Dancing, Green Study-Style

canstockphoto11582044I love to dance – as long as there are no witnesses. Growing up in the 80s, I was fed a steady diet of dance movies from Footloose to Flashdance to Dirty Dancing. I also have a mad fondness for Gene Kelly movies. The grace, the rhythm, the magic of movement to music – all of which I don’t possess. When I used to drink, I thought I was an awesome dancer. When I dance now, sober, I look like a drunk.

Many a night was spent in Army base NCO clubs dancing to Morris Day’s “The Oak Tree”, hands in the air, wriggling about in a ridiculous mini-skirt and tennis shoes, having spent the day running around in a camouflage uniform and combat boots. Now, I cringe in embarrassment at the pictures of myself and all my mini-skirted friends, arms thrown around each other, laughing hysterically at something stupid. I would call them good times, if I didn’t remember the morning after as well. Jack Daniels and Coke never taste good on the way up.

When I was stationed in Germany, we went to local dance clubs and with fluent German (Noch ein bier, bitte.), our status as citizens of the world would be solidified, until Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer” would start to play. Every American soldier in the place would be on the dance floor. Dancing and singing. Loudly. It was strangely patriotic, if not completely boorish.

Years later, I took dance lessons with my husband when we first started dating. It culminated in one of the bigger arguments in our dating life and in my mind, at the time, was a death knell. We listened as the instructor explained how to do the steps, got the hand positions correct and then started to move.

We stepped on each others’ toes, awkwardly jerking one another around the dance floor. At one point, he smiled his most pleasant smile and whispered “Michelle, you need to let me lead”. He tugged harder and I became a mule, refusing to budge an inch. I am not, as you can imagine, a good follower. At that point, I stomped my way out of the dance hall and went outside for a smoke (I do miss an angry smoke). Years later, when someone gave us a gift certificate for dance lessons, it was allowed to expire in a junk drawer. Oops.

My husband and I danced at our wedding reception to John Hiatt’s “Have a Little Faith in Me”. He had a lot of faith that his graceless wife would let him lead and I did. One dance. Since then, we’ve gotten good at apologizing when we step on each others’ toes, but our dance is more enjoyable and less awkward. Metaphorically speaking. We recognize our limitations.

When my daughter was born, I learned a new dance, cradling her and gently swaying my hips back and forth to make her feel safe and comforted and if I were very lucky, sleepy. When we played, I would swing her around while belting out a whole playlist of Elvis songs. She laughed and clapped her hands when I would add barks to “Hound Dog”. When she learned to walk, there was always a name on my dance card, although our repertoire involved a lot of The Wiggles.

These days, my dancing time is usually solo, although occasionally accompanied by superior air guitar and crazy hair flipping drum playing. I’m still completely graceless and sometimes I smack into furniture and knock things off counters. It’s a happy, ridiculous dance, but it’s mine.

43 thoughts on “Dancing, Green Study-Style

  1. I love to dance. Me and my other half have been known to randomly start dancing together whether there’s music or not. Especially in the flat but occasionally in the street (out of the way of commuters of course. I think we’d have a bit of a death wish if we did so on a crowded pavement haha.) It probably looks very odd but it’s always fun…


    1. I do a lot of head-bobbing and singing at the top of my lungs when driving. I’m sure that looks funny to passerbys. I think it’s better for the world at large if I’m not spotted dancing!


    1. I hate being led about, even while understanding that it’s a necessity for coordinated movement, so we don’t dance. I think many of us were traumatized by high school dances and are happy that it’s not a necessary part of our social scene anymore!


  2. This is lovely – hey, I admire the images you include with your posts. I’m curious, are they your own creation? If you can tell me more, I’m just interested. I can relate to that Bon Jovi song, too. Nice images.


    1. Thanks! I use canstockphoto.com and purchase images by subscription, so there are no copyright/royalty issues and the quality is crisp. Sometimes even scrolling through the pictures can inspire a post. I like to mess about in Photoshop and have some skills, but the time it would take to do my own graphics would definitely impact time for writing.


  3. I’m closet dancer – I dance while I clean the house. I am a complete klutz. At my brothers wedding my great uncle Newt asked me to dance with him. He was in his 70s and was an army vet who landed on Omaha beach. He completely stunned me – he was so light on his feet and his leading made me look like I knew what I was doing. At that moment I understood the joy in it – I could have danced all night. Without Newt I am still just a klutz.


    1. Closet dancing is a good phrase for it! It’s nice that you had the experience of a good dance partner. I’m not sure Gene Kelly could even help me (especially since he’s dead, RIP). I’d still look slightly disoriented and unbalanced, like I just took off roller skates.


  4. I learned all my dance moves from Molly Ringwald in Breakfast Club. Pathetic, I know. I love the image of you air guitaring and drumming while knocking things over and bumping into furniture. I think if I caught my mom doing this, I would love her even more.


  5. I always tell my husband that my next husband will love to dance …. I do miss it and get to do it rarely. You take the good with the not so good, don’t you.


  6. Brilliant, also re the JD & Coke – can barely even go near the smell now 😉 I like dancing too – have occasionally attempted to do my tkd patterns to Steps, tragedy goes quite well so far. Can’t beat the 80s for dancing around though.


    1. I really had a hard time learning taekwondo forms without feeling completely self-conscious and there are days when my lack of coordination really shows. I have to practice a lot, so I can count on muscle memory under stress. Still love to dance like a fool at home, though!


  7. I say right up front on my “about” page, I’ve been known to dance with wild abandon and without regard to who is watching. I wanted desperately to be a Solid Gold Dancer when I was eight. I faced up to the reality that it wasn’t in the cards, but never have given up my love for dancing. My husband and I took two lessons, yeah, also not in the cards. We let the package expire.
    The NCO club – oh, I know – who dances to Salt -n- Peppa? ooo baby baby? Gaaaahhh what a horrible sight that must have been for anyone watching.
    Funny post today Michelle. I agree, it’s pressable!


    1. I forgot about Salt-n-Pepa. Probably a good thing. I know I date myself, but they played a lot of Madonna in clubs then, too. Sorry about the Solid Gold Dancer reality check. Now you can fantasize about dancing with washed up B list actors apparently.


  8. I love how it’s this whole personal evolution of dance. And it’s about joy and love… friends and family. And Bon Jovi and miniskirts, of course!


  9. One of my great guiding principles for a long time:

    “Happiness is a journey, not a destination.
    Work like you don’t need the money,
    Love like you have never been hurt,
    And dance like no one is watching.


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