Ron (Cuddles) Bailey's 'Fred Tat'
My name is Ron "Cuddles" Bailey. I first walked into the Youngstown Fred Astaire Dance Studio Sept 29th, 2011, with my future daughter in law, Anna. I wanted her and me to have a special dance for their June 2012 wedding. Kristin Dobson was our instructor. From that moment to now, my life has had the wonder of dance in it.
My wife, Chub, had been sick, in and out of hospitals and nursing homes a lot. In February of 2012, I completed in my first mini match. Chub was attending. She and Anna arrived, and Travis Manero [Youngstown's owner] personally escorted Chub in, making sure she had a very good seat. I completed 22 dances with Kristin and Chelsea Cherie. Later, Anna told me that Chub was in awe. She said, “Ronnie is always happy, but now he is in a complete new world.” She loved watching me dance.
March of 2012 was not a good month for Chub. She was in ICU most of the time and on a ventilator. In between working and visiting her, I would spend time at the studio. By now the studio had become more of a chapel to me. By now the instructors and fellow student had become very special to me. My love for dance and their support was getting me through a difficult time. Plus, I was having my own health issues with pulmonary fibrosis.
On October 1, 2012, I lost my loving Chub. Almost 400 people attended her calling hours. Among them were Travis and Kristin, plus several of my fellow Fred Astaire students.
The following month, I was in my first Regional competition. Kristin and I preformed my first solo dedicated to Chub and me. That same month, the studio held a Zumba Thon benefit for pulmonary fibrosis.
I have now attended several Regionals. I not only had a wonderful time dancing, but through them, have now met more wonderful Fred Astaire instructors and fellow students. I am truly blessed to have so many fellow dancers as friends.
I have never had a tattoo. I never got one until I was 60 years old. I have four now, and each one has a very special meaning. I got my first in 2010 when I lost my dad. In 2012, I got one for my beloved state of Iowa. My third was for my dear Chub, who was also a veteran of the USAF. My fourth I got in February of 2013. This I call my Fred Astaire Tat. I am proud of each of my tattoos. Each one holds a special place in my heart.
Travis Manero, the owner of Fred Astaire Dance Studios,Youngstown, first contacted inStep about Cuddles' tattoo. At that time, Travis said of Cuddles: "Wait until you talk to this gentleman. Everyone at the studio absolutely loves him." Well, Travis, we talked with him and it's clear why you said that. And his story about what everyone at your studio has done for him, and what dancing has done for him...well, it made our day!