I first met my good friends Jim and Morgan Olson in July 1996. In April 1997 Jim Olson introduced us to his wife’s annual birthday present, Morgan’s Birthday Dance. Each of their Fountainheads had a large dance floor with mirrors, high ceilings, was sound-balanced, and had disco and mood lights so it was held there or occasionally at a larger floor although the attendance was till kept small. Twenty-four people max at Fountainhead or thirty if elsewhere. Jim and Morgan also had the hipist music selection. Selection, not collection, Jim Olson pointed out. Whether it was jazz, classical or here, ballroom dance music, they had it. For Morgan’s Birthday Dance, Jim Olson sent out invites stating no presents, just three hours of good dancing with formal attire. And that’s exactly what happened each April from April 1997 to April 2006. It was quite an exclusive little annual social event. I certainly miss it. The men in tuxedoes and their Mary Janes. The ladies in long ball gowns of all colors. Faux furs. Rubies, diamonds, emeralds and other jewels glittered.
Morgan’s Birthday Dance was always the second Saturday each April. The Gold Cats were put into the bedroom. Starting at 5 pm promptly, there was thirty minutes of socializing in their sumptuous backyard with the music of Miles Davis or Dizzy Gillespie for background. The spring bulbs were admired. So were the gowns. People looked around to see who had been invited this year. A ballroom dance DVD such as Shall We Dance, Swing Kids, or Dance With Me would be on their big screen. The ceiling fans were on low and they lazily turned providing most welcome sensuous wafting breezes through men’s hair and across ladies exposed bosoms.
The drapes in Fountainhead’s ballroom were closed. At 5:30, there would be fifty minutes of each of the ballroom dances. The music started out energetic. At 6:20, there was a ten-minute socializing break. We’d plop down at the bar for water or outside for resting. Dancing resumed at 6:30 for another fifty minutes. At 7:20, there was a ten-minute socializing break. Dancing resumed at 7:30 for another fifty minutes. The music was moving from the energetic to more romantically slow. At 8:20, there was a ten-minute socializing break.
Although Jim Olson always was adamant about no presents, inevitably, one would bring wine, another weed and another Brach’s Jelly Beans, the only candy Morgan Olson would eat – everyone eats chocolate. But real chocolate is not candy. So this 8:20 break was the concession to some cellared wine quaffed and some weed discretely bonged outside. Dancing resumed at 8:30 for another thirty minutes of all very romantic music. Slow Bolero, West Coast Swing, Night-Club 2-Step, Waltz and Rumba is heavenly. At 9 pm the dance was sadly over until the next year. Each year Jim Olson put on and hosted Morgan’s Birthday Dance. Each year it was beautiful, elegant, sensuous, classy, romantic, magical, and fun. I remember a lot of smiling and laughing each year at their dances. Now that’s a birthday party.
Jim and Morgan Olson, the personification of classic chic and kindness, showed me that just because somebody always doesn’t love one the way we want them to doesn’t mean they don’t love us the best they can and with all that they have. There's power in redemption and rehabilitation.
The couple I knew was what this photo shows: an old happily married couple.