The Spring Dance
There was a great turnout for this year’s Spring Dance at Fennington Manor School. Fifty odd girls dressed in colourful gowns, hair arranged differently, faces made up, all smiling (even if shyly) and some thirty boys, deceiving the public into thinking they were pleasant young gentlemen in their black or grey suits, shoes polished to a gleam, wide grins on their faces as they tried to eye up the ‘ladies’ inconspicuously. Almost everyone over the age of eighteen held a glass of wine or champagne - this was the sophisticated party of the year - while the rest drank from bottles of J2O or glasses of orange or apple juice, or water. Everyone milled around on the lawn before the east face of the manor which lent its name to the school, waiting for the music to begin, standing alone or chatting amiably amongst each other with trimly dressed staff as onlookers.
On the grass bank which fell away from Fennington Manor stood a white gazebo. Underneath, seated at a table, were the organisers: Mrs Finney, History teacher and head of the Social Events Society, Mr Hamley, runner of the Charitable Causes Group (the CCG for short) and upper sixth former, Helen Haymar, who was a member of both the clubs mentioned. On the table was a bucket for donations - the money from this year’s Spring Dance would be going to Teenage Cancer Trust - and a megaphone so that announcements could be heard clearly over the noise of the event. On the south side of the gazebo was the DJ, ready to start the music at Mr Hamely’s signal. On the north side was the tent where pupils ticked off their names on a list as they arrived, either dropped off by parents or having driven themselves and parked their cars in the parking lot in front of the manor’s west face.
By seven o’clock everyone was present. As the local church bells began to toll the hour, Mr Hamley stood up and picked up the megaphone. Switching it on, he said to the attendees, “Good evening and welcome to the 2011 Fennington Manor School Spring Dance. I hope everyone has a good time.
“To make that possible, would you all please follow a few simple rules that will keep people safe and won’t spoil the party for everyone else.
“One, no drinking for anyone below Upper Sixth. The teachers at the drinks table know what year-group you’re in so there’s no point trying to ask for alcohol if you’re not allowed it.
“Two, I wouldn’t expect it of the students anyway but absolutely no drugs. If you have them, you are breaking the law and the responsibility falls out of the teachers’ hands and into the police’s. I’m sure that none of you wants to face that sort of punishment.
“Three, no violence or bullying. It won’t be tolerated. You are here to have fun, not to fight with each other. Fennington prides itself on the happy atmosphere of the school community. If you are caught up with any unacceptable behaviour, you’ll be sent home.
“Those are the rules. Black and white. If you are conducting yourself inappropriately, you are conducting yourself inappropriately. For your sake, as well as the sake of your peers and the staff, I hope you take heed of my words.
“Before I allow the D.J., Mr Tompelson from Cambridge, to start the music, I believe Mrs Finney has something to tell you.”
Mrs Finney smiled and stood up, taking the megaphone from her colleague. He sat down and watched her, smiling as well.
“As you all know, one of the ways in which we are raising money tonight is through the Mysterious Partner scheme. The names of five girls and five boys have been submitted to me and each must spend at least half an hour of the night in each other’s company - for sporting purposes.” Mrs Finney produced a tattered-looking bowler hat with pink and blue strips of paper inside.
She pulled one of each colour out and unfolded them, reading out the names: “Marissa Turny and Evan Sarry.”
A not-especially-tall sixth former with long brown curls, blue eyes and freckles on her cheek looked amazed, while somewhere else in the crowd, a broad-shouldered young man with blonde hair and blue eyes in the same year looked interested.
Mrs Finney put the names on the table and reached for two more.
“Sammy Dapple and Ray Carin.”
A tall, slender girl with long auburn waves looked shocked and immediately shot accusing looks at her friends who were failing in hiding their sniggers and a boy with black hair and brown eyes grinned.
Mrs Finney repeated the process another three times and then called the Mysterious Partner pairs to the front. Sammy Dapple walked rather reluctantly and Marissa Turny looked like she was on the brink of fainting but everyone reached the front and Mrs Finney handed them watches so they could time this fun little game. As the five sets of pairs walked away from the gazebo, Mrs Finney sat down, laying the megaphone on the table and Mr Hamley gave the signal for the D.J. to begin.
No one could guess that the fun little game would turn out to be not so little for two of the pairs... And love doesn’t even need the encouragement of a Mysterious Partner scheme, ... does it now?