Dance Off Collection

Written by Charli Mills

Charli Mills, a born buckaroo, makes literary art accessible at CarrotRanch.com. She writes about the veteran spouse experience and women forgotten to history.

January 9, 2024

Welcome to Carrot Ranch Literary Community where creative writers from around the world and across genres gather to write 99-word stories. A collection of prompted 99-word stories reads like literary anthropology. Diverse perspectives become part of a collaboration.

We welcome encouraging comments. You can follow writers who link their blogs or social media.

Those published at Carrot Ranch are The Congress of Rough Writers.


Dance-off by Ladyleemanila

Much ado about everything
In the city that dance and sing
The end of the competition, a dance-off
On the dusty road we sigh
Stifle our curiosity
As we look outside the window
And everyone’s business
Greeting each other with yo
Much ado about anything
Under the sun so charming
Flying off to somewhere exotic
Floating like a feather
Doesn’t make sense at all
Doesn’t matter, too
As long as you’re with me
And we drink our cofee brew
Much ado about nothing
It started well, don’t know the end
Insecurities of the inexperienced
Perhaps one day we learn

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And the Crown Goes To… by Reena Saxena

The Maharani graciously announces the name of the winner, who happens to be a commoner.

A princess from another kingdom occupies the runner-up slot along with another plebeian.

The puppeteer has used the skills of a chess master to get the vote-bank arithmetic right. There is no choice, especially when national elections are around the corner.

The masses celebrate because the winner has risen from grassroots to Chief Minister of a State and they see an empathetic ruler.

Royalty loses steam in the dance-off, as public admiration and media hype are not considered enough. They need to rule votes.

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Dance-Marathon-Armageddon by Bill Engleson

It’s a square dance dream.
It must be!

“Do-si-do your partners.
Swinging that wild thing.
Hitching up your drawers.
Mooning’s not our thing.”

“Whoa. Where the heck is this going?”

“We’re off to see the King,
dancing in the round,
mincing with the meat,
grinding round of ground.”

Crikey, this is weird!

“The music just won’t stop,
so, I plug my ears,
The King’ll chop the heads
of all the little dears.”

He’s a cruel King.
Of that there is no doubt.
No lions, just a sharp ax.
Heads will roll about.

It’s just a square dance, dream.
Right?

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Dancin’ at the Swim-Gym by JulesPaige

I’ve attempted to dance at weddings, I even went (unwillingly) to my Senior Prom. Word dancing is more my thing. I have enjoyed watching some dancing, like in the King and I, or in other plays, shows or movies.

Just last week for the first time, I watched “It’s a Wonderful Life” (the old version). I had wondered about this really cool dance party – some pranksters pushed a button and the gym floors separated exposing a swimming pool. A wonderful feat of engineering for the 1940’s. Turns out it was filmed at a real highschool that still exists!

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The Ultimate Test by Geoff Le Pard

Dancing in Little Tittweaking is a crime hotbed. Dance troupes fight for supremacy, every Saturday night. Recently a random shooting incident led to an especially fast quickstep as the gunman sought to escape the police. Poisoning is common, the aim being to disable the opposition through virulent doses of the foxtrots. Matters came to a head, when Sam Baa complained about receiving a badly timed black bottom at the Rum Bar, run by Vee Eneez-Waltzer, the local brothel’s ‘Bossa Nova’. In local parlance, Sam ‘danced off’, having been found at the bottom of the Light Fantastic the next day.

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WWJD? by Liz Husebye Hartmann

“I want it!”
“You got it last Christmas. This one’s mine, Bitch!”
“Come and get it, Loser!”
Gramma cradled her prize fruitcake to her breast, regretting the weary day she’d announced she’d be baking only one a year. Five years later, and the twins, Jacque and Jill, had yet to find a peaceful way to resolve their differences. Gramma shook her head sorrowfully.
Nobody else in the family wanted to be responsible for her secret recipe. God knows what would happen if she just stopped altogether!
“Enough!” roared Katie, the youngest there. “Yer killin’ Gramma! Time for a dance-off!”

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The Dance by Margaret G. Hanna

The town hall was no castle ballroom, and she was no princess (but neither was I Prince Charming). And yet, I couldn’t stop looking at her. I had to meet her.
She was no pushover. I asked her three times to dance before her sister (I later learned) scolded her, “Oh, go on, Mary. Take pity on the poor sod.”
She scowled. “Fine!”
One dance – a waltz – became a second (a polka) and a third (another waltz). But then I got drunk and in a fight. I thought I’d ruined my chances.
No. A year later, we were married.

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‘Pas de Duel’ by E.A. Colquitt

Sir Codger de Roverley had thrown Baron Schwarzbecken the proverbial gauntlet. His chosen challenge was… more of a silken glove, as it transpired.

Whispers whirled like winter winds around the castle: ‘Dance-off? He wants to duel by dance-off?’

‘Oh, indeed. Sir Codger was most insistent,’ confirmed Frá Scythe, the Master of the Revels. ‘Their seconds shall be their dance partners.’

The first round brought a fiendish fleckerl. When it was over, Sir Codger’s body had certainly stopped spinning… the duelling floor, however, had not.

‘I yield,’ was all he could manage. He threw up over the Baron’s shining shoes.

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Coatroom Dance by Michael Fishman

When the music started Teddy shuffled along the wall and slipped into the coatroom. He watched the dancers and dared to imagine.

He moved his body to the music.

Alisa backed away from her friends when the music started and walked to the coatroom. She watched the dancers and dared to dream.

She moved her body to the music.

Chance brought them near, however something greater brought them together. Seeing each other, Alisa and Teddy didn’t shrink away in fear, but drew together. Eyes locked, unshy, their fingers touched, and they smiled.

The pair moved together to the music.

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Dance of Destiny by D. Avery

Destiny Doll and G.I. Joe looked on as Marlie and Tommy dug and shaped snow.

“No. It’s not a snow fort, Tommy. It’s a castle.”

“Whatever. I’ll dig a moat, build ramparts. No enemies will take our castle!”

“No, Tommy, it’s not that kind of castle. Everyone’s welcome. What we need is a great room.”

“What’s so great about this room?”

“A very large room where all the people come to dance.”

“Dance? Gee whiz, Marlie, what about knights, fighting and jousting, and all that?”

“Well, we could have a competition.”

“Yeah!”

“A dance-off! All the realm’s invited!”

“Ugh.”

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Busting Nick’s Chops, Again by D. Avery

Marge brought beers to the gang’s table. Nick sat with his heavily cast leg propped on a chair.
“Thanks, Marge. I’m getting around better but looks like I won’t be dancing for a while. I’m sidelined, along with Ilene.”
“You know, Nick, I used to dance competitively.”
“Really, Ilene?”
“Yeah, up until the tragic dance-off accident that took my leg… Danced with a big strong fella called Moose. It was a new venue for us but we went with our signature move, him holding me overhead, one leg gracefully extended… Never saw the ceiling fan until— chop-chop!”
“Ew. Really?”

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She’s Got the Beat by Sue Spitulnik

Have you ever been on a music cruise? I highly recommend going after experiencing one with my husband. There were at least three active stages with music from noon to midnight and there were so many people dancing it looked like a dance-off. Funny thing, there was this one lady, wearing layers of soft flowing fabrics in varied colors. She was always off to one side, alone, swiveling her body and waving her arms more like she was pretending to fly, but never in time to the music. We’re still trying to imagine what internal beat she was feeling.

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Addicted to Dance (Part 1) by Ann Edall-Robson


The date had been circled on the calendar for days. He knew when he’d first danced with her he would not be happy until they partnered again. Smitten with her long legs and brown eyes, he remembered her tiny shiver when he caressed her neck with his hand. And now, here they were…She stood still waiting for him to position himself so their dance could start. With perfect timing, the performance began, spurring, legs kicking high, symmetry in motion. Their eight-second dance ends. They’ll partner again when the next luck of the draw is in their favour.

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Until We Dance Again (Part 2) by Ann Edall-Robson

It is the last night of dancing in this town. The partners they’ve assigned me over the past week have been mediocre, to say the least. They’ve had lots of try, but only basic steps over and over. Tonight will be different. I’ve heard about this partner. Professional and not afraid to take a chance. Willing to move with the kicks, dips and dives. The window is short for us to dance classy and sassy. When the eight-second buzzer sounds we will see what kind of a partner he is. Money or mud? Until we dance again, cowboy.

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The Sword Dance by Nancy Brady

The Highland dancers were practicing for the Scottish Games. The youngest to the experienced dancers danced the Sword Dance.

The dancers crossed their two swords. Bowing, the music began; the dancers began the intricate steps around the swords, keeping time with the music. The dancers breathed a sigh of relief when the music ended, bowing again.

April and Dean weren’t winded, however. The pair faced off; the routine began, but the music continued, speeding up until they were a blur. Neither touched the swords, nor gave way until sweat running down their faces, Dean stopped. April finished the dance.

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A Regret by Kerry E.B. Black

He struck an imposing figure, tall, framed by sunlight which set the feathers in his bustle and hairpiece ablaze while hiding his black and white painted face. A hint of teeth indicated a smile of invitation. His shadowed eyes sparked with amusement, a whiff of campfires his cologne.

He reached for me, but I shook my head. No, I couldn’t possibly. Although the steps were simple, I worried I’d trip or do something wrong in front of the crowd watching the Pow Wow performances.

He shrugged and collected a different spectator who giggled and joined him.

They danced beautifully.

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Dance-Off?(Part 1) by D. Avery

Their meals had just arrived when Tom and his dad spied a young cowboy in a flashy shirt and tight jeans, dancing by himself, for himself, his gold stilettos glimmering stars across the scarred tavern floor. Prince, their hired hand.

Blushing, Tom looked away until, hearing the abrupt scrape of his dad’s chair, he turned back in alarm. “Dad, don’t!”

But Tom’s dad had rushed to restrain an assailant.

“No more, Clem,” his dad warned. Clem stalked off. “Why’d you have to dance like that, Prince?”

Prince got up, grinning through bloodied lips. “I don’t dance, Boss; I prance.”

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Stepping Up, Stepping Out (Part 2) by D. Avery

“Look, T.J. says you’re a topnotch ranch hand, but sure seems like you could save yourself a lot of aggravation by not dancing in sparkly lady’s shoes.”

Clem had brought his beer to the table where Prince now sat with Tom and his father.

“It’s how I practice for rodeo. I bet you can’t go eight seconds in these shoes.”

“My feet’ll be cinched up pretty tight. Eight seconds, ey?”

After Clem fell on his way to the dance floor other cowboys kicked off their boots and tried the stilettoes. Bets flew. But none could dance in Prince’s shoes.

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Stepping Up, Stepping Out (Part 3) by D. Avery

“No more takers?” Clem called, holding up the gold stilettoes. Prince took his shoes back, set them by his chair. “Well, the boys had a bit of friendly fun, ey?”

“Some of the jokes didn’t sound entirely friendly, Clem,” TJ said.

“Like I said, this kid could save himself some trouble by keeping his boots on.”

“I’ll be wearing my boots next weekend at the rodeo,” Prince said. “And I’ll go eight seconds on the bull, wait and see.”

“Dancer and a bull rider, ey?”

And Clem left their table for another, already taking wagers for the upcoming rodeo.

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Dervish-ity by D. Avery

“Look’t there, Kid! Dust devil!”
“Relax, Pal, that ain’t a dust devil. It’s jist a whirlin dance a story-makin. Swirlin ideas, spinnin plots; characters struttin their stuff, readyin ta take the page.”
“Why ain’t you up an dancin, Kid?”
“Shovelin shift’s my superpower, Pal, not dancin an story makin.”
“Then why ain’t ya shovelin?”
“Jist rumi-natin fer a bit. Thinkin on how Shorty’s a whirlin dervish, celebratin art an life. Thinkin on how ever week folks from roun the world step up an step out, puttin their own spin on the beat a the prompt.
“Cain’t ‘magin anythin finer.”

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Thank you to all our writers who contributed to this week’s collection!

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8 Comments

  1. joanne the geek

    What happened to my story? I know I submitted.

  2. joanne the geek

    Actually I didn’t submit it as that was the week I fell over and ended up in hospital. I did eventually write a response, but it was after the deadline..
    .

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Aw, shucks. I hope you’re okay now, Joanne. As far as deadlines go… I bet you could try and sneak one in or email it to Charli before a collection comes out.
      Um, was it a tricky dance move that sent you reeling?

    • Charli Mills

      Joanne, I hope you are upright and doing better. Take care!

  3. Sue Spitulnik

    Another great set of stories. Maybe we could call it a story-off.
    Reading the collection always turns new lightbulbs on in my imagination for other writers go places I never thought of but are so familiar when pointed out.
    Thank you folks for plying your craft at the most uplifting of places, Carrot Ranch.

    • Charli Mills

      May those light bulbs glitter like a disco ball, Sue! Thank you for contributing to the upbeat vibe at Carrot Ranch. It takes all dancers to make an exciting dance floor.

  4. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Kid said it; everyone steps up and puts their own unique spin on the prompt. While I usually try to visit individually, I never tire of reading the stories and poems collected together like this, fairly unique in the blogosphere. Different yet similar, a terrific weave. Castles and royalty appear; rodeos; awkward and fortuitous dances; and humor and puns. What a collection. Strike up the band!

    • Charli Mills

      It’s full of life, D., this weave we anticipate each week, adding to the tapestry. Such a thing of beauty to bring writers together. Thank you for keeping the ranch moving along.

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