers were slow to leave. Finally, at 9:15 Anthony invited six of us onto the dance floor. He started by introducing himself and asked each of us introduce ourselves. There were clearly two couples who were partnered and one single Asian fellow. Anthony suggested I pair with the Asian fellow whose name was Sam. He immediately took the follower stance so that left me leading. I didn’t react as Anthony started a foxtrot. I knew the steps and stepped into Sam who moved with me and in time with the music. The other two couples were just learning. It was clear the men knew how to lead but not how to follow. Anthony asked Sam and me to stop. He wanted to show the couples how the follower takes signals from the leader. It worked well and I got to follow for the remainder of our lesson.

Toward the end of the lesson Anthony took Sam’s hand and led him in a Argentinean tango which Sam did flawlessly. I was mesmerized by their movements. When the tango ended he started the music for a fast waltz and took my hand. We whirled around the floor. I loved it.

After we finished the group gathered around him and he told us he had rented the studio for a month. He asked each of us to pay $50 to pay for the rental which included his fee. One couple shyly explained that they couldn’t afford that much and thanked Anthony. He was gracious but didn’t reduce his request. He announced that the next class would be the following Wednesday. He added that he expected several additional people to join us. Anthony invited everyone to go out for a drink. I was the only one who accepted his offer. Sam seemed annoyed that I did. I got the impression that Sam was expecting Anthony to go out with him. Sam turned and left us standing there. We walked half a block to a quiet, neighborhood bar frequently by Georgia State students. There were only three or four people sitting at the bar. We sat at a small table and each ordered a glass of white wine. While we waited Anthony asked, “Well, did you like the class?”

“I really did. At the beginning I was afraid I was going to have to lead all evening.”

“Yes, Sam’s not shy about what he wants.”

“So you know him.”

“Yes, he and I were dance partners in several local competitions before Neil.”

“You’ve known him for quite a while?”

“Actually, we tried to be partners, more than dance partners for a short time. I couldn’t take his negative outlook on life. He has a chip on his shoulder, but he is a good dance partner.”

“He is easy to dance with.” I paused finishing my wine, “Anthony, I really have to get going. I have school tomorrow.”

He seemed surprised, “You’re a teacher?”

“Yes, a math teacher at Buckhead Middle School.”

“Are you free this weekend? We could practice together.”

“Do you have space to dance at your place?” I inquired.

“Not really. What about you?”

“Actually, I do if we push the furniture back.”

“Will your partner be home?”

“He moved to Seattle and I didn’t want to move with him.”

Undeterred he said, “OK. What day and what time?”

“Does Saturday night or Sunday afternoon work for you?”

“Let’s do Sunday afternoon at three. Maybe we can grab something for dinner.”

“What if I fix something like a casserole or pasta?”

“I’ll bring the wine.” We got up and gave each other a brotherly hug. He went out and hailed a taxi. I had my car and should have offered him a ride. I thought about Anthony numerous times through the rest of the week. I went to the grocery store Saturday morning to get the ingredients for pasta sauce with mushrooms and the makings for a small salad. I would dress the salad with my own homemade Italian dressing.

On Sunday afternoon I was dressed in shorts and a collared, casual knit shirt. I was barefoot when Anthony rang the buzzer to my condo. He was dressed in tight shorts and a tee shirt. He had boat shoes on but took them off at my front door. I wondered if we could dance in bare feet. When we pushed back the furniture I was embarrassed that there was dust around the edges of the rug. Anthony sat unperturbed on one my bar stools as I excused myself to get a dust mop.

Watching me commented, “I like your place. You have a great view, much better than mine.” After my quick clean up he said, “What dance do you want to do? I have all sorts of music on my cell phone. Can we plug into your speakers?”

“I don’t know how to do that.”

“I’ve got my cord with UBS plug. Where’s your computer?”

“In the bedroom.” He followed me and I showed him my computer. He reached down to my main frame and plugged his cord into a UBS port. He adjusted the volume for an energetic cha-cha-cha. He took my two hands and we began. He was easy to follow, and we had a good time doing cha-cha-cha, salsa, jive and finally a slow foxtrot. He held me really close. I loved it.

“You want to try a tango?”

“Let’s try but I really have never danced with someone good at the tango. Eric and I tried and weren’t very good.” As usual he stood in front of me but put his hand much further around my back than a normal dance hold. He took three steps forward and stepped on my foot. He broke his hold and asked that I watch him. He again took three steps forward and then one quick step to the right. He then went back three steps and a quick step to the left. “That’s basic, but there are more basics. Let’s practice this one first.” Again he took his dance position and he started the music more softly so we could count. I was getting the rhythm and he said, “Enough, we’ll end with a waltz.”

I was in heaven dancing the waltz with him. In fact, I was day dreaming being in a tuxedo with tails dancing around the floor with Anthony when I heard, “Earth to Barry, I’m here.” I was embarrassed. I was sure I was blushing.

“OK, what were you thinking about?”

“I’m embarrassed to tell you.”

“Don’t be so mysterious.”

“I was visualizing you and me waltzing in tuxedos with tails on a cruise ship with hundreds of people applauding.”

“It could happen. Let’s have supper. I skipped lunch anticipating your pasta.” As I boiled the pasta water, dressed the salad and warmed the pasta sauce Anthony sat at the counter watching me. He didn’t say much and neither did I. The cork in the pinot noir popped as I pulled it out. I poured each of us a glass. We toasted to our new friendship before sitting down for dinner. We talked about first date things like hometowns, education, jobs, and pleasures. At the end of the evening he said he had to be going because he had an early morning flight to New York for a conference. He said he hoped that he would back for class on Wednesday. He did give me the telephone numbers of the guys he expected, in case he couldn’t get back.

That’s what happened. I got a text message at 4:30 on Wednesday from Anthony telling me his plane had been cancelled. Being the anal type I had already created a dance group telephone tree on my cell phone. All I had to do was type a text to ten cell phone numbers that said, ‘Anthony’s stuck in New York. No dance class tonight.’ I got ‘OK’s’ from several.

I didn’t hear from Anthony until Saturday morning. The text was short, ‘Thanks. Are we on for tomorrow afternoon?’ I responded ‘Sure, 3pm.’ I was puzzled when he arrived in nicer clothes than last week. I thought he had come from an event. “What’s with the fancy duds?”

“I’m taking you to a dance competition in Midtown.”


“No, conventional. I want you to see what they do.”

“OK, but I’m not sure what I am supposed to wear.”

“Show me your closet and I will pick out your clothes. Take off what you have on.” He followed me into the room and stood before me waiting for me to undress.

“I’m commando. Do you care?”

“Shit, no. I would like to see all of you again.” He turned and I stripped off my shorts and tee shirt and stood naked before him. When he turned back all he said was, “Nice.” Fifteen minutes later he had me dressed in a pink stripped long sleeved shirt, my favorite ivory linen pants and Espadrilles. He tied a small silk caveat around my neck. I had forgotten I even had the caveat. The event took place in a worn, older gymnasium at Georgia State. He told me the event was a competition between several local dance studios. There were couples of all ages. In small groups they did the jive, foxtrot, waltz, cha-cha-cha and tango. I was fascinated watching the eleven to fourteen age group. The kids were good and really looked like they were enjoying the dancing.

Next group was the late teenagers. Most were two girl couples dancing. They were followed by the open category for ages from eighteen and up. There were three groupings because there were so many dancers. Finally, there was the senior category. The white haired folks danced more slowly but with grace and so much feeling. We stayed for about three hours but didn’t stay for the finals. We were both hungry. Being in Midtown we went to Susie’s Back Porch which he suggested. The evening was cool so we could sit outside.

As we were finishing I said, “Do you mind if I ask you about the Asian fellow I danced with last week. He was pretty good.”

“Sam and I were dance partners at two major dance competitions most recently at the Gay Games in Cleveland a few years ago. We did pretty well. Sam is a perfectionist. When he or I made a mistake he went into a maddening funk. He stomped around like a child. After we got home to Atlanta he wanted to keep dancing and wanted our relationship to be much more than I wanted it to be. We’ve stayed in touch. I let him know about the class because he can lead and follow easily. As you saw the other night he still thinks I belong to him. “

“That was quite obvious by the way he stomped out.”

“I don’t worry about Sam. He’s like a badly behaved puppy.”

“Isn’t Neil your partner for competitions now?”

“It’s interesting that you ask because I got a text from him that he can’t go with me to the gay games in Paris this year. I hadn’t sent in our registration so I probably won’t go. Have you ever been to a gay games? It is more fun than a gay cruise. There are close to 10,000 people who participate or watch their lovers and friends do sports. There’s a big dance competition.”

“When are the games this year?”

“They’re in early August. I don’t remember the exact dates.” After a little more conversation we spit the bill and I dropped Anthony off at his apartment in West Midtown. He told me he had a one bedroom unit on the third floor. Anthony invited me in but I needed to get home and get ready for school. I told him I would see him at dance class on Wednesday.

Monday night he called and asked if I was busy. If I wasn’t he would like to drop by for a few minutes. I told him to come over. He arrived in about twenty minutes. He came in wearing shorts and a tee shirt and like his first visit slipped off his topsiders. He looked serious but he didn’t say anything as I handed him a glass of red wine. He said, “Sit down, Barry. I have been thinking. Would you be willing to dance with me in the Paris competition?”

I took a deep breath. “Anthony, I don’t think I’m of that quality.”

“Believe me you’d have to work your ass off between now and then. As soon as school is out are you free for the summer?”

“I was thinking about teaching in summer school but that was to have something to do. You think we would start training now and do intensive training in May, June and July.”

“Right, when I’m working you can be working out. The competition is brutal and mentally exhausting. The better physical shape you’re in the easier the psychological stuff is.”

“How many steps?”

“There are five required dance steps and five Latin steps.”

“It’ll cost you some money. We’d have to rent the space where we have class. It’s cheap if we dance early or dance late in the evening. Obviously, we have to fly to France and find a place to stay. Oh, and that doesn’t include the costumes. We will have a couple of Neil’s costumes altered. You and he are pretty close to the same size.”

“What do you think it will cost?”

“I suspect $2000-$3000 which would include the 100 Euro registration.”

“I can handle that. But I’m not sure I’m a good enough dancer.”

“Let me decide that. If I tell you we can’t do it you won’t be too upset.”

“I’d be crushed but I won’t let you know it. Seriously, I don’t want to go and make a fool of myself. Be honest with me.”

“I will, I promise you.” He got up to leave and brushed a kiss across my lips. I leaned right into him as his mouth came toward mine.

We saw each other again on Wednesday night for class. A total of thirteen guys and two women showed up. For the most part the couples were novices. Sam wasn’t there but there was a cute Asian guy with a Mediterranean or Arabic partner who danced well together. Neither was very tall. The class was really fun. We switched partners some and I got to swirl around the floor in a waltz with Anthony. Later we danced a very physical jive. I was worn out because Anthony was constantly turning and jiving. After class I waited until everyone except Anthony was gone. “How’d I do?”

“Good, pretty good.” He seemed ready to say something but didn’t for long seconds. “What if I came over and spent the night? Do you think it’s too soon?”

“Absolutely, whoa, that’s great. Tonight?”

“No, I meant Saturday. Don’t cook. We’ll go out. After Saturday night I won’t see you for a couple of weeks. I’ve got a long road trip in the west and up into Canada…Shit, I forgot to cancel class.”

“That’s OK because I set up a call tree with the names you gave me before. Were there any new guys not on your list.”

I got out my cell phone and I read the names I had. He was quiet and seemed to be scanning the studio in his mind. “Oh, the Asian fellow and his partner. I have contact information for only one of them. He looked at the signup sheet which included the names of Curt Stannous and Chi Chow. He added, “Include the lesbians, as well.” He read me the cell numbers. We’ll would send out a text message when I’m over on Saturday night.” He turned off the lights and we went down the stairs. I offered him a ride and he accepted. We kissed again as he was getting out of the car. “See you Saturday about 4pm.”

I was excited and nervous. I cleaned the condo on Saturday morning. I went go to the grocery store to get some food for snacks and some breakfast items. He rang the buzzer exactly at 4pm. He was casually dressed for our dinner date. He came in with a bottle of wine and walked straight to the drawer where I kept the cork screw. The cork popped as he pulled it out. I couldn’t help but notice the prominent outline in his pants. He handed me the glass of wine and said, “Let’s sit outside on the patio.”

Fortunately, I had washed the dust off of the chairs which I rarely used. My balcony doesn’t get west sun so it was reasonably pleasant. He hadn’t said more than a couple of words.

“What’s on your mind?” I said.

After a few seconds pause he said, “I really do want to get it on with you. But I keep telling myself that bed partners usually don’t make good dance partners. I’m honestly conflicted.”

“I assume you don’t have a partner because you have never mentioned one.”

“I have had but not for the past three years. I’ve been too busy.”

“Well, you know my story with Eric. He never really told me why he wanted to end our relationship. Maybe I’m not a good partner type.”

“I won’t comment because I really don’t know. But equally I may not be good partner material either. Here’s what I propose. Let’s shower get in bed and have sex. I’m top and you’re bottom the first time. We’ll clean up and go have dinner and come back and reverse rolls. What do you say?”

“OK, but I’m a romantic and that sounds so clinical. I would prefer condoms this first time.” He smiled and didn’t agree or disagree. All he said was, “Come over here and I’ll undress you right here on the balcony.”

“What if people see?”

“You have to get used to being in front of people.”

“But not naked.”

“Come over here.” I did as he directed and felt totally vulnerable. He pulled my tee shirt over my head.

I grabbed his hand and said, “It’s my turn to take off your shirt.” He didn’t resist as I unbuttoned his Ralph Lauren short sleeved light blue shirt. Since we were both barefooted I stood there and loosened his belt, pants and slid his zipper down. His pants dropped and he stepped out of them. He reached for the elastic top of my shorts and pulled them down completely exposing me. He smiled, “Commando, again.”

Barry and Anthony in bed

I smiled, took his hand and led him into my bedroom. I pulled off his underpants and we stood naked looking at each other. I reached for his head and pulled it into my lips. He eagerly slid his tongue into my mouth. We got onto the clean sheets and hugged each other. The room was bright so there was no hiding the dark spots on my skin or the long scar on his right upper arm. Our hard dicks touched. They looked very much alike. Both were circumcised with pronounced heads. We kissed and fondled until he took my dick in his mouth.

He methodically went up and down until I was close, and then he stopped. He told me to get on my back and prepare for him. He did not seem in a hurry as he lubed his index finger and his own dick. The finger effortless went into me which surprised him. I said, not realizing how it sounded, “I’m easy, entry shouldn’t be a problem.”

After a brief silence he said, “OK, I’m ready.” He lined up and pushed and easily slipped into my chamber. I sighed because he felt so good. He was tentative and moved slowly as he slipped in and out. No more than two minutes later he said, “Fuck, I’m going to cum and I can’t stop it.”His climax was intense. I was disappointed when his dick deflated and slipped out. He said sheepishly, “Sorry, it’s been awhile. I’ll do better later.”

He took my dick in his hand and I pushed his hand away, “Let’s wait until we get back.” He drew his hand away and put his head on my shoulder. He released a deep sigh but he didn’t say anything. I whispered, “Let go. Don’t worry we have twenty-four hours.” He didn’t listen to me and returned to my dick. Minutes later I filled his mouth as he eagerly sucked.

After a shower we were on our way to Lester’s Diner which was around the corner. The food was what the name implies - diner food. He had a dinner salad with cheese and ham and I had their delicious bean soup and a small salad. He asked me questions about my time with Eric including the trips we took and the things we liked. When I tried to find out about him he deflected my questions with more questions for me. I didn’t press him and figured I would find out in good time. We finished our meal with two small bowls of ice cream. I had vanilla and he had mint chocolate chip.

Once back in my condo we returned to the balcony to look out over my neighborhood. He filled two glasses of wine. We sat quietly. I was off in space when he touched my hand. He motioned for me to stand and we walked close to the edge. He pointed to a lighted window in the next building where a man and woman were having sex. I thought it was funny and said, “It’s like watching porn on mute.” He laughed and pulled me inside back into my bedroom.

We were naked again. Anthony said, “Now it’s your turn. Be gentle. I’m not usually on the bottom.”

“If you don’t want to, that’s fine.”

“No, I want to.” He got on his knees as I lubed my condom covered dick. He spread his cheeks. I decided not to loosen him but to go very slowly with my entry. I was very hard but he was very tight. I had to hold onto my dick to keep it from bending as I pushed. I encouraged him to relax. That seemed hard for him. Finally, I popped in and he called out, “Whoa, easy.” As I pushed ahead he got used to the intrusion. As before he said, “Shit, I’m cumming.” I hadn’t even touched his dick. He moaned as I pushed in and pulled out. He finally relaxed as I held his hips firmly and enjoyed my time inside his body. My climax was pleasant but I would much rather have been looking into his eyes.

We didn’t shower but fell asleep cuddling. I got up to make coffee and tried not to wake him. I was naked when he came into the kitchen dressed in a tee shirt and underpants. He came up to me and put his arms around me. I felt a soft kiss on my shoulder and a hand rubbing my butt. He said, “Barry, I’ve got to go. Plane is a 2:00 to Toronto.”

“When will you be back?”

“I hope the Friday after next. We have to plan our practice schedule. Do you want me to sleep over?”


“I can move in if you want me to. My apartment lease is up at the end of the month.”

“Why not? While you’re gone I’ll make room for your stuff. I have a few more things to send to Eric.” He took his coffee into the bedroom. I heard the shower going and wished I was with him but decided we would have plenty of opportunities. As he was ready to walk out the door he said, “Don’t forget to send the text about the class being cancelled for the next two weeks.

Still naked I sat down at the computer and sent the text message. With Anthony gone I sat in my favorite chair and tried to decide what I really thought about Anthony. His body is perfect. It isn’t too muscular but sculpted just enough. His beautiful dark eyes seemed to penetrate me when he looked at me. He has secrets which he is reluctant to reveal.


While Anthony was gone I focused on my workouts. Anthony had given me the exercises that he thought I should be doing to increase my flexibility and my stamina. Every other day I was at the gym for two hours of stretching, weight training and cardio. The cardio took the form of a spin class which I really liked. Standing in front of the mirror in the locker room I could see the difference. I was looking forward to seeing Anthony so he could see my progress. That didn’t happen.

On Friday night when he was supposed to return he called and said he had to divert to Anniston, Alabama because his dad was ill. He said he might be a couple of days but thought I should text everyone that the dance class would be cancelled. I got a text from him on Sunday telling me his dad was more serious and he was going to have to stay.”

He called a short time later and said, “Barry, I know this is a lot to ask but would you go get my stuff out of my apartment. I feel bad asking but I can’t leave my dad right now.”As if he had anticipated his delay he had left his key.

“I’ve got the key. I’ll get on it tomorrow because there’s a school holiday. What’s yours and what stays?”

He said, “Basically clothes but I’ll email you a list. When you’re there if you have questions you can text me. I’ll get working on the list now.” He hung up.

The phone rang a few minutes after I sent the cancellation text message. I thought Anthony forgot something. Looking at the screen I saw Chi, the Asian guy in our dance class, was calling. He said, “What’s up with Anthony?” I told him the story and he said he and Curt could help me move Anthony’s stuff if I wanted them to. “We’ve got a bunch of boxes since we just moved in together.”

I appreciated the offer and asked them to meet me at Anthony’s the following morning about 11:00. Chi said he could be there but thought Curt might have to work. I thanked him. As it turned out they both showed up. They made quick work of packing up the kitchen and Anthony’s office area.

I went into his bedroom and unloaded his closet into several of his suitcases and I brought one of my own. I was amazed at the number of designer underpants and tee shirts he had. I opened the bottom drawer which was filled with ballet slippers, dance straps and tights of many colors. In less than two hours we had things on Anthony’s list packed. Our biggest problem was deciding how to transport his bicycle. Curt decided he would ride over as Chi and I drove our cars.

On the way to my condo I called in an order for Chinese takeout. After picking up the food at the noisy joint I drove on and found Chi and Curt standing in front of my building. I carried the food and the two of them loaded two luggage trolleys with Anthony’s things. Upstairs they took off their shoes before entering my condo. We unloaded the luggage into my second bedroom. I said, “This will wait until Anthony gets back. Let’s have lunch.”

I opened up the containers and handed out the chopsticks. We ate quietly until Curt said, “You and Anthony been together long?”

“We’re not really partners. He asked if he could move in because his lease was up. I had the room because my former partner moved without me to Seattle.”

Chi said, “You didn’t want to go?”

“We sort of agreed to breakup. We’re still friends, I think.”

My tentative comments caused Curt say, “Are you OK?”

“I’ve had time to think about it. I’m getting OK with it. I’ve got dance and Anthony to divert my attention.”

“You guys look like you have danced together for a long time.”

“I danced with him only once before you guys saw us in class. To be honest both of us had partners who were good dancers. What about you guys?”

“I moved here from San Francisco for work. I met Curt about three months ago when we were swimming at our gym.”

“You guys dance pretty well together.”

“Both of us took dance lessons when we were younger,” Chi said. “We saw the little note in the gay paper about Anthony’s class and decided to try to improve. Curt is a much better leader than I am. We liked the class and have been disappointed that Anthony has had to cancel so often. Heard anything about next week?”

“Sorry, haven’t heard from Anthony. I’ll let you know as soon as I know. Anthony thinks he wants us to compete in the gay games in Paris this summer. We’re definitely not ready. We need to start regular practicing if that’s going to happen.”

“Whoa, that’s exciting,” Chi said. “I thought you were partner partners.”

“I will be honest and tell you I hope that might happen. Too early to say. You don’t know me but I love romantic stuff. Anthony, I don’t know…”

“You mean he isn’t interested in sex, “Curt blurted out.

Chi reprimanded Curt, “That’s not any of your business.”

“Don’t worry, I’m not offended. Curt’s right, I can’t put my finger on it. When we were in bed the first time he told that he would top me, then we’d go out to dinner and come back and he would be my bottom. That’s what happened.”

“Did you like it with him?”

“I know you usually don’t call having sex clinical but that’s how I’d describe it. After we were finished he said that he was concerned that dance partners don’t usually make good bed partners.”

“So maybe you’ll be roommates and dance partners.” Curt added. “We’ve got to go but maybe the four of us can get together for dinner sometime after Anthony gets back. We’ve been thinking about asking him for private lessons.” They excused themselves I got a hug from each of them.

As I was cleaning up the phone rang. Anthony told me his dad was better and his sister had arrived so he could return to Atlanta. I picked him up from the airport determined to find out more. I was shocked to see his wrist in a cast. “What happened?”

“I tripped over a foot stool in my father’s hospital room. I’ll be fine in a couple of weeks. It’s only cracked.” I didn’t have a chance to discuss things with Anthony because he was busy unpacking. I texted everyone confirming that the dance class was going to happen. When we arrived at the studio we were joined by eight individuals including Curt and Chi. There had been attrition of the lesbian couple and all the single guys except me and one other fellow named Mark. I was partnered with him but he was a beginner. He stepped on my feet numerous times. Near the end of the class, as the time before, Anthony rescued me and we danced a quick foxtrot and ended the class with a waltz.

As the class was dispersing I was speaking to Chi and Curt. They were waiting to connect with Anthony about the private dance lessons. When he joined us I said, “Anthony, Chi and Curt helped me move your things to my place. We got it done in one morning.”

He said, “Thanks guys. I wondered how you got my bike over to your place.”

Curt said, “I rode it over. Excuse me for saying but my balls still haven’t recovered because you had the seat so high.”

Anthony playfully reached out his hand and grabbed Curt’s pants. “I’ll massage them and make it better.” Chi and I both raised our eyebrows at Anthony’s bold response.

Curt calmly responded, “Feels good, really good.” Anthony pulled his hand back.

“I understand from Barry that you want private dance lessons. I have a suggestion. Barry and I are planning to train for the dance competition at the gay games. The practice will take a lot of time. If I agree to work with you would you be agreeable to do your lessons when Barry and I are here practicing. That will help us pay for the studio.”

Curt and Chi shook their heads affirmatively. Curt asked, “Do you have times reserved because I need to schedule myself off work. Sometimes I work nights and weekends?”

“I will speak to the studio owner but I suspect we will only be able to get times early in the morning or late in the evening. We will start out two times a week but I know Barry and I will need more practice closer to the event.” Our practice and their lessons started the following Saturday night. Both Chi and Curt were quite coordinated and surprisingly graceful when they danced. Anthony suggested that they decide who was going to lead and who was going to follow. It was decided that Curt would lead because he was taller. They were an attractive couple. Chi was clearly Chinese but I was unsure whether Curt was Arabic or Mediterranean. He had black hair and a facial shadow in the evenings.

To build up stamina we danced the full ninety minutes every time we had the studio. Each lesson Anthony would initially instruct Chi and Curt in one of ten dances covered in the Ten Dance. Five were the International Ballroom (Standard)dances: waltz, foxtrot, quickstep, tango and Viennese waltz, along with the five International Latin Dances: rumba, samba, paso doble, cha-cha-cha and jive. We only rested when Anthony changed the music. Before each dance Anthony would give Chi and Curt additional instruction. At the end of class the three of us were usually exhausted. Anthony never seemed to sweat. He complimented my progress and that of Curt and Chi. He encouraged them to consider applying for the Paris event.

About two weeks later on a warm spring evening I had all the windows open. Honking and fire engine sirens disturbed the cooling evening air. Anthony sat quietly in the living room. I sensed something was brothering him. I was wiping my hands having put some chicken in the oven to bake. I said, “What’s up?”

“I’ve got a tough decision to make. My boss called me in today and asked me to prepare for another extended marketing trip to the west coast. He said it could be two weeks or more. I didn’t say anything initially. When I didn’t response he got curious and said, ‘Is there a problem?’ I told him about our plans for the Paris event and told him I couldn’t be away that long right now.”

“What’d he do?”

“Instead of berating me, which is his normal management style, he offered me a bigger territory and more products. He told me to go home and think about it.”

“Obviously, it’s your decision but have you ever thought of asking for a six month leave of absence. If he thinks you’re that good don’t you think he would want to retain you even if he couldn’t have you right now. Or propose that you would continue to do what you normally do but without the travel. It’s true he might ask for your resignation but that wouldn’t be the end of the world. I’ve got enough money for us to get to Paris and back.”

“That’s nice but I couldn’t let you do that. Let me think about it. But you’re right getting another sales job would not be a problem but I do like the company.” We sat quietly as I sipped on my glass of white wine. The buzzer went off in the kitchen and I went in to finish the dinner preparations. When we sat down at the table I poured two glasses of water, placed the chicken and vegetables on the table with two garden salads already dressed.

I said, “I know you have a lot to think about but could I ask you a few questions?”

“Sure, fire away.”

“You know when we cleaned out your apartment I found a drawer full of ballet clothes. You have never mentioned that you were that kind of dancer.”

Photo used with permission from David Vance Photo used with permission from David Vance Photo used with permission from David Vance

“That’s a fair question,” he smiled. “From the time I was in high school all I wanted was to be a professionally dancer, ballet or modern. I’d been in dance classes since I was 7 or 8. Often I was the only boy. After a spring dance recital the instructor confided to my mother that she thought I was too tall to be successful. My mother only told me what the instructor said several years later as I struggled to find my place in the dance world. Fortunately, for me I had the looks that modeling agencies in New York were looking for. He got up from the table and went into his room and returned with two scrapbooks. After he sat down he said, “I continued to take dance lessons paid for by my modeling.” He opened to a page with an 8x10 picture of himself and another model naked in a ballet stance. Another showed them romantically gazing into each others eyes He showed me another of him on a gymnastic circle. He flipped thorough several other pages with artistic shots.

“What were the pictures for?”

“The well-known photographer, David Vance, wanted artistic shots of dancers for a book he was preparing. Jamie in the picture was a good buddy. We tried being partners, for about six months but he found someone else.”

I held the books looking at picture after picture of Anthony. Finally, I asked, “Did you stop dancing ballet professionally?”

“I didn’t but only danced ballet sporadically. I did a production of “The Nutcracker” with the Atlanta ballet. Because I was so tall I was on the back row. Also, on the last day of the production in 2000 I landed wrong and broke my ankle. I was out of action for more than six months. The break was slow to heal. I thought my dance career might be over.

Anthony (closest) in chorus line

“To prove to myself I could still dance I auditioned for a revival tour of “Chorus Line.” I was selected and in that production. Being tall was a good thing. After that tour I auditioned and danced in “Fosse” for about a year. While performing in Cincinnati I broke the same ankle. I was tired of the travel. I reluctantly accepted the fact that my dance career was over.

“To answer your question about the ballet clothes. I had plenty of time when I was on the road. I set up a little online company that sold different types of dance accessories: tights, ballet and regular dance shoes and the like. After Cincinnati I started going to regional trade shows with my ankle in a cast. My business grew and produced a good deal more money than the dancing did. At one of the trade shows I was approached by a guy, who is now my boss, about representing their company’s products on my website. We talked and a couple of months later I had a new big line. I didn’t have to deal with the orders. I emailed them directly onto our company and they processed them. After the “Fosse” tour I hung up my dance straps.”

“But you have kept dancing, right with Eric and Sam?”

“Ballroom only and mainly with Eric. He called me back in early 2014 and asked if I wanted to be his partner in the gay games dance competition in Cleveland. I hadn’t heard from him for a couple of years and didn’t even know where he was living. It turned out that he and his partner were living in Charlotte. I was interested but wondered if we would have enough time to practice living two hundred and fifty miles apart. As it turned out we danced together only six weekends before Cleveland and won third place in the Open competition. Since then we entered a couple of regional dance competition where we always placed.”

“Did you have a partner?”

“In the dance and modeling business it wasn’t hard to find sex if you wanted to. Many models are escorts, I never was.”

“I meant someone you cared about?”

“I had a couple of relationships like the one with Jamie in the pictures. Dancing was more important than the person I was having sex with.” With dinner over we of us cleaned the dishes and went to our respective rooms. I so wanted Anthony to come to my bed. I wanted hold him and cuddle with him. It didn’t happen.

Anthony did approach his boss with the proposition of taking six months off. He told me his boss didn’t react negatively and accepted his proposition. That happened one week before the end of school. Because we both would be more available we planned to intensify our training. We prepared a schedule for the gym workouts, bike or spin time and studio time. We shared it with Chi and Curt who joined us as often as they could.

In early June we had Chi and Curt over for dinner. It was Anthony’s idea because he was curious if they felt ready to go to Paris with us. We sat in the living room after dinner and talked. Anthony said straight out, “Do you guys feel ready? Do you want me to register you? I have the application ready.”

Curt said, “We’ve discussed it and feel with two more months of rehearsal we could be ready and not embarrass ourselves.”

Anthony said, “You guys are way beyond that point. We all need work on tango and paso doble routines. Really, we need work on everything. What if I reserved the studio four times a week. Can you make it?”

Curt responded, “Let me know the times and I’ll schedule myself off?”

“I’ll call the studio tomorrow and see. Another thing at the end of the month I want all of us to stop the weight training and concentrate on flexibility and stamina. I suggest two hours, two times a week for cycling or spinning. I am going to see if we can use the ballet room which is attached to the studio so we have a stretch bar.”

Chi spoke, “You know our place is quite a distance from the studio. I was so tired after practice last week I caught myself falling asleep as we drove home. Is it possible for us to sleep over now and then?”

I started to speak but Anthony jumped in, “Sure, I’ll sleep with Barry and you can have my bed. The sheets may not be clean.” I was surprised but pleased that I might finally get him in bed with me.” After our Saturday night practice Chi and Curt did stay over and Anthony slept with me. He didn’t object as I cuddled against his backside with both of us naked. In the morning we paraded around naked. Even in underpants I could tell that Curt and Chi had well proportioned bodies. Their skins were equally brown and without blemishes. Curt had plenty of hair on his chest where as Chi had none.

As we sat around drinking tea and coffee Anthony said, “You guys know there’s a ballroom dance competition sponsored by Atlanta Pride coming up soon.”

“Pride isn’t until October,” I said.

“Your right but this competition is late this month at some hotel. I think we should dance in front of an audience. What do you think? We’ve got to think about costumes for Paris anyway. What do you think?” No one objected as Anthony proposed costume options. Traditional tuxedos were not a problem for the three of them but mine was too small in the chest and shoulders because of my workouts. Anthony suggested we go shopping for a tuxedo for me and matching shirts for the Latin competition. Curt and Chi were with us at least two or three nights a week leading up to the LGBT competition.

When we arrived we could see a crowd of contestants. That meant three elimination rounds. Chi and Curt were in the first round and easily made it into the semi-finals. Anthony and I had to wait until the third group. As we began I noticed that Anthony was limping slightly. His face was serious as we did a quick step superior to the other competitors. We were in the semi-finals. Both couples danced well in the waltz, foxtrot and jive. Chi and Curt looked uncomfortable doing the tango but made it through. Anthony and I danced the tango so well we got applause from the audience. Anthony whispered at the end of the dance, “Barry I have to stop.” He was limping more significantly as we walked off. I went over to the judges table and told a judge we had to drop out because of an injury. She and the judge sitting next to her seemed disappointed.

Chi and Curt continued to dance and won first place in jive and foxtrot and took second place in the overall competition. They hugged us and chirped like little birds as we stood together. I was concerned about Anthony. That night Chi and Curt went to their home. We didn’t see them until rehearsal Monday night. At home after Anthony took off his clothes he sat quietly in his underwear in the living room. I hung up his clothes and mine. I came back in wearing baggy pajama pants and an undershirt.

Anthony said, “Your body looks so sexy dressed like that.” He paused, “Interested in having sex with me. It’s been a while.”

Surprised but pleased, “Sure, in my room or yours?”

“Matters not. Let’s shower together I feel sweaty.”

“What about your ankle?”

“Sex won’t affect my ankle.”

“I mean standing in the shower.”

“Bring that little step stool you have for the kitchen. I’ll sit on that.”

“I think you should take a week off and let your ankle heal.”

“It’s not my ankle it’s my left knee. I feel that some cartilage has broken off. I should have arthroscopic surgery to clean it out but I can’t miss that much rehearsal. I’ll do it after the competition. I’ll take plenty of oxycodone with me.”

“That stuff scares me. It’s like morphine.”

“I’m afraid it’s the only way I’ll make it through the competition. I have a mild form of a genetic problem called osteogenesis imperfecta. It’s called brittle bone disease. My bones and cartilage break more easily than most peoples. I have been able to manage the disease by building up my muscles and constant stretching.”

“Shouldn’t you stop dancing?”

“Conditioning for dancing keeps the disease in check but you know I have not only broken an ankle twice but also my wrist. Now my knees are giving me problems. This may be my last competition but I will not stop dancing. There’s always cruise ship dancing.”

I sat listening but couldn’t take my eyes off of the bulge in his underpants. He said, “Let’s shower, have sex and I have something to show you.” I pulled him up and held his hand as he limped into the bathroom. I was naked first. I pulled his shirt over his head and slipped his underpants down to the floor. He sat on the stool I brought in from the kitchen. I couldn’t resist getting on my knees and giving him a good blow job as the warm water cascaded over us. I let his dick drop from my mouth and pulled him to his feet. I proceeded to wash him completely. He sat back down as I washed myself.

Once in bed it was clear he planned to be on the bottom. To me it didn’t matter since I wanted him however I could have him. He was a willing kisser but it was clear he wanted me to get on with the business at hand. He pulled his legs up exposing his wrinkled asshole. I smeared lube on me and him and positioned myself for entry. I slipped in and he winced but didn’t tell me to stop. I was so happy to be inside his warm velvety butt. I went slowly knowing I probably would explode at the slightest provocation. I was surprised when I felt him spraying between us without any verbal sounds. His climax caused me to fill his insides.

I lay on top of him not wanting our brief time together to end. He smiled and said, “Barry, that was really fun.” I agreed. Neither of us moved as I rolled onto my side of the bed. I reached over and turned off the bedside lamp. I heard the toilet flush sometime in the night and I suspected Barry was sending my cum down the drain. He didn’t say a word.

Sunday morning was cycling morning. We rode toward Curt and Chi’s condo and met them about halfway. It was a hot day but we rode the required two hours through the relatively quiet streets of Atlanta. When we were getting close to our house Anthony stopped and said. “Let’s go to our house.”

“We’re too hot and sweaty. We’ll come over later.”

“No come now. If you want to wear clothes we have something you can wear.”

Curt looked at Chi who just lifted his shoulders and eyebrows. Once inside we stripped and Anthony threw all our clothes in the washing machine and turned it on. “Your clothes will be clean and dry by the time you get ready to leave.”

I offered beer and iced tea as Chi and Curt stood with me in the kitchen. Once served we went into the small room we called our den. Looking at our two cute guests I couldn’t suppress my dick. They smiled and didn’t say anything. Anthony came into the room and looked at me, “Like what you see?” I felt myself blush. He playfully grabbed my penis and squeezed. Honestly, I was shocked but felt these were our friends and who cares.

Anthony sat in his favorite leather chair before he spoke, “I think we should celebrate Chi and Curt’s great win in the competition. We could go out to dinner or stay here and have sex together. No one spoke.

Chi chimed in, “How about sex and then go out to dinner?”

Curt smiled, “We would like to bottom for you since neither of us has ever had anything as big as you guys inside us. I bet it will hurt but we’re ready.”

Sounding clinical Anthony said, “I don’t want the sex thing to be between us as we go into the final stages of our preparation for Paris.”

“So this isn’t really about celebrating our win it’s about getting rid of sexual tension between us. I don’t really feel it myself but I’m not going deny what Curt said. Let’s get it on.”

“My sheets aren’t too clean.”

Anthony said, “Mine are clean enough.The four of us got up and went toward Anthony’s bedroom. He pulled the covers back and the Curt and Chi lay on their backs. Foreplay was short. Anthony lubed himself and put a condom on. Curt handed the lube and a condom to me. Anthony and I stood on the side of the bed as Curt and Chi held their legs up in the air. I concentrated on my target and slowly pushed on Chi asshole. When I popped in Chi called “Whoa, slow down.” I hadn’t moved but knew he needed to adjust. A similar sound emanated from Curt when Anthony’s substantial member entered him. The boys grabbed their respective wilting dicks to harden them. I was enjoying what I was doing and watched Anthony slide in and out before shifting his weight to the right leg. Before long there was white liquid inside and outside of us. Everyone was relaxed as we showered, dried and went to the living room to wait for the buzzer on the dryer to signal that clothes were dry.

The three of us were naked when Anthony came in last wearing underwear. He sat down and said, “Let’s decide who is doing what. Can everyone get three weeks off?”

“I can because school doesn’t start until after Labor Day.”

Chi said, “August is usually slow for me but since I work from home that shouldn’t be a problem.

Curt was quiet and said, “I don’t have three weeks paid vacation for another three years. I’ll tell my boss I will be gone for three weeks. If he wants me to quit I will.”

Anthony said, “OK, who wants to do travel arrangements?”I stuck my hand up. “Who wants to handle our wardrobe?” Curt and Chi raised their hands simultaneously. “OK, and I’ll handle ground transportation and logistics related to the competition since I have done this before.” None of us had been to Paris before so we decided to wait for sightseeing until after the competition. We would fly Saturday night and arrive Sunday morning two days before the start of the competition.

I didn’t say much about our travel plans except to confirm that I had our flight over reserved for Saturday night, August 4th. What I didn’t tell them was that I had made reservations on the Queen Mary II for our return on August 19 to New York. We would arrive back in Atlanta in exactly three weeks unless we decided to stay a night or two in New York. What I didn’t tell Anthony, Curt and Chi was that I was paying for the transatlantic crossing.

Model in blue satin shirt

In early June my mother called and I told her about our trip to Paris for the competition. Three days later a pink envelope was delivered to my mailbox. I recognized my mother’s handwriting but since I had just spoken to her I couldn’t figure out what she was sending. When I opened her letter I was shocked to find a $10,000 check made out to me. Mother’s note read, ‘Barry, I am so proud of you and wish you the very best in the Paris competition. I wish I could be there to watch you. When I told your grandmother about your trip she insisted that she help. I expect this is your inheritance but better you receive it while you can tell her all about it. Love Mom.’

About a week later Chi and Curt called and asked if they could come over with costume ideas. In our original discussion about costumes Anthony told us we should look coordinated, sexy and partners should look similar but not identical. Chi and Curt arrived Friday evening. Curt opened his carry pack and took out pages of pictures that they had printed off the internet. He laid the pictures on the dining table for us to see. He started, “Chi and I already have our Argentina tango costumes. Our regular Latin will be the same pants but with blue satin blouses and suspenders.” He had a picture of a model in the blue satin shirt he planned to buy.

Curt in his dance strap

Before we had further discussion Anthony brought out a big box filled with dance accessories. First, he handed each of us a dance strap which was like a jock except that there was only one middle strap up our ass crack. He insisted that we each try ours on to make sure it was tight but not uncomfortable. The three of us stripped off our clothes. Curt fished one out, tried it on and I snapped his picture as he smiled at me. The one I tried on felt funny with the strap running up my butt crack.

Anthony handed me a skin tight black, see-through shirt which buttoned in the crotch. I tried it on and liked the look. He said that the crotch snaps prevented the shirt from pulling out which he said definitely detracts from a performance. He said, “I have one exactly like yours for me. We will have the same black shirts and black full cut pants.”

Barry modeling his mesh shirt

“We need an accent like a colorful bow tie or a scarf.” He rummaged around in his box and took out two bow ties of multiple colors like the gay flag. Chi puzzled, “What do we wear for the open competition?” We stood around the table looking at pictures. Chi said, “What if I wear this see through black shirt with a white scarf and Curt wears a white see through without the scarf.”

I said, “Sounds sexy but will the scarf get in your way when you’re doing the quickstep spins?”

Anthony had been monitoring our diet so I wasn’t surprised when the buzzer went off and a delivery guy brought in our Mediterranean meal of squid, pasta salad and grilled vegetables. After dinner we still hadn’t decided what Chi and Curt were going to wear for the open competition. Anthony said, “You guys decide.” He continued, “We’ll pack four complete costumes in each of three different suitcases in case one of them gets lost.”

All four of us had fitted tuxedos so I said, “Guys as opposed to buying something different why don’t we take our tuxes as our backup costume. We could wear them at the gala after the competition.” I knew we would need them on our voyage back to the United States. That was agreeable to everyone. Chi and Curt stayed over. All four of us were comfortable going to bed and having some nocturnal fun.

We were ready to go to Paris.

The Competition

Internet information regarding the location of the competition helped as I made decisions about where we were going to stay in Paris. I found a hotel in our price range close to the dance competition venue - the sports complex Gymnase Japy in the 11th arrondissement. We would not be far from Notre Dame Cathedral. I reserved two rooms for one week at the Novetel Paris Gare de Lyon. After the competition we would move to the Best Western Le Patio Bastille in the 5th arrondissement. We would stay for four nights before traveling to Hamburg on August 16. None of the guys asked me about details of our travel plans except to confirm the time we were leaving Atlanta.

I found that one-way flights, if you are taking a cruise back to the United States, flights are cheaper if bought through the cruise line. I contacted Cunnard which operates the Queen Mary II. The reservation agent booked us on a non-stop Delta flight. I didn’t tell the guys what I was planning. Our conversations were focused our dance routines or what we wanted to see in Paris.

In the days before our departure I was aware that Anthony was taking, multiple pain pills each day. He said little about his pain and he danced as if nothing was wrong. Our dance routine for the paso dobles was energetic but we practiced it only once a night. The routine required several quick stops and dips that put significant stress on Anthony’s left knee. I suggested on several occasions we change the move. Our routine was dramatic and Anthony didn’t want to change. In those final days I saw Anthony grab his pill bottle too often but I didn’t say anything. I just worried.

The next four weeks were a blur. All we did was train, eat and sleep. We had specific routines for the Latin dances but would do the international dances free style since we didn’t know what music would be playing. On the Friday night before we were to fly to Paris, Darla, the owner of the studio, asked us to give a demonstration. She sent out notices to her classes and the room was filled. She made it clear that we were demonstrating and others were not to dance. One Hispanic couple came out onto the dance floor and Darla rushed to pull them back. They were miffed and walked out of the studio.

Chi, Curt, Anthony and I did four dances that she chose, except we told her the paso doble would not be one of the dances. We did not want to take a chance that Anthony would injure himself further. She selected music for the jive, rumba, tango and finally a Viennese waltz. We had an appreciative audience. Anthony and I were waiting for the tango music to begin.

We turned to see Chi and Curt barefoot getting in position. They had quickly changed out of their blue satin Latin shirts into white shirts. The sleeves were rolled up and suspenders held up their loose fitting pants. They moved slowly and seductively around the floor. The audience seemed hypnotized by their movement. When they finished there was silence as if no one wanted to disturb the mood. Finally, Darla started and Anthony and I followed with loud applause and hooting.

Our plane the next day was not until 7pm so we had all day to pack. Anthony continued his unusually gentle, loving attention to me. I was too busy to try to figure out why the change. Curt and Chi had laid out all the costumes on my bed. After assuring ourselves that we had forgotten any elements of a costume we put the four costumes into three different suitcases. As a precaution we carried our dancing shoes in our carryon bags. I had selected four seats in the middle section of the Airbus 330. I was hoping the fifth seat would remain open which happened even though the plane was quite full. We saw several guys from the Atlanta gay baseball and soccer teams on our plane. I saw a teacher from my school who introduced his boyfriend. They were on the volley ball team. I didn’t know the teacher was gay. After we had been served our meal Chi inquired about the details of our return flight. I pretended that I didn’t know immediately without getting my carryon bag down. He didn’t pursue his question but I knew I had to tell them soon.

Fortunately, the all luggage arrived in Paris. The four of us and our luggage fitted into one slightly oversized taxi. The sun was shining this warm morning. I showed the driver the address on the reservation form. Smiling he said, “Oui, oui.” The trip took almost forty-five minutes but we got to see many of the sites including the Eiffel Tower which we wanted to visit. Anthony held my hand the entire trip. We couldn’t look fast enough at one site or another.

After we checked in and showered we planned on having lunch. Since we sat up all night we decided to eat our lunch after two so we could take a three or four hour nap. At lunch I planned to share my plans for the rest of our time in France before Chi, Curt or Anthony got too curious. I wanted our focus to be on the competition not my mysterious plans. We ate at a small, quiet bistro in the basement of the hotel. We ordered salads and a bottle of white Boudreaux along with a bottle of sparkling water. After finishing our meal I said, “Guys, I have something to tell you.”

Chi smiled, “I knew you were not saying all you had in mind for our time in France.”

“You’re right and I hope you’ll agree. None of us have to be back in Atlanta until August 27, correct?” Shaking heads acknowledged my statement. “After the competition which I am sure we will win.” There was soft, nervous laughter. “Anyway, my plan has us staying in Paris region until August 16 and then traveling to Hamburg.” Eyebrows raised but no one said anything. They waited.

“Do we have enough money to do what you’ve planned?” Curt inquired.

“Let me finish,” I felt Anthony take my hand and gently squeeze it. I didn’t know what that meant. “We do and I will tell you how. After our time in Paris we will travel by train to Hamburg, Germany to board the Queen Mary II for a transatlantic crossing to New York City. We arrive on August 26 and will fly back to Atlanta that evening. Curt you will be back at work when you said you would be.”

“What the fuck?” Chi screeched. “We can’t afford that.”

“Yes, we can because my grandmother gave me $10,000 because she was so happy we were coming to the dance competition. I couldn’t think of a better way to continue dancing than to do it all the way across the Atlantic.”

Anthony smiled and spoke, “You truly are a romantic.” He reached across the table and kissed me. I wonderfully accepted his gift. There were plenty of questions but no objections. I could feel Anthony moving closer to me as we sat sipping the last of the wine. We got a map from the front desk and we left the hotel to explore the neighborhood. Anthony grabbed my hand and we walked together. Chi and Curt did the same. It was getting dark when we returned to the hotel. We decided to pass on dinner but sat in the hotel’s small bar and shared a bottle of red Boudreaux recommended by the bartender. It was smooth and warm which was like Anthony’s demeanor all afternoon.

Anthony before a mirror

Once in our room which was across the hall from Chi and Curt, Anthony was quiet. Uncharacteristically he pulled me into a moist, sensual kiss. I didn’t ask questions. He smiled as he unbuttoned my shirt and pulled my tee shirt off. I had slipped off my trainers as he undid my belt.

I was totally into what he was doing. Before I knew it my naked, gorgeous dance partner’s body was reflected in our mirror. We fell together onto our bed. Unlike our usual sex he was gentle, kissing every important part of my body. He surprised me when he suggested I be the receiver. I was fine and couldn’t wait. The lovemaking was wonderful. After our shower he pulled up the duvet over us and snuggled close to me. When morning came we were in the same position.

After a French breakfast of coffee, hard rolls, butter and jam we walked the three blocks to the Gymnase Japy. Monday, August 6 was set aside for practice but we decided we were simply going to check in and watch other couples. Anthony had decided that we were not going to compete at the ‘A’ level which he said was for couples who are almost professional. When we checked in both couples confirmed that we would be competing at the ‘B’ level which was one of the four proficiency levels. One of the volunteers recognized Anthony and questioned our decision, “Are you sure you shouldn’t be in the ‘A’ division?”

“Thank you but I think we are more comfortable at the ‘B’ level.” He smiled at the fellow. We turned and sat in the bleachers. Most of the practice was for the groups which was a separate competition I wasn’t aware of. We did see some remarkable couples doing Latin dances. I was getting more nervous. Chi and Curt sat quietly watching as the couples practiced. After almost an hour of watching and holding hands with Anthony there was an announcement in French followed by English.

Anthony said, “Five minutes of music for each of the internationals. Let’s go.”

“We don’t have our dancing shoes.”

“Yes we do.” As he lift his carry back onto the seat. He handed Curt and Chi socks and shoes first. Then he got my shoes out before putting on his own. We followed him to the floor where the couples were gathering. The floor was crowded so we couldn’t do all our regular moves. The first dance was the slow foxtrot, followed by the quickstep before finishing with the tango. The tango music was too slow for some of our moves. Rumba music started.

Chi said, “No waltz?”

Anthony said, “Only ‘A’ level does the Viennese waltz.”

“I want to change our level designation because I want to be able to do the waltz. That dance is one of our best.”

“Let’s discuss after we finish.” During the rumba I heard a cracking sound and Anthony winced. I suggested we stop. He agreed so we watched Chi and Curt. As we stood on the edge of the dance floor the man at the registration table Anthony approached us. He motioned for Anthony to step toward him. After a few minutes he came back to me.

“What’s up?”

“He said the committee feels we should be in the ‘A’ category.”

“I thought it was our choice what level we chose to dance?”

“It is but he and his judges think I should be competing at that level. It’s still our choice.”

Curt and Chi joined us. Curt said, “Saw that fellow speaking to you. Is there a problem?”

“No, he was encouraging us to change to ‘A’ level.”

Chi said, “I think we should. I was watching most of these couples and they seem like beginners. Anyway, I want to do the Viennese waltz which only the “A’s get to do.”

Anthony turned to me, “Barry, what do you think?”

“Well, I think we have a better chance of winning in the ‘B’ category but I will do whatever you guys want to do.” After a short discussion and it was decided to change to ‘A’. I rationalized that we were at the gay games to do the best we could and we would see what happened.

For lunch we decided to search for a French bistro which had been recommended by one of Curt’s associates. It took us an hour of walking to find Au Bon Accueil not far from the Eiffel Tower. The proprietors were a gay couple who welcomed us warmly before serving us. Our conversation focused mainly on costumes and who was responsible for what. We lingered for two hours speaking with our hosts before realizing it was past four and we planned to return to the Gymnase Japy for an informal reception since the grand opening parties for the 2018 Paris Gay Games had occurred before we arrived. We took the subway back and when we arrived perhaps 100 people were milling around holding beverages and speaking many different languages. Anthony approached a group of four men – two whites and two blacks. One of the black men warmly embraced Anthony who then introduced us to the fellow and his friends. It turned out that Anthony’s acquaintance and his white dance partner were there with their respective regular partners. The couple we met was competing at the ‘B’ level not the ‘A’ level. I was getting more nervous worrying my ability was not up to the ‘A’ level challenge.

Tuesday morning we showed up to standard dance competition. There were 24 couples in the ‘A’ division. We had to wait until the seniors and divisions “B, C and D” were completed. I got really nervous watching the ‘B’ contestants who were really good. No one couple stood out in all dances but several were elegant and dramatic. After each dance whether it was foxtrot, quick step, waltz or tango a group was identified who would go forward. I sat clutching Anthony’s hand. He remained calm and attentive. Finally, it was our turn. The gymnasium was crowded even though the dance floor was a big as two basketball courts. We nailed the quickstep and were a bit sloppy on the slow foxtrot which is the dance I like least. We came back with strong performances in the waltz. By this time I could tell Anthony was in real pain. We sat together with Chi and Curt as we waited for the call for the final dance the tango. Unfortunately when the finalists for the tango were announced, Chi and Curt were cut. They concurred that they had not done their best. I felt so bad because I knew they should be on the floor with us.

We started the stylized Viennese waltz as we always did by sensually approaching each other. Our expressions, as usual, were neutral but I could see the pain in his eyes. Miraculously, we made it from the quarter finals to the semi-finals and were one of the six couples competing for the gold, silver and bronze medals in the Viennese waltz. I was totally attentive Anthony’s signals and almost didn’t hear with the music stopped. We knew we had done well.

He almost limped back the dressing room to wait for the results. After what seemed like forever before the winning couples for each dance category were called. Curt and Chi were called out three times for quickstep, foxtrot and waltz. They won the silver medals for all three steps. We were a finalist in every dance and won gold for our Viennese waltz and gold for the quickstep.

Finally, the announcer spoke “Madames et Messieurs, Puis-je avoir votre attention s'il vous plaît. Les gagnants son la médaille de bronze Barry Carpenter and Anthony Papazolli.” The announcer then spoke in English as Anthony continued squeezing my hand as we walked toward the judges when the best overall dancers were announced. We were followed by silver medal winners, a stern faced Japanese couple whose expression suggested they had been cheated. The gold medal went to a British couple who were remarkable and elegant. I was still in a state of shock that we had come this far. We were the bronze medal winners at the 2018 Gay Games.

We weren’t done we because we had to compete in the International 10 and the Argentina tango tomorrow. Chi and Curt were really disappointed so Anthony spent time with some suggestions about their waltzing. They listened intensely. We didn’t finish dinner until 10pm.

I slept fitfully and was up showering and shaving by 7:30. As it turned out this was not meant to be our day. Anthony and I didn’t make it out of the quarter finals in any dance except the waltz and rumba. Chi and Curt were steaming. For the Latin dances they were dancing the best I had ever seen them dance. They made it to the finals for every Latin dance and won the silver medal for their overall dancing. That wasn’t the best part. There were only twelve couples in the finals for separate category of Argentina tango. For reasons not explained to the audience the group was split randomly in groups of six. It was explained that both cohorts would be judged together. We suspected we knew what Curt and Chi were going to do. Instead of the flashy, satin shirts they wore for the Latin competition, they quickly changed and wore exactly what they wore at Darla’s studio for our exhibition. Dressed in their loose white shirts, black suspenders holding up their black trousers they came out barefooted. I thought having no shoes might get them disqualified.

As they started there was no signal from the judges that there was a problem. Their dance was beyond magical as Curt would lower Chi to floor and then bring him up as they squeezed together. Their one hundred seconds flew by. I held my breath the entire time. The crowd enthusiastically applauded them even though there were five other couples on the floor. Since the other cohort had already danced it was only moments before the chief judge announced that Chi and Curt won the gold medal for their Argentina tango. The contestants to a person came up to congratulate them.

We went immediately into the milonga party. The music quickened and the dance floor filled with eager guests and contestants who wanted to dance. The Latin music continued. The single women were anxious to dance not only with Curt but also Chi, Anthony and myself. I tried to lead but really couldn’t. We had come to do what we, in our wildest imagination, didn’t think we could do. I was ecstatic and texted my grandmother the news. We were finished except for the gala dance party Friday night. We finally could become spectators. We had heard that the Atlanta volleyball team was in the finals on Friday afternoon. We sprung for the 40 Euro tickets to watch my teacher friend and his teammates play for a medal. Unfortunately, they were defeated in the semi-finals by the San Diego team which was amazing.

We decided not to attend the closing ceremonies but started our four day marathon site seeing of Paris and Versailles. Two of the afternoons Anthony begged off but encouraged the three of us to continue until we thought our legs were going to fall off. When Anthony and I were together he was as loving a gentle a person. I didn’t think I could love again after Eric left me but I found out I could.

Monday afternoon Curt and Chi joined us for a drink before we went out to dinner. Curt spoke first, “You guys won’t believe what happened!” Our email and Whatsup accounts have gone crazy with congratulations. I didn’t realize anyone knew where we were or what we were doing.”

“What happened?”

“Our picture appeared on the front of the sports page of the Atlanta Constitution announcing our gold medals at the gay games. They used a picture of us dancing the Argentina tango. We must have received a hundred messages even from Chi’s mother who didn’t know he was gay.”

I smiled, “Well that’s one way to tell your parents.”

“Her message was so nice. She seemed OK.”

Curt said, “A reporter texted us and wants to know if there are other winners from Atlanta. He wants to write a story about us.”

Our last evening in Paris was capped off by a walk under the Eiffel Tower which was lighted like a rainbow flag before heading back to the hotel to prepare for our train trip to Hamburg. As planned we arrived in plenty of time to check in for our cruise. We went to our adjoining rooms which we had the room attendant join into one by adjusting our doors. We dressed casually for dinner and chose to eat in one of the relaxed buffets.

The Queen’s Ballroom

We decided to check out the Queen’s Ballroom and found many proficient older ballroom dancers. The ballroom had a band stand at one end and cocktail tables surrounding the large elegantly appointed room. We were pleased that the dance floor was wood making our stylized dancing easier.

We planned to dance two nights later on the first formal dancing night called the “Royal Dance.” At the pool the next afternoon we recognized two other couples- one male and one female- who had been in the dance competition. They were from the New York area and didn’t know each other. I approached each couple and told them of our plan. Both couples agreed to delay dancing in the ballroom for one more night. We did meet the entire group in the cocktail lounge for an LGBT gathering which included, at least, ten other gay couples and a few singles.

On the first night out of Southampton we dressed in tuxedos as was the expected dress code for the ballroom. We agreed to meet our fellow competitors in the ballroom at 9:45 anticipating that most of the older couples would have danced earlier and gone to bed. Our cue to come to the dance floor was the first waltz which happened to be ‘Can I Have This Dance’. The floor was crowded but not so much that we couldn’t move freely. The four couples began to dance. Most of the other dancers hesitated and a few stopped to watch our choreographed moves. There was the appropriate, polite applause at the end of the dance. All four couples danced every dance until the set was over at 10:30. Anthony did not hesitate so I presumed his knee wasn’t hurting too much.

When we met for cocktails the next evening I suggested that we dance with each other but resist dancing with the unaccompanied women who would be looking for a young dance partner. Everyone agreed but we also agreed we didn’t want to be rude. The next night Curt, Chi, Anthony and I decided to dance the earlier set and eat afterward. The couples we found were older and slower but were generally gracious. A few older men seemed to try to intentionally block our way. We maneuvered around them without any collisions.

The next evening the theme was black and white. We had our tango costumes so were ready. We took a table with Curt and Chi on the edge of the dance floor. Anthony was reluctant to dance too much and I didn’t push. I wanted him to relax. He seemed to be enjoying our romantic experience. That night several other same sex couples danced. They were not as good as we were but we were pleased to have them as company.

When we returned to our cabin we had loving, gentle sex. Our room was open to Chi and Curt’’s and modesty was not a concern. At lunch the following day Anthony seemed different. I wasn’t sure if he was in pain or something else was bothering him. He was quiet while we ate. He surprised me when he said, “Barry, I have to be honest and tell you I really like you. I was hesitant to become too close because I thought it would negatively affect our dancing. It’s been wonderful hasn’t it.”

Not wanting to answer too fast I said stiffly, “Yes, I, too, enjoy our relationship. That’s what’s on your mind?”

“Well, no, to be honest, when we get back to Atlanta I have to do something about my knees. I am afraid I’m almost addicted to the pain pills. I can’t let that happen but I really can’t walk or dance without them.”

“I am concerned, as well.”

“I know it will take major surgery to get the problem fixed. I suspect the recovery will be lengthy.” He hesitated, “I have decided to go home to Alabama to have the surgery.”

My heart quickened and my breathing got louder. “Anthony, you don’t have to do that. We can figure something out.”

“No, Barry, it’s better. You have your teaching and I don’t want to be a burden.”

“You wouldn’t be, really.”

“Enough, let’s enjoy the rest of this magnificent trip you planned. I am having a wonderful, romantic time with you, Curt and Chi. When we get home I will help you find another dance partner. I want you to continue dancing.”

Feeling down, but not wanting to show it I said, “We’ll see.” We pushed back from the table and walked hand-in-hand to our cabin. We undressed and put on swimming suits to go find a whirling hot tub which relaxed Anthony’s muscles. As we sat in the hot, bubbling water I decided I wasn’t going to let Anthony’s news ruin the rest of my trip.

The final formal night—“Big Band Night”—all three of the dance sets saw many dancers. Our four couples sat together near the dance floor and intermittently danced. Unknown to me Curt had asked the bandmaster to play an Argentine tango. Toward the end of their set the music began and Curt and Chi removed their jackets and shoes and socks. They repeated their award winning performance. When the music concluded the cruise director took the microphone and announced that Curt and Chi had recently won gold medal at the International Gay dance competition. There was loud, genuine applause. Then he announced that four couples had competed and he welcomed us onto the floor for a Viennese waltz. We were joined by many smiling couples. At the end of the dance Anthony whispered in my ear, “Barry, That was my last dance, I can’t continue.” We walked slowly off the floor holding hands.

Author’s note: My story is completely fictional but was inspired by the dance competition that took place in Paris during the August, 2018 Gay Games. The author retains all rights to the story. It is intended for the pleasure of the reader and can be shared with others. Please let me know if you like, or didn’t like, the story at I have other stories posted on AwesomeDude, including an essay and short story about dance called “The Photograph.”

I want to thank Nigel Gordon for proofreading the story and making important comments about the text. All photographs were found on the internet. The photographs by Miami-based professional photographer David Vance are used with his written permission. I would be happy to give credit to other photographers if someone knows who took certain pictures.