I was a wiggly child, trying to figure out my body’s fluid form. It didn’t always serve me well to feel so much on the inside, feelings that wanted a life of their own, feelings I had trouble keeping in check, especially during church when my mother had to resort to swatting my thigh to make me sit still. “The music,” she said, “wasn’t for my benefit.” So I learned, early on, that my desire to dance conflicted with my mother’s need to control things, “Be still,” “Stop. You’re embarrassing me,” “This isn’t the place for that.”
So, between seven and fourteen, I locked the door to my bedroom and spun collections of 45s and albums, then 8-tracks and eventually cassettes, which went along with me in my first ride, an orange and white Chevy pickup where I cranked it up full volume. In private, I fell in love with music and the forms and shapes my body could make when it moved through me like mercury, slippery and smooth.
And then came the 80s, with all those flashy Euro artists and their love songs, filling me with angst and confusion. I wasn’t a kid anymore and there seemed to be so much more emphasis attached to our bodies and moving and being in the World. What was there to love? I wanted to know how and when it might happen to me. I couldn’t see that it already had.
Of course, I danced those slow songs in high school, hanging my arms around the necks of sweaty boys, in a cafeteria that still smelled of Friday’s nearly burnt pizza. But it wasn’t the same. In the presence of another body so near, I could feel mine shutting down, afraid to move – afraid to lose control. So mostly I preferred to dance solo, working out the answers to those weird and awkward feelings on my own.
Dance was an inner language I developed to explain who I am, I just wasn’t much aware of its purpose or how to use it. It seemed for a long time that not many people would or could understand it. Heck, I didn’t really get it myself. But real love never leaves you and can never be hidden long. It always finds a way to be expressed, somehow, some way.
Now, I dance with partners most of the time. I am learning to share, to expose myself and let other people in on how I feel. I’m learning to care more about what my partners feel – to tune in with the core of my being to listen to a body other than my own, to find their rhythm, another beating heart, another breathing soul and then respond honestly and openly, without ego or control. Mostly, I just say yes; and as you wish.
And it’s funny – the one thing I was afraid of, the one thing that I thought would confine me, actually opened me up even more. Once I made up my mind to share this love, I found the support and freedom to reach and stretch and move – my soul spreading through every inch of me. In moments, it takes me back to those days, to the girl who had to dance behind locked doors, but did it anyway, loving without restraint, every bit of who she was designed to be.
My 80s Angst Playlist
Holding Back the Years (Simply Red)
The Sweetest Taboo (Sade)
One More Night (Phil Collins)
Wicked Game (Chris Isaak)
Careless Whisper (George Michael – WHAM)
Here Comes the Rain Again (Annie Lennox – Eurythmics)
Make It With You (Bread)-Ok, late 70s, but still…
Do You Really Want to Hurt Me (Culture Club)
Time After Time (Cindy Lauper)
Anything for You (Miami Sound Machine)
Need You Tonight (INXS)
Wrapped Around Your Finger (Sting)
In Your Eyes (Peter Gabriel)
Addicted to Love (Robert Palmer)