And those who were dancing were thought to be insane...
...by those who could not hear the music.
By Julia Moore
...I did it again, despite a 30-year promise to myself that I would never again participate in a professional dance event, I did. Back in the day, with one of my dearest, most talented pals - only recently retired from the dance world - I attended a jazz dance session at The Pineapple Studios in Covent Garden, London. At the time, this WAS the place to be..The musical ‘Cats’ was part of the musical theatre boom, everyone wore leggings and bank clerks strutted down the street, pretending they were part of the ‘Fame Academy’. I had been warned - a high risk that I would not make it past the warming-up exercises. How, or why, I was allowed into the building remains a mystery - something about being an adult, making my own decisions and, most likely, the profit-making motive.
Less than 10-minutes into the session, I became dizzy, dehydrated and needed to sit down - putting on that leotard was a struggle. The start-up routine was so frenetic I thought there had been a fire-alarm, but folk were running around the room artistically, it transpired. Of course the advice was correct, and within another 10 minutes, I was crawling back to the changing room, with most of my bodily fluids in a puddle. There was talk of an ambulance, I think, but, to be honest, I was horizontal on a bench for the rest of the session, so memory a bit hazy.
When said pal returned, at the end of the class,- hardly breaking a sweat, and still looking good in her lycra garb, - she was less than sympathetic, but correct. I HAD only wanted to be there to wear the leggings and headband. I’d never danced a step in my life, apart from a couple of awful ball-room dancing lessons. That was not dancing..it was funeral practice, nobody laughed, not even smiled - I think both were banned. Spin forward 30 years and I find myself on London’s Southbank, at a 1940s Swing Dance event, part of the wonderful Udderbelly Festival. In the grip of UK’s recent heatwave, I trod on toes, was thrown around the tent, attempted to hide in dark corners, and was repeatedly found and made to dance like there was no tomorrow. By the end of the evening, despite a constant supply of iced-water, I had lost several kilos, my inhibitions, my dignity, and the ability to stand upright. For 2 days I had nose-bleeds and felt woozy.
I had not had such fun since the last Swing dance session (I had forgotten that one, 3 years hence- a more gentle session, in winter, smaller crowd)- and it took a full week for the tendency to grab someone’s hand and jive at them to wear off which, in Central London, can lead to all sorts of grief. The live band music was hypnotic and, when I am Queen, everybody - but everybody - will be made to at least listen to a Swing band. I will be a compassionate Monarch and not force folk to dance, but if their feet refuse to at least tap out a rhythm, they shall be detained, for their own safety. Dear Fred was clearly onto something (Mr Nietzsche, above quote, keep up).