*D in the A-Z Writing Challenge. Title and topic suggested by someone in the London Writer’ Salon, 1pm writing hour today.
Dancing is to me a doing of wonder. A glorious embodiment of music that fuels and is fuelled by the soul.
I have loved expressing myself to music since I was a little girl. Gleefully, gnomically, leaping across the scuffed parquet floor in the main hall of our junior school to the Hall of the Mountain King. Accompanying the crescendo within the music with my ever expanding bodily expression.
I loved the ballet classes I attended as a little girl and threw myself into practices and shows with gusto. Devastated when I had to drop out as my bloody joints wouldn’t allow me to get onto points. By that time, probably aged 8 or 9, I was having joint bleeds. My mum blames ballet for my ankles becoming target joints. I blame nothing and no-one, I loved feeling like a fairy princess, twinkling across the stage.
I remember learning to rock and roll as a teenager, in the music hall at senior school, a loose interpretation I’m sure, and being thrilled I could follow a routine. I was, as the second tallest in my class, always the male. I remember learning salsa some years later and the teacher battling with me to allow him to lead. More of a wrestle than a waltz.
I’m not a dancer, by any moves, but if you let that stop your shimmy you’re going to miss out on unadulterated joy. I had friends growing up and beyond that had a superb sense of rhythm and a sensual style that I envied and attempted to adopt. Failing, I realised, when I caught sight of my ungainly form in the mirrored wall of a bar.
When I saw myself on display my legs stopped moving in time to the music, my arms flailed rather than flowed and rhythm walked off and left me on the dance floor. Never one to sit a dance out I gathered my errant limbs, tuned my ears in once again and talked rhythm into getting back on the floor to join me for another go. I focussed on the beat, averted my eyes from the mirror and step closed in time.
Self-consciousness is the enemy of the dancer, when even a shoulder roll makes you feel like you are being scored for your lack of musicality. Banish those thoughts, turn the music up and let rhythm be the dancer. Free your mind and join us, feel it in the air.
When not on display, I am an entirely different bopping beast! No better, I posit, but freer, lacking that stifling inhibition when surrounded by more stylish swingers. In the dance arena that is my own home, I often find myself taking to the dance floor. I’m not Sophie Ellis Bextor, I don’t have an actual disco in my kitchen, however any clear bit of carpet or linoleum will do. There is never a plan to dance, no to dance on my to do list. It’s always as and when the music and movements take me. Lately, I have been enjoying the maestro that is Peter Bence who can play the piano like is it 7 different instruments. That got me to my feet and playing my dining table like Liberace. Yesterday I found myself, fresh from the shower and outfitted in towel, shaking it like a polaroid picture. Albeit one with a fused ankle and wonky joints.
Certain friends and I are inextricably linked by music. Vanessa can do the running man better than Bolt. We generally judge the quality of a weekend spent together by how much time we can spend reliving our younger jivier past in our living rooms. Cheryl and I once gave ourselves hysterics in Woolworths, dancing either side of an aisle to Deep, Deep, Down by East 17. Ducking below the pick and mix like a pair of kids. She may not appreciate me sharing that 20 years later! Karen and I shared a forever memorable moment in an Indian restaurant singing and table dancing (that’s sat by not on the) to… what the heck was that song called? I’ll let you know when I remember!
I mark my life in musical notes: what I listened to at school, at university, in my first shared house, the time I spent driving to see Ade when we first met. During that two hour journey each week, I danced through downpours down the M6. Throwing car restricted shapes to Chemical Brothers, Hey Boy, Hey Girl and head nodding to Mother We Just Can’t Get Enough by the New Radicals.
Many years ago my best friends and I would stick on a Gloria Estefan cassette and transport ourselves to the clubs of Havana, not that we’d have got in being only 9 and 13. We’d merengue and samba around their bedroom as unadults with unadulterated joy. Ok they’d do that, having Chilean genes and all. I’d hop around with as much latin style as I could muster, which was limited to null points. Nowadays, my repertoire is mostly house, that’s ‘in the’, but I still find myself emotionally elevated when certain songs come on the radio. Give me a bit of Sia or Stevie Wonder and my body sways and my soul soars.
The freedom felt when you let yourself be taken by music and it possesses your limbs is exhilarating. To flow, to ebb, to twirl, to twerk – forget that, you’ll put your hip out. Even just a head bob or a conducting finger like my dad used to do. Close your eyes, immerse yourself in an abandonment so pure, feel your veins fill with sound and your heart beat in time, let yourself truly go. That, my friends, is living in the musical moment and it is magical.