Remember when you were very young and you would spin and spin and spin until you couldn't maintain your balance anymore and you would fall down, preferably into a big pile of sofa pillows, and watch the world spin while you laughed at nothing in particular? If you were a little girl, perhaps this feeling was enhanced by a wonderfully twirly skirt that made you feel beautiful as well as carefree and dizzy. I've often said that most of us who indulge in alcohol or drugs when we get older are just trying to recapture that feeling of spinning and spinning and spinning. (Then, somewhere along the way, most of us decide we don't really like that feeling very much at all. But that's another story for another day)
I have always loved to dance. I have never been any good at it. Grace is not my stronghold. I have rarely cared. Dance like no-one is looking was never just a platitude for me.
I remember Jr. High dances. Sitting with the girls on one side of the room while the boys lined the other. Maybe awkwardly dancing with girlfriends for a little while before dissolving into giggles when we realized the boys were watching. Tentatively swaying with the boys during slow songs. Beth? I hear you callin'. But I can't come home right now...
I don't remember high school dances as much as I remember going EVERY weekend in high school to the underage disco, The Glass Diamond. Now say what you want about disco. You'll probably be right. I've probably said it too. As a musical genre, it was deplorable. But as a scene? Honey, even the underage scene was on fire. I remember putting on my deep scoop necked Danskin and a black wrap skirt and ridiculous heels and heading to the diamond. It felt so sophisticated and grown-up to enter that disco and say, "Hold my purse. I love this song." And then proceed to boogie ooggie oogie till I just couldn't boogie no more. I remember practicing steps and moves diligently in girlfriends' basements to get ready for that one night a week. Saturday Night Fever was not entertainment, it was a How-To-Guide.
College led to dancing on beer-sticky basement floors in frat houses then small apartments with the furniture pushed back, then finally, senior year, in clubs. College was dancing like Belinda Carlisle. College was trying to learn the "Thriller" dance without the benefit of a VCR. Or, you know, the aforementioned grace. And, if any of my college friends are reading, it's 10:00. What song is on the stereo? (Godzilla) And where are your feet? (not on the floor)
Post college involved a lot of dancing and clubbing, too. At least twice a week, quite often a lot more. DJ, VJ, live band - it was all good. And it was all an opportunity to dance. For inspiration.
Then dancing became something I only did at weddings. Celebrate good times, come on!
Then dancing became a lovely form of synchronous reciprocity when I danced with my babies and they responded to the gentle rhythms.
And I thought maybe that was it.
Every now and then I'd dance around the house with the kids. Every now and then at a concert or festival I'd feel my shoulders start to move. Even more rarely my hips would become engaged. If I thought no one was looking. On rare occasions I'd headbang a little. Which is, as everyone knows, the same but different.
Last night I got a gift.
The pizza shop had karaoke night.
From a business standpoint, it was a complete failure. But the very thing that made it a failure for the business made it a resounding success for me. It was like a private party. A private party for girls. The only folks there were myself, my two girls, my sister and her daughter, our friend, one other waitress, and her friend. Everyone (but me - I have my limits) took a turn on the mike. That was fun. But more fun than that? We danced. I mean we DANCED! No little shoulder dancing, no shifting weight from one hip to the other, full on dancing. We forgot we were too fat or too skinny or too old or too young or too any darn thing at all and we danced. Me? Who has spent the last couple decades trying to be invisible so no-one will have to be offended by the ampleness of my behind? Child, I was doin' the butt. I was a brick house. I p-pushed it real good. And I did all of this with women I loved who were doing it too. And we laughed. We laughed so hard and so well. And every bit of it was laughing with, not at. (ok, the young boys who were working at the shop might have been laughing at. But if you're not living your life in a manner that is amusing on some level to adolescent boys, you're probably not living it right.)
Moving like that felt AMAZING! I felt like that little girl swirling in my pretty dress till I couldn't swirl any more. That was cool. But cooler still was that I was sharing this experience with my girls. This wonderful, multi-generational girl power feeling was just palpable. I hope they never forget it.
I know I won't.