Tiny Dancer

There are many things my daughter does which make me smile, but her dancing is one of the finest. One of my favourite memories from when she was very little is doing a silly dance in front of her, and she (seemingly) started trying to copy my moves. A little later she started bopping around in her high chair to tunes on 6music, which we have on almost always at mealtimes (I even wrote a piece on ten of the songs that made her dance).

Now though, nothing makes her happier than to hit a button on one of her many musical toys, and bop away to the (usually immensely irritating) music. She has two main dance moves, The Twist, and alternately raising each arm in the manner of a football fan singing ‘Let’s all have a disco”.

My daughter, in dancing pose.
My daughter, in dancing pose.

My wife claims our daughter’s dancing style is reminiscent of mine, all arms and hands, very little movement of the legs. And it’s interesting that she likes to twist, as one of my only memories of dancing in childhood is winning third place in a Twist competition at Butlins Skegness when I must have been about seven.

After that brief moment of glory, I don’t remember dancing again for a decade. Children traditionally mainly dance at weddings, but I didn’t go to a single wedding from ages 2 to 29, so that was out. As an akward, shy teenager, I had no desire to attend school discos, so that was out too. Then at age 17, I finally attended my first nighclub, an indie night at the local University, and realised that hey, bopping up and down to my favourite songs whilst slightly drunk could be fun. It was dancing in spirit at least, even if it involved very little co-ordination.

Then a couple of years later I truly discovered the delights of electronic music and much of the next ten years was spent in techno clubs, where the aforementioned hand-heavy dancing style developed (probably as many of the nights didn’t end until 6am, and I didn’t have much movement left in my legs by then). The techno clubs tended to be split between the people who were there to dance, and the people who were there to stand at the front stroking their beards and watching very carefully what the DJ was doing and exactly what set up they had ( I was perhaps 90% the former 10% the latter, but I think a few of my friends may have been a bit more fifty-fifty).

Me, shortly before my retirement from techno dancing
Me, shortly before my retirement from techno dancing

At 29, I met my wife and some of our best times together were spent dancing, particularly at Born Bad and Spellbound in Brighton. And of course, one of our very happiest days, our wedding involved much dancing, although the first dance was perhaps not my favourite part of the day. With not really as much time to prepare for the wedding as would have been ideal, something had to give and that was practicing the dance, so it ended up as more of a slow walk round the dance floor together, trying to forget everyone was watching (a great song though, more on which tomorrow).

One of the things I miss now we have a child is going out dancing together, but I’m sure it will still be part of our lives, even if infrequently (we have our eyes on the Whitby Northern Soul Weekender once we feel bold enough to leave our daughter with a grandparent for a whole weekend). I certainly hope so, as dancing has bought me so much pleasure in my life. There is a lot to be said for the simple joy and abandon in losing yourself to the music. I hope our daughter continues to dance too, and that she gets as much pleasure from it at 18 years as she does at 18 months. Not that she will be drinking in nightclubs one day of course, oh no.

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