Dancing with myself. I’ve done it since I was about 12 or 13. Someone once told me that this phrase was a euphemism for masturbation so just to be clear: I literally and not euphemistically mean dancing by myself.
I don’t do it much anymore. Sometimes, when I have the house to myself, I do it still. Dance by myself. I feel like that this is important (small “i”) to say because some (younger) people might think that when you are 44 and look like me the urge to dance and pretend to be someone else might have disappeared. I can’t speak for all middle-aged men, but it hasn’t disappeared for me.
When I was 12, perhaps, we moved from Wellington to Raumati Beach. My mother still worked in town and left early in the morning before I had to go to school. It meant that pretty much every morning I would come down to the lounge, turn on the stereo, and “perform”. I always imagined I was on stage. I always imagined that I was improbably talented and people were stunned by my musical genius. Because I was a teenager one of my favourite imaginary audiences was a whole school assembly where I walked out and blew the collective regulation school socks off everyone with my brilliance. I think that is pretty standard teenage dream. Probably it was modelled in my head off a scene in the TV series Fame.
Music lessons at Kapiti College focused on the glockenspiel, so actually learning to shred a guitar through the school system was unlikely. Anyway, the music teacher was a douche bag with a mustache and, I think, the only teacher who actively disliked me in my entire time at school. I can’t really say here what I wanted to do with my glockenspiel but it involved force, and his backside.
I made you a playlist. You? I don’t know who you are. The people who read this blog. God help you. The purpose of this playlist is for you to go and dance by yourself. There are only five songs so you don’t have to dance for too long. Think of it as a Manoferrors workout tape.
Like Aerobics Oz Style. My mother used to tape it off the TV. I don’t remember her doing any of the actual workouts (she probably did, I just don’t remember) but they often had great songs. One routine involved a bunch of Australians in leotards working out to America by Prince. That’s a high impact song for aerobics I can tell you. Do people still do aerobics? To me it seems like the ideal way to get fit because music makes me high, and I could pretty much “work out” (i.e. dance) to music for hours.
Dancing is strange because it’s something that all people know feels good. Lots of people don’t feel comfortable doing it when they grow up, but anyone who has been to a kids party knows that all little kids will dance with complete abandon at the drop of a hat. When we grow up we become very self conscious about dancing. It feel too vulnerable. You can be made fun of. You are exposing how you feel in public and it might be used against you.
But if someone uses how you really feel, how you really express yourself against you then aren’t they just arseholes?
No doubt it’s another way we try to go beyond ourselves. Dancing. How long have humans done it? As long as we have been human I’ll wager. It is night somewhere, somewhere people are in love or heartbroken, they have had a drink, a drag, a pill, the music switches to a song with a beat that pulls something inside them, that reaches through their anxiety and self consciousness and they stand. They find their lover, or the ghost of their lover, or a stranger and they slip out of themselves into the music.
Go and dance.