The here and now and a bit of way back then

I relived my journey to 40 and found there's so much more to say

I’m in the mood for dancing

on March 23, 2014

Every now and then, I feel a strong urge to shimmy and shake on the dance floor. Like many a night of our youth gone past spent gloriously flinging limbs here and there in perfect synch to a whole flux of disco cheese, indie rock, 80s hits or club anthems.

I find there are few things more liberating and soothing for the soul than expressing one’s self through movement and music.

Actually I should clarify that I most definitely do not shimmy and shake. More like stomp my feet, bop my head from side to side, swing my elbows out to the left and right a bit and sometimes even spank my palms together.

Those are pretty much my smooth moves.

I have no idea how I look on the dance floor and in all probability no one else cares either. This is down to several contributing factors. I am usually inebriated, all others are usually inebriated, I genuinely possess no desire to look ‘cool’ and again, no one positively cares whether I do or not.

If only one was aware of this aged 13 to 18.

On the rare occasion of there being a School Disco (and not that kinky version of adults dressed in a very loose interpretation of a school uniform that we once attended at the Hammersmith Palais and which was a very fun night I must say), held in the Assembly Hall that smells of sweaty socks by day but transformed with a few rented disco lights for one night only into an awkward square of teenage hormones lining the perimeter. With a crew of vigilant teachers patrolling the perimeter in their ‘casuals’ and perhaps inwardly glad to have long waved goodbye to their adolescence. Not much dancing occurred at those events, I suppose the main aim was really to find someone to get off with. Come to think of it, a lot of getting off seems to occur on the dancefloor. Perhaps dancing is some sort of mating ritual.

I look back and see that most of my dancing days are confined to my University years with them gradually tapering off towards the end of my early thirties and now it’s an activity reserved for Birthdays, Hen Dos and Weddings. How did that happen?

There was a time when dancing was guaranteed three times a week and engaged with far more enthusiasm than any regular gym workout. Then again if gym workouts were also accompanied with a few pints then perhaps that too would be met with boundless enthusiasm.

Of course, we were students then. Take your pick of Monday night at the Ritz with the sticky bouncy dancefloor; Club Trop on a Tuesday at the Academy for a nostalgic dose of the 80s; Wednesday’s a ride on the 70s Love Train at Discotheque Royale; Thursdays you were spoilt for choice between the 50 pence a pint at Royales or a more pricier and perceived to be classier establishment pulling 80 pence pints at Piccadilly 21s or our very own Pav; Fridays were mostly Indie nights at 5th Avenue or 42nd Street and Saturdays back in the Pav or Jabez Clegg. Sunday, day of rest.

Moving from Manchester to London opened up new dancing establishments and a new definition of ‘clubbing’ but when I think about it, it’s still the same old songs that can get you moving. No matter what age you are.

If there’s one song to rule us all, one song that finds us on the dance floor and in the disco darkness binds us then I think it has to be ABBA’s Dancing Queen. Just the opening bars sparks recognition and waves of happiness go travelling to my feet and the urge to boogie on down takes over. I love Dancing Queen.

‘You can dance, you can jive, having the time of your life.’

What is there not to love about those lyrics. Having the time of your life. Dancing makes you feel that.

There was a time I really wanted to be able to dance properly. Like ballroom dancing. Perhaps not in a Strictly Come Dancing fashion but a degree of proper co-ordination. So when at University I saw a sign for ballroom dancing classes, I dragged Elbear to come with me. She made it to the door, looked into the hall, looked left, looked right and then just left. I can’t say I went back either.

Then there was the time I was dragged to a tapas restaurant for a bit of salsa without the side of tortilla chips. Quite clearly I do not possess the hips, arms and legs for salsa dancing. It’s also rather intimate you know and I’m not sure I like that either. I much prefer Uncle Monkey’s pretend you’re picking an apple from the apple tree, take a bite and throw it away. Repeat on the other side and stamp your feet.

I recently heard an interview in music psychology about ‘Dad Dancing’, the art of men moving to music that causes high distress for one’s offspring. Apparently more men than women can feel the natural beat in music which ought to make them better dancers. Yet a lot of men don’t dance. Especially of a particular generation. I have never seen my Dad, Mr Li dance nor my brother (he’s missed out on a lot of Madness style pogoing) but I’ve seen my father in law do some at our wedding.

If men possess more natural rhythm, it seems such a waste really just standing around on the perimeter when they could probably show the majority how it ought to be done. Luckily times have changed and Husband often declares that he is the one with natural rhythm in our partnership. He’s right. I rather enjoy having a boogie with Husband.

In fact nearly all the menfolk from my youth are dancers. Proper dancers and not mere spectators nursing a pint to the side, who move with ease and not self consciously looking panicked and wanting to get off the dancefloor with immediate effect. Yet, another bit of research suggests that as men get older they sort of lose a bit of co-ordination and the explanation for this is that it’s to make them appear less attractive to younger women for ‘mating purposes’. Hugh Heffner clearly doesn’t throw his shapes around then.

For whatever reason, but most probably for the reason that I’ve associated dancing with nights out or parties or alcohol related celebrations or something that I used to do before children. It’s something that I hardly do these days and I miss it.

But like the proverbial bus that you’re waiting for, three come at once. So I find myself dancing with Husband, #1, 2 and 3 in the disco lifts at Legoland Hotel Malaysia, then I find myself dancing at the Rolling Stones gig in Singapore (just so you know, there was no hint of any uncoordinated Great Grandpa dancing from Mick Jagger going on) and then to top it off I enjoyed a rather brilliant night out last week with some fabulously coordinated friends in an underground dancing establshment. We had the smooth moves that carried us way past midnight. Still dancing to the same old songs I might add but if you can’t sing along then that’s half the fun gone. I do object to swaying along to Blurred Lines because I still think Robin Thicke is a nob but have to admit it’s an incredibly boppable beat.


But the thing that I have realised is that dancing is not confined to a club dance floor. Having seen the rapt enjoyment of #1, 2 and 3 in the Disco Lift and how happy it makes them feel, we can create a dancefloor in our own living room. True they listen to music all the time but not to shimmy and shake to.

How could I have forgotten where I first heard all those 80s tunes I’m so familiar with. In our living room from the age of seven when our Jenn would put on one of her Duran Duran tapes and shimmy and shake and encourage me to do the same. I was mortified at the time and so embarrassed but she has a point. It’s a point I want to share with #1, 2 and 3 too.

Dancing is not just for special occasions, for the young or for being drunk but something fun for all the time and any time. Even when #1, 2 and 3 are more horrified by my Mum Dancing than their Dad Dancing.

So go on, shake and shimmy without a care and like no one’s watching.


One response to “I’m in the mood for dancing

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: