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Rantings, thoughts, diatribe. Anything that captures my interest and hangs around long enough to capture on a keyboard.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Dance, Dance, Dance!

I was dancing with Dragon in our hallway to, Can't Stop The Feeling, by Justin Timberlake. Dragon was flailing about, wriggling her hips, arms and legs. I was following suit. We were having fun. Dancing with kids is a panacea for what ails you.

I've been thinking about middle aged dancing of late. Mum and Dad dancing have become common cultural phrases. From Ed Balls strutting his stuff on Strictly to Michelle Obama sending herself up on Jimmy Kimmel, dancing after a certain age or period of life segues into old person dancing. While dancing in your teens or twenties is seen as freedom of expression, sexiness, rhythmicality and physicality, dancing in your late thirties and beyond can be regarded as a bit frumpy, a bit uncool. It might feel the same for you, the person dancing, but there is cultural shift in how your moves are viewed.  Who is judging you? Twenty year olds? Your children? Other adults? I don't know. Yet us 'oldies' still keep at it. At Dragon's school, myself and some other parents are attending a street dance class together in en masse expression of mumanddad dancing. We will shake the rafters and bring down the house. You can stare but we just don't care!

Recently a friend mentioned her discomfort at seeing seventy-one year old Lesley Joseph perform on Strictly Come Dancing.

Why were you uncomfortable? I asked. Was she not very good?

She was very good. It's just weird seeing a 70 year old dancing sexily. It made me uncomfortable. I don't know why. We'll all get there one day.

Is it because she was dancing in a twenty year old 'sexy' way rather than a seventy year old 'sexy' way?

Which begs the question - what does a seventy year old dancing sexily look like? Should it look any different to a twenty year old ? Why are the same dance moves that are acceptable at twenty not at seventy? Or are we just not used to seeing it on a seventy year old body?

I think about this because I am someone who dances. I do wonder now in my forties whether I should be pulling the same moves as I did in my twenties. Ageism surrounds dance. Yet the boundaries around dance are socially constructed. So why is ageing discriminated against in the free dance arena? The fact that we can move at all should be celebrated.

Dancing, for me, irrespective of age, has usually been a direct connection to joy. A symbiotic expression of musicality, sensuality, personality and sinuosity. As we age, our experiences of these qualities become more profound. You would think that this would be reflected in the way we boogie. That our dancing becomes enriched with experience and age. Not defiled and mocked because of it. Let's be honest. To be able to move to music when your joints ache and muscles strain is a triumph.

As Justin sings:

I got this feeling, inside my bones. It goes electric, wavy, when I switch it on.

Keep it switched on people. Don't turn it off.

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