Tag Archives: disco

It’s in the Dance

Dancers of the waltz, foxtrot, tango, cha-cha, salsa, and others will laugh at me for this, but after dancing to primarily disco music for the several years, I just realized that dancing to music of different eras requires different moves. The dance goes with the music, Astaire. Because I don’t dance formally and instead let the music move me, I think of my dance moves as just that — moves in sequences that match the music.

But the place where we dance on Sundays has changed, and where it was 95% disco and 5% other, it’s now about 50/50 disco/80s music. A recent night was more like 30/70, disco to 80s. Don’t get me wrong, I love the 80s and danced away my 20s worshiping at its music altar. I don’t think I’ve ever danced side-by-side with both kinds of music, though.

It took me a while to notice this, because I was still getting over the change of the music and the addition of 3 big screens and videos in a fairly small venue. Why do club owners think videos are a good idea? If I wanted to watch videos, I’d stay home and drink for a lot less. Not to mention, the total hacked transition between songs that videos necessitate. I will admit that the subtleties of a really good DJ are lost on me, but I sure know when a song is ripped from me mid-beat and mid-move, and the next thumper is shoved down my pelvis. Plus, isn’t there enough change in the world right now? Do you really need to mess with my Sunday night dance traditions?

But I digress.

The day after the 50/50 night we commented on how hard we had danced. I didn’t think much about why until the next week when it was almost all 80s music. My friend and I talked about how disco is a happy kind of music that encourages free-flowing movement. It lends itself to a prop, say like a scarf that one might twirl around and let float to the beat. On the other hand, a lot of 80s music has a harder sound. I realized that I haven’t been using my scarf as much lately. 80s music doesn’t seem to have the same kind of call for it. Or its uses are less floaty and more, say, tie my hands up or slap my butt. That’s Ms. Jackson if you’re nasty.

My friend and I were still on the dance floor, trying to sort out the more nuanced differences between the 2 types of music, when Ms. Jackson came on. As we watched her on the damned big screen whip her arms, legs, and body around in unison with her dancers, my friend said triumphantly, “80s music is more choreographed!” And suddenly all the other 80s videos and songs flashed through my mind: hard beats and tight arm and leg moves. No free-flowing motion or twirling partners. Just an organized group of people doing identical rocket shots that burn calories and leave different muscles sore the next day.

A light dawns ovah Mahblehead, as they like to say around these parts. It’s a nod to the actual seacoast town of Marblehead and also a word for a person who has mahbles for brains. For the record, I don’t live in Marblehead. But now that I have been enlightened, watch out, all you formal dancers. I got the waltz, foxtrot, and tango on my mind, and I’m coming for you — me and my scarf.

 

All that Glitters Is Fabulous

I worked all weekend at my usual Monday through Friday job (I know, I know, cry me  a river, wah, wah, wah). I only mention it because I had thought I was prepared to still post whilst I was working my behind off (don’t you just love that British word, whilst? It’s the ultimate in word economy). But it turns out polishing a rough draft is still more than I can manage when I have to work all weekend. So instead of a crappy, unpolished blog about farting–I bet you can’t wait for that one, can you?–I present to you fabulous closure to my post about protecting my hearing while I’m dancing. For those of you who missed it: I go dancing a lot. The music is loud. My ears ring. I got my hearing tested so I could get musician grade earplugs. An adorable young audiologist tested me and gave me pamphlets to give to my “loved ones” about hearing loss. Hilarity ensured.

But none of that matters. What was really important was getting those coveted musician grade ear plugs. And the key here is “musician,” because it turns out musicians require colorful materials for their ear plugs. The choices were overwhelming, but in the end, for this disco queen, there was only one choice.

Gold glitter ear plugs. I’ll see you on the dance floor.

You Should Be Dancing Part II

I’ve written a couple of times about dancing.  Nearly every Sunday early evening I dance at a mostly disco tea dance. Friends and family have asked me at various times in disbelief, “Do you really go dancing every Sunday?” Then they recount how they are in their pajamas on Sunday nights or don’t have that kind of energy. But what I try to explain is that the dancing and the music feeds me. I want to go. Unlike the gym, which is rarely fun to drag myself to, but I’m glad I did, dancing for me is fun to anticipate, fun to do, and  fun when I get home sweaty and hepped up endorphins by 9:30 or 10 pm (so much easier than club dancing that starts at 10 pm). Body moved! Calories burned! I certainly wouldn’t drag my ass out on a Sunday afternoon to listen to a lecture on the meaning of dance as a transformative activity in society. Heck, I probably wouldn’t watch other people dance on stage, either. I recently went on a  Sunday to see the Oscar-nominated short films at the Institute of contemporary art a few weeks ago, but that freaked me out, so that was not a good substitute for dancing. All I’m saying is if there’s something you love to do and it happens on a Sunday from 6 to 9 pm, you do it, which brings me to my topic. You were having serious doubts that I was going to get there, weren’t you?

The harsh reality is that I have not been going dancing as much lately, mostly because my fabulous dancing friend Mike broke his foot. The story we’re sticking with is that he was getting chased by a group of hot, young man who wanted to have their way with him; he is such a giving man, but in trying to accommodate them all, he broke his foot. As a result of his Herculean heroics, he’s been in a cast and on crutches for six weeks and just found out it will be four more weeks of the boot.

You’d think that would’ve stopped our dancing in its tracks, but it actually had only curtailed us. The photo above is exhibit A: dancing with cast. We’ve gone dancing twice now and because we’re professionals we quickly adapted to the new situation.

If you find yourself in a similar situation, here are our 4 tips for dancing with a broken foot.

  1. Get a stool, preferably one that rotates, but a non-rotating one will do. This seems like a no-brainer, but what we quickly realized is that the stool becomes a dancing prop much like my scarves. Sure, at first Mike just sat on it, but the beat of the music has its own life force and it must be obeyed. Soon Mike was rocking it out in the stool.
  2. Stool placement is critical. Do not place the stool next to a fellow dancing regular who always sits in the same place every week. This is his or her territory, so be mindful of that. Where we dance, Whistle Guy has such a spot. He sits there for most of the night, blows a whistle rhythmically and with discretion during the right songs (Donna Summer’s “Bad Girls” is a favorite), and he bestows beaded necklaces that he makes himself on the lucky few during the night. I’ve been lucky four times in the past two years. His stool is near the tables at the back of the dance space. Because it’s more practical to not have to drag chair through a crowd of dancing people, we set up Mike’s stool close to Whistle Guy. He was pretty good about it, but I got the undertone to his joke about “not getting too comfortable.” Rule #1 among the regulars is to keep peace among us. The interlopers will come and go and may disrupt the routine from time to time, but we regulars are in for the long-haul and must get along. As the night went on, I understood that he’s got his thing going on and didn’t want us cramping his style. Duly noted. The second time we went dancing I cleared a path through the bodies and carried the stool closer to the front of the room. I waved at Whistle Guy as I went past. His big smile and thumbs up was all I needed to know. All was well in our little dance regulars world.
  3. Your stool is a dance partner, not a piece of furniture. If you’ve ever seen that scene where Fred Astaire dances marvelously with a coat rack, you know this is true. It took us a little time, but Mike was soon learning to move around on the stool. Then when he turned it around and straddled it with the back support between us, we were transformed. Suddenly, his leg was up in the air and I was holding on to the back of the stool and sliding underneath it. I shimmied, Mike swirled. We hit our stride when Mike, an infuriatingly natural back-bender, began to do back bends to the floor, sometimes holding on to the back of the stool, sometimes not. I held on to the back and did my own back bend in counterpoint.
  4. Have fun, and don’t worry what you look like. The fact is you’re dancing with a boot. You look and are absolutely fabulous.

Mike and I have 4 more weeks of stool dancing–who knows what moves we’ll make up next.