When I was in college I used to go out dancing with all of my radio station friends. A lot. Sometimes four or five times a week. We would each arrive around 10pm. We’d have some conversation and a couple (few) beers to loosen up. Then we’d hit the dance floor and stay there until 2 or 3am.
I also worked at a breakfast counter, short-order cooking, roll buttering, coffee pouring, and coffee drinking. I had to be at work at 6am. So, we would dance until 2 or 3, then sometimes go to a diner afterwards. I’d head home to sleep for an hour, and wake up at 5:30 to go work an 8 hour shift. I’d whistle and hum my way through the eight hours, then go home to take a mid-afternoon nap. I’d wake up in time to go grab dinner or a movie with friends, and then we’d be on a dance floor again at 10pm! A second near-sleepless night of dancing was followed by another eight hour shift. My young energy was endless. Now, I’m exhausted from just reading this.
The dancing continued after college, and through grad school. When we all got full time jobs we went less often, maybe only twice a week. And we came home earlier. And we sometimes skipped the diner.
In 1992 my friend Edvige and I went to see the movie Singles. There’s a scene in the movie where one of the female leads asks the other ‘If you were married, would we still go out dancing?‘ Later at a club the other yells over the loud music, ‘We will always go out dancing!’ Then she screams ‘What?’ because of course she can’t hear her over the music. ‘We will always go out dancing!’’ the other yells again, even louder. She nods in agreement, to the beat.
At that moment, in the theater, Edvige grabbed my hand, or maybe I grabbed hers. I don’t remember the details, or the exact words, because unlike the actual film, there’s no YouTube video of this scene for me to google. I do know that we made a promise to each other at that moment to always go out dancing.
The following year, I got married. We still went out dancing. She got married. Still went out dancing. We had some kids. We danced. Then she had triplets! We still danced. Now, I have a kid in college who dances with her friends!
We went out last night with three other fifty-something year old women who still go out dancing, After some catching-up conversation and some seltzer to loosen me up (two! with lime!) it was time to dance. As the colors lit up our faces, we swayed through the crowd to the empty spaces. As always, I let the music take control, let the rhythm move me.
And then I was in the zone. I got lost, as I do. I lost my sense of self in the familiar music, in the laser beams and strobe lights, in the scent of the fog machine. I became one with it all. No ego, no space, no time. It was 2019, 2009, 1999, and 1989 all at once. For a brief moment I was every version of me at the same time. I was all of ME and none of me. Thanks to the magic of dancing. All I want is to feel this way, the evening speaks, I hear it say…
I was brought back to reality by my sweat, and my rapid heart rate. It was feeling like a loud, smoky, hot yoga class in there, and I thought I might pass out, until someone finally turned on the giant ceiling fans. Then I moved into the breeze, and I kept dancing. When Edvige and I were hugging our goodbyes at 1:30am, we said it again: You see… We will always go out dancing.
This morning, I slept til almost 10am. I woke up happy, with five different songs playing simultaneously in my brain. As I rolled over, an involuntary groan escaped me. I put my feet on the floor and they screamed at me. As I stood up, my knees and hips all yelled. As I walked down the stairs, tightly gripping the bannister, every single muscle in my body joined in the chant! Water. I needed so much water. And a good stretch. And the foam roller. And maybe some ibuprofen.
It was so worth it, though. Those moments on the dance floor are so worth it. They always have been. I hope they always will be.