Retirement - Gangster Style

Dance Halls

A Social Connection
Romance — Gangster Style

News Flash!
Living Room Instruction

Dance Halls
Real Teachers

Gangsters, at least as we know them from the media, were social people. They loved a good party, with the latest tunes and a lively crowd.

Capturing the gangster spirit requires that you find social opportunities on your gaming ventures. Sitting in the sports book studying the racing form for ten hours is not enough. Just getting out is not enough. You need social contact.

And no, saying, "Please pass the nuts," at the Saddle-Me-Up Bar and Grill doesn't count.

A Social Connection

You already have a social scene available anywhere they play music — by dancing.

Getting out on the dance floor lightens the mood. It stirs a festive spirit and opens another side of your abilities. A few steps to Sinatra sends out the message, "This person isn't as boring as he looked from the distance."

Your dance steps can vastly improve your ability to connect with others.


Kathy said, "A lot of us were alone on the three day trip. I came for the horse racing. When that guy asked Mary to dance, he looked a lot more interesting than he did on the bus. It's not like anything was going to happen, but he now had a certain pizzazz that I wanted to be part of."

Romance — Gangster Style

The old gangsters knew how to stir romance. They had diamonds and flashy cars. Flowers and evening gowns completed the image.

But genuine romance is more complex than a box of chocolates and a dozen roses. It's about sharing adventures and excitement. Dancing is one example. There's something about moving together, in tune with the music's rhythm, that sets the mood.

If you're already involved with someone, dancing on a road trip offers a chance to say, "You're part of this adventure. Enjoy it with me."

The message is also part of the romantic code. The words, "Care to dance?" brings a gleam to your eye and lightness to your step. It's primitive; it's about connecting at a deeper level.

News Flash!

News flash: Shuffle, shuffle, turn...shuffle, shuffle, not Gangster Style dancing. You can't be a mope.


Eddy protested, "Here I am, willing to get up on the dance floor, where I'm definitely not comfortable, and you're saying that's not good enough. Baloney!

Granted, any dance attempts are better than sitting on the sidelines. So, point taken.

I know, however, how much I learned about my poker game with just a little reading. After just a few chapters, I was aware of concepts that I never knew existed.

In fact, after three days of poker study, I looked back and was embarrassed at my previous understanding.

Learning to dance is like that. It requires a little study. With just a few hours of attention to your dancing, it's possible to go from small town mope to gangster smooth very quickly.

What's quickly? I'd say four practice sessions with a good video instruction tape. Figure each session is fifteen minutes. That's pretty fast.

Instructional tapes lay out essential moves.

  • Learn To Swing Dance by Chris Reilly. Studio: Golden Treasures, 2003. * Beginning to intermediate.
  • An Introduction to 6-Count Swing Studio: Big City Swing, 2003. * Excellent beginning instruction.

  • Living Room Instruction

    I'm not going to let you stumble through this dance instruction alone (no pun intended).

    Here's the first difficulty. Most dance and athletic coaches are horrible teachers. The problem stems from their knowledge. They know too much; they understand the moves too well.

    Typical instructors can't recall all the little moves they missed in their first attempts to learn. All they see now are the grand moves. In dance, they now focus on step, over step, slide, and twirl. They've forgotten that a single move might be a hundred shifts for a beginner.

    Unfortunately, our minds and bodies are programmed to learn at a certain rate. If you exceed that rate, you shift into overload. Learning stops in overload.

    If you've ever had the sense of blanking out when listening to a teacher's fact-filled lecture, you know the feeling of overload. If, in the middle of your presentation, you saw a room of glazed-over expressions, you've put people into overload.

    Out of Overload

    There is a way out. Here's the exercise:

    Watch the dance video in your living room. Go back to the first step. Stop the tape and repeat the move. Repeat that single move until you absolutely have it down.

    If it takes all day, that's fine. It's not just a single step. You're not a dance professional. For your mind and body, it's a lot of new moving parts.


    Bob said, "I got the tape and tried to work through it. I was stumbling around. My wife, who was initially very enthused, started to get irritated. We agreed to a break.

    Later, I watched this "rock step" section alone. I focused on learning that one move. About ten times through the day, I'd do the "rock step." In my office, cleaning up in the shop...wherever I could.

    That evening, I got it. I was in the basement, and as I started practicing the "rock step" it was there. I had the move.

    The next day we ran the tape and practice went amazingly well. We were able to step through the entire movement without crashing into each other.

    Again, breaking out of overload involves separating and isolating the moves. Repeat each one until it's second nature.

    Note: For more discussion on overload, the online book An Unfair Advantage covers the issue in a sports context. The online book Out of Overload looks at overload in a technical business environment.

    Dance Halls

    Unfortunately, the dance halls of the golden gangster days aren't as common today. For the same effect, you need to find more regular venues.

    What venues?

    In a Casino town, most establishments have a lounge. Many have a small dance floor. That's enough. Remember, you're looking for a bit of romance, not a crowded sports event.

    When the band hits a good tune, get up. Put your moves to work. Two dances are the minimum for any respectable gangster.

    Some road trips put you in a quiet town. In that case, a local tavern will suffice. Feed the jukebox and get in your two-dance minimum.

    Real Teachers

    Once you gain confidence in your steps, it's time to polish them. Home study is the best way to begin, but for true gangster level style, you need polish.

    For each road trip, identify dance instruction classes near your hotel. Most towns have dance studios.

    Try to schedule a dance class for each trip. Since you only pass through occasionally, a private lesson might be best. Pick a dance you've's never good to be a complete klutz.

    The first class will be the hardest, but the dance studio will add a dimension to your romantic side. Also, with dance class under your belt, you've earned two afternoons at the racetrack.

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