Remembering Randy Forrester

- August 16, 2012

"One person stood out far and above the average dancer in almost every way"

I remember when we first started to take an interest in the two step, oh about 10 years ago, which makes us newbies by most Santa Fe standards.  We had known Barbara Hester for some time, as she and Archie West did exhibition dancing for many years with Mansi Kern, my mother and longtime Santa Fe musician and dancer.  I played the guitar for the gigs at Las Golondrinas, Santa Fe Fiesta and various other venues.  Barbara  kept telling us, over the years, “Hey you two, you could really have fun dancing with us at Rodeo Nights or Rancho Encantado or La Fonda with Bill Hearne …”  and various other places that she would name year after year.  Well finally we started following South By Southwest and made a point of going to their gigs at the Paramount or Club West.  We didn’t know a thing about how to do the steps and I remember very vividly sitting there and staring at the dancers as they passed by in their counterclockwise drift and trying to figure out what the heck they were doing.  Some people really stood out as advanced, interesting and exciting and so I got a feeling for those people right away.  Others smiled at us and were pleasant as we stumbled around the dance floor, like Diann Coulson, preferring the positive approach. 

One person stood out far and above the average dancer in almost every way.  I was sitting on a bank of chairs and there was this person who I finally got the courage and decided to ask, “what is the step?”   He said, right off, “ it’s long, long, short, short.”  And he offered to show Belle and so they danced a dance and then he turned her over to me.  To make a long story short, we kept dancing and I finally got the basic hang of it, sorta, and I would whisper in her ear the mantra, “long, long, short short; long, long, short, short…..” for months.   We were hooked!! 

Now this fella was the wildest dancer in the crowd and he always had a live wire beauty under arm and even some novices who had been captured by his trance and challenge and he would strut his stuff and show off theirs, which consisted of making the woman look great and looking pretty darned good himself.  There were moves that defied the norm and set the standards at the same time and he would kneel and hold the woman on his knee, then lead her around him as he stayed in that posture,  he would stomp like a bull, he would grin from ear to ear and he would hold one arm behind his back and wow us all and, more often than not, there would be  extraordinary dips to beat the band and make us all blush. 

He was not tall, dark and handsome except in his  deep soul.  His glasses glinted under the party lights, his arms stuck out of sleeveless shirts of all sorts (which he often put on during a break; doffing his white cowboy shirt and his hat), his baldness was apparent and his height not impressive…..but, watch out,  folks that was the legendary  Randy Forrester, who I could never, ever possibly forget.

-Randy died a few days ago, this Monday,  having danced up a storm, the last time I saw him,  either at the Santa Fe Bandstand to South by Southwest or Bill Hearne  or at the Legal Tender after the Galisteo Rodeo, to Cathy Faber’s band, not quite sure which.  I’m sure “the dancers” will let me know where is last dance was……