Dancer

Posted: October 8, 2017 in Blogs
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My very first memory of dancing as a kid, sits high up on the pedestal of all time dance experience, and I’ve done some serious dancing. I’m not talking about anything pretty, no ballet, ballroom or Billy Elliot prowess. This memory, it may not be my first experience, because I remember little from growing up and I’m sure there were times when I was two that I boogied round a room with the enticement of some adults. What I remember is not a hint of recollection or a reproduced story, it is as real to me as climbing into a giant speaker and feeling every single amazing vibration.

My wonderful Mum may be the key to my appreciation and love of dancing and I might not have really thought that until the other day, when we were having a conversation and she told how much she loved to dance. I don’t think I ever knew that and it nudged me into thinking about it. Perhaps the experience of which I speak was just a catalyst in an inherent prophecy but I like to think it shaped me into the stomper I am today. My Mum had and probably still has, stacks of vinyl and her love of music has always been clear. When my brother and I were young she used to play records and we’d all dance around the living room. The one that sticks in my head is Simon Smith and the Amazing Dancing Bear; worth a visit to YouTube to set the scene, if this anthem from the 1960s is not familiar!

I can only imagine what it might have looked like to an outsider. There were no moves, no routines but just pure, free-spirited wobbling of arms, legs and heads combined with copious amounts of smiling. Despite this early baptism of fire in the dance world when I got to 15, I just didn’t know what to do with it. I remember going to my first ever ‘club’ night for under 16s (all you old Cambridge peeps remember the High Life don’t you?!), and quite literally contemplating what it was to dance, ‘what do you actually do?’. This is in the era of N-Tance, Set You Free, so you would think you’d need no further suggestion. I don’t remember if I made my peace with how to dance that night, I only remember my Mum picking me and my friends up in her white Peugeot 205 and being stopped by the police on the way home.  The look on the Policeman’s face was priceless.

My path to dancing via clubbing took on a more direct route without much initial interest from me. I tagged along to a night with a couple of friends, who after a few times lost interest. For me however, my fire was fuelled and I tumbled, like the ungracious gymnast I was, in love with it. I remember over-thinking it terribly, how people come together in a place, a room and writhe, wriggle and throw themselves around to a beat, how unjustifiably weird that was. There is something very tribal about it, something that takes over, all-consuming and powerful. I love that everybody’s dancer is like a fingerprint, you never get the exact same one. There might be elements of style that ingratiate a body but ultimately the differences are always detectable and much like a person’s gait you can tell who the dancer is across a room.

I think you can be influenced by a person’s dancing though. At one of my regular haunts at the Corn Exchange I came across a girl that you could have quite legitimately transported back in time to my living room with my apparent crazed, dancing family members and she wouldn’t have been out of place. She looked like a cross between Bambi taking her first steps and someone trying to balance on one of those rolling log things. She was so unbelievably smiley too. I spent some time with her, perfecting her moves and her influence is at the core of how I dance today, I see her in my mind still.

Dancing for me has long been a platform, much like sport has, from which I feel totally at ease with myself – I make sense on a dancefloor. Which I understand is the complete opposite of how a lot of people feel about dancing! If I have to go to any other situation with large groups of people and potentially feel in the spotlight or have to converse sensibly, I crumble. When the music is loud and good, I can dance and I don’t care about anything else. I think other people can sense this oneness as well; my favourite and best ever received chat up line was this, “I really want to talk to you but you look like you’re in your own world.”

These days my dancing avenues are no longer lined with trees and it makes me sad. Sometimes the desire for it is so strong, that it hurts. I miss my dancer friends who are far away or now parents. I miss the people that understand what it is to be a dancer. I want to go out and dance but I may have to put some aged Global Underground CD on and dance around the living room, like Bambi on a rolling log instead.

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