January 28, 2015 § 3 Comments

I am a terrible dancer. I’ve got rhythm, sure, but I’m unco-ordinated, the very opposite of supple, I’m not terribly graceful, and I can’t ever remember the steps. And yet for a large part of my life, I’ve danced.

My illustrious dance career began in Grade 1, and ended a few short months later. Our ballet teacher, you see, wanted us all to put our noses on our pink-stockinged knees. It was never going to happen. And so she dubbed me ‘Granny’. I left a few weeks later, my knee-less nose severely out of joint, and my slightly-too-big leotard discarded in the corner of a drawer.

But I got to use it in Grade 2, because I decided I wanted to do drama lessons after they were advertised at school. I had no idea what drama was, mind you, but my mother thought it was a good idea, so the leotard was retrieved and I happily sang, danced and acted my way through several musicals until I was in my mid-teens and had a falling-out with the drama teacher.

I was actually cast as a dancer in a musical revue at age 16, and all of the other cast members were adults. So perhaps I wasn’t as terrible a dancer as I thought I was. Somewhere there’s a picture of me in fishnets, a tail coat and a top hat, and I remember sewing black sequins to the underside of those coat-tails so they’d catch the light as I moved.

I remember groaning through ‘Movement’ classes as part of my drama studies at university. I remember being whirled around the floor at a ballroom dance school’s open night. And a year or two ago, I joined a group of other middle-aged mommies and we huffed and puffed and swore our way good-naturedly through a series of salsa classes.

The thing with dancing, is that even though I’m bad at it, there are moments where suddenly my body does what it’s meant to do, and I feel the air move around me in just the right way. I feel light and graceful and in control of my body for that split second. And suddenly, I can fly across those sprung boards. I can dance.

But what I really love the most is to dance in community with others – at weddings, at birthdays, at celebrations of any kind. I love all the characters and dance styles. I love the guy with the paunch who surprises you with the lightness of his feet and his shimmying hips, or the great granny who kicks off her shoes and joins in with the line dancers. I love the circles of girls and the showy-off boys and the two-year-old in her twirliest dress, dancing on her daddy’s feet.

Why don’t we dance more? When did we stop?

I dream of street parties in small villages, or on town squares, with long white-clothed tables, and bobbing lights strung up from pole to pole. I dream of people whipping out their guitars and violins and accordions and making slightly messy, happy music with each other.

I dream of girls in summer dresses, pressed against their lovers’ taut bodies, whirling and smiling across a square. I dream of elderly couples who still treat each other with tenderness and care; they look on and see their younger selves reflected there. I dream of the laughter, the food, the fun.

Because there’s something to be said for moving your body to music as part of a community of people. There’s something joyfully primal about the noise and the rhythm and the sweat.

So dance. Dance more. Don’t wait for an occasion, or an invitation, or even for co-ordination to improve. Just dance. Throw caution to the wind. Throw plates on the floor. Throw your hands in the air. Throw a party.

But dance. Put on your favourite song, and dance.


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