Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Bedroom Dancing

I am a dancer. Dancing is good for my brain, it makes me feel good, it keeps me happy, it's not something I can control, I *HAVE* to dance. I have to dance every day otherwise I feel blue, anxious, overwhelmed, and wonky, not dancing upsets the natural rhythm of everything. 

I've always danced. When I was 4 I did ballet and tap every Saturday until I was 12. My ballet teacher was called Pam, and even though it was just a shoddy rented room in a community centre in Batley,we had to call her Madame Pam. She had a cane and if yr bum or your chest was sticking out when you did barre work she would give you a big slap on the offending protruding body part to make you yank it in. I eventually got too fat for ballet and I was getting caned everywhere, but there was no way for me to yank anything in anymore so I quit. 

I danced at school lots. I had no friends, I was the weird kid reading Lord of the Rings and trying not to make eye contact with anyone. Yet despite that I did dance at school and it turned out I was better at it than all the girls who picked on me. I had no shame, I was earnest and I tried hard at things publicly and couldn't work out why I was picked on so much, not realising that not trying was the way to blend in. I danced to Janet Jackson's Rhythm Nation in assembly. My dance teacher was happy she had found someone who didn't give a shit and didn't have any friends to lose by embarassing themselves on stage. Despite having no self esteem, I was oddly happy dancing in front of everyone who made my life hell. I just really loved dancing. The following week I danced in assembly to Space Jam, remember that amazing hit? And then the following week I danced to Backstreet's Back. I may have had no friends, but I got an A in dance class. Who needs friends when you can dance?

At college I did dance again. But this time it was acceptable. All the freaks and weirdos did performing arts and dance was actually considered cool amongst the queers and the weirdos that were my friends (yay, I finally had friends!). That said, I did do an interpretive dance about consumerism to Massive Attack's 'Teardrop' for my A-level dance piece. It was a low point. 

But I love dancing. I dance every morning before I go to work and if I don't do this then I know my day is gonna be bad. I'm not exagerating. Every single morning.  I like to channel Angela Chase and her many many feelings:

I'm not kidding, bedroom dancing is my life. I dance every single day. It makes me happy, and if I'm in a bad mood I can do some proper angry dancing like Troy in High School Musical.

When my OCD is pretty bad it can make me not want to leave the house and I will look for really rubbish and flimsy excuses to stay inside for as long as possible. But I know that staying in bed is bad for me. Sometimes it's ok to admit that you need to stay in bed for a day, but ultimately it's very bad for my brain. But if I feel like I can't leave the house then at the very least I know that I have to do some bedroom dancing, even if I feel like an idiot. The world's a mess and you're my only cure...

While bedroom dancing is my life, dancing in queer spaces is the best.  Creating or reclaiming a space and making it yours feels amazing. I've been organising diy queer grrrl clubnights  and dance parties for 10 years now. From Mass Teens On The Run, to Shake-O Rama, to Bad Reputation. I've had amazing experience with these club nights. Bad Reputation was my favourite. I got to create a space with my friends and dance my ass off to music that I only ever really danced to in my bedroom before. I remember dancing to Muscle Memory by Dananananaykroyd with my fellow djs at Bad Rep (dj tip: never ever ever stay in the dj booth while djing, that's boring. It's best to run out onto the dancefloor to dance like crazy to the song you've just put on. Alternatively, make the dj booth yr dancefloor and dance like crazy in there.). Dancing to that Danananaykroyd song was amazing, previously we'd only ever danced to it in our own bedrooms and we danced so hard that I thought my bones were going to break.

I find it hard to articulate why dancing is so important to me. Club culture will never be considered proper cultural activism. But it's community building and validating and inspiring all the same. I know how ridiculous that sounds. My awesome friend Eva made a short film about exactly that. You should watch that cuz I'm having trouble trying to say what I mean here and the film does it so much better. 

This Wednesday I am going back to dancing lessons at Irreverant Dance. 

 I heard about Irreverent Dance last year when I was looking for dance classes but was too scared to actually attend any. I'm queer, I'm a fatty, I have hairy pits and legs, and while I absolutely love my amazing body to pieces, I knew that stepping out of my world into a world where I could be considered weird wasn't something that would be very good for me. Add all that to the nerves of dancing in front of strangers and it didn't seem like it would be an option and so I wished like crazy there was a dance class for people like me. A friend pointed me in the direction of Irreverent Dance who won me over with the introduction on their website:

Not everyone who wants to learn Ballet is young, skinny, graceful, cis-female and gives a toss.
In fact, most of us aren’t…

I booked myself on the Irreverent Dance Hip Hop class and for 2 months had the most fun ever. I danced in front of strangers, my self confidence improved by a million percent, I met new people, I got over a lot of fears, and I learned lots of fun new steps. Honestly, dancing to Usher in a club will never be the same again. It helped with other stuff too, I could feel that issues surrounding my ocd and anxiety improved during this time. I'm not saying dancing is a miracle cure, but it helps me and makes me feel awesome, and when I'm dancing I honestly don't have time to think about the other stuff. 

This wednesday I am going back to Irreverent Dance for a new term and this time I'm doing tap dancing as well as hip hop. I'm nervous as I haven't done tap in over 20 years and I'm obviously scared about making an idiot of myself in front of other people. When I was a dorky teen with no friends I had no fear of trying in public, I hadn't yet learned to be self concious of failing in front of people. But as an adult, trying things in public is something I'm a bit afraid of. I'm working on it and dance classes like this really help and make me feel amazing. Also I wanna learn to tap dance on rollerskates like this so bad:

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