I’m a dancer. Not in the performing or professional sense. Just that I am a person who likes to dance.
I had ballet classes when I was about 9, for a couple of months and I loved them. My mum stopped my classes on account of the teacher moving away but truth be told, I reckon it was because we just couldn’t afford it.
Other than those few months of ballet, I’ve never had professional training in any dance but I loved dancing anyway and would dance in front of my mirror and copy video clips like most teenagers do.
As an adult, I never pursued a dancing career because I figured I was too old, too inflexible and it was just too late for me.
Besides, as a teenager, dancing in front of your dressing table mirror and then having your dad see you through the window and fall over laughing at you because of what he saw you doing was mortifying enough to ensure I never did that again unless I was sure that NOBODY could see me.
I didn’t go to my first clubbing experience until I was already at University. I loved it. I’d be the first person on the dance floor and the last one standing.
I’d go to the club not for the alcohol or the picking up, not for the conversation I mean, you couldn’t really talk in a night club since the music was so loud. Nope… I went there to dance. It just made me happy.
One of my fondest memories was going to a club packed full of people. It was supposedly the biggest nightclub in the Southern Hemisphere back in those days. 3 floors of the same music, each level being like a mezzanine able to look down onto the floors below, right to the bottom centre where the DJ was.
I was a 90’s R’n’B and Hip Hop girl. That’s all they played in that club.
So here I was walking through the ground level, a completely packed crowd full of strangers as tight as a mosh pit except dancing to RnB, attempting to get to my friends upstairs when Snoop’s Ain’t No Fun comes on.
Everybody screams “oooooh!!” like you do when you’re thinking “This is my JAM!”, puts their hands in the air and starts bopping back and forth to the beat, including me.
I stop in my tracks and just bop along with everyone. I was now part of the sea of people bopping in the same direction.
Kind of like a concert where everyone is clapping and singing their lungs out to their favourite song except with the hip hop hooray movement going on at the same time to the beat.
Then the first line starts, “When I met you last night baby..” DJ stops the track and everyone yells the next line. “Before you opened up your gap!”
And that was it, we all lost it… you see, this song was not on the radio but everyone in the club knew the song and were completely chuffed to hear that everyone else knew it too.
Can you imagine? Thousands of people bopping to the rhythm all at the same time with huge smiles on their faces doing this call and response with the DJ and anyone you made eye contact with would be singing along with you while giving you the hugest grin. Unity.
We were all having a great time. It was the best! I wasn’t with anyone I knew but we all connected in that moment and the feeling was blissful.
That’s why I like dancing because even when you can’t talk, you can still connect with others through music, movement and rhythm. It really puts all the senses together – auditory, visual and kinaesthetic and it’s absolutely magic when everyone is in the moment together.
It really does make me happy.
So here I am at 40, having a midlife crisis. Why?
Because Tony doesn’t dance and ever since being with him, I have completely stopped dancing. This year would mark 9 years of us being together. And it is therefore 9 years of zero dancing for me.
We also liked very different music in our youth so any time I start singing a song, he has no idea what I’m referring to.
I attempted to get him to come to attend beginners Salsa classes with me as some middle ground but it ended up being like torture for him. He would finish the classes feeling completely frustrated, angry or incompetent.
None of the feelings that I would ever associate with dancing. Since it was so horrible for him, we stopped going and I never went dancing again. Even dancing at clubs or parties is a bit crap because he can’t dance. It becomes very awkward and not fun, so even if I want to dance I just sit instead.
We just go to yoga now because he’s good at that.
It’s taken 9 years of slowly eating away at me and I had no idea until I had a conversation with a friend who I hadn’t seen in 10 years and he mentioned that his impression of seeing me after all that time was that I was subdued and almost withdrawn.
I always figured I’d become the way I am now because I was a) older b) more mature c) more at peace with myself d) experienced some pretty harrowing emotional events in the last 10 years that I haven’t completely gotten over and so needed some time to chill.
Part of that is true but something inside me just said, “No, that’s not it.”
I always told myself that I would dance my way through life and 10 years is a long time to not do that. It’s almost like I paused myself mid-movement and said yup, I’m fine right here.
But it turns out, I’m not. I’ve been feeling this for a while but it took someone outside of me who hasn’t seen me since before I was with Tony, to say, “You know what? I think you’ve forgotten just how cool you are.”
As usual, it made me think. “Have I forgotten? If so, what have I forgotten? What was I like? Did I like that me? What did I do then that I’m not doing now?”
Dancing was one of the things that came up. Dancing. I gave up something that made me happy. I stopped doing something that lit me up inside… for 10 years. How could I possibly not be subdued after doing something like that?
So this week I’ve been completely obsessed with finding an adult dance class to attend. I want to get my groove back even if just a little.
I’m choosing a class because I really think I’m too old and tired to go to a nightclub, I have no room (and no one) to dance with at home and the yoga studio is an inappropriate place to bust a move.
I’m rather embarrassed to say that I feel weird going to classes that are being run by and attended by 20 year olds. Hence feeling like I’m having a midlife crisis.
It seems that people my age prefer to tango, salsa or swing and here I am thinking I’d like to go do Hip Hop. Yes, this is why I’m having a midlife crisis because I’m choosing a type of dance that I liked to do in my teens and 20’s.
I figure, if that’s where I paused then that’s where I have to pick up from before I can move on.
Actually Hip Hop doesn’t exist as a dance class anymore. It’s so ancient, I think it’s evolved to Street Dance or something and the movements look a little more violent to me – you know with all the krumping and the popping? I’m a bit scared.
I’m so out of it I have no idea plus my older joints may not like so many quick snappy movements but I can’t talk myself out of this before I even attempt it just because I think it’s inappropriate or crazy for my age.
I’ve got to give it a go, even if only once and if I don’t like it, I can always stop and find something else right?
Hell, maybe I can be the only 80 year old doing hip hop in the future. Break social norms, why not eh?
Normally I wouldn’t be this scared to go dancing but I guess this is what happens when you spend 10 years training yourself not to do something.
So, here’s to being 40 and reliving your 20’s eh? Wish me luck.