Recently, a Facebook friend reminded me of the movie, “Footloose.” Remember this gem? Chicago high school student, transplanted to a small Midwestern town, comes up against the town’s ban on music and dancing. I loved everything about this movie. Who didn’t enjoy watching Kevin Bacon teach Chris Penn how to dance? Who didn’t get a little fired up watching Kevin do his rage-inspired freak out session in the barn? And who didn’t love the final graduation party when everyone pulled out their long-hidden but well-executed dance moves? Throw in some soft 80’s shots and a bit of fist pumping when the ban gets overruled and you’ve got yourself a real winner. I still listen to the soundtrack on Spotify when I want to get a little worked up.
I was a Freshman in high school when that movie came out so it really spoke to me. I was also a dancing fool which followed me into theater productions, my parent’s living room, and, oh god, the Performing Arts Company dances which, to this day, remain the benchmark of dancing happiness during high school. In college and beyond, I took classes at Jeannette Neill and the Dance Complex. Jazz, video dance, hip hop, African, Horton/Dunham (think Alvin Ailey), Haitian folkloric – I loved it all. And when I wanted to get my dance on at night, Axis and Venus de Milo were great places to thrash around. I didn’t even need to be drinking. I just needed to be moving.
Being in the company of college friends this weekend, I was once again brought back to that time in my life and reveled in the joy of it, especially in the wake of daily news. But, it also made me think about how much less dancing happens in my life now. Juggling life with a young child and working barely leaves me time to see friends much less go dancing or take a regular class. Even from home, if I’m not racing around getting things done, I’m scrambling to take a nap (which rarely happens). But, a part of me thinks that we really NEED to dance: to use our memories to anchor us, to shake off stress, heck, just to be silly for a moment when we are knee deep in the seriousness of the times. It doesn’t need to be as epic as Kevin Bacon’s barn dance (unless you have easy access to an abandoned warehouse). It just needs to give you a chance to open the release valve and channel your anger/joy/pent-up creativity in a healthy way.
So maybe it’s one great song in between work projects or watching over the kids (kids might help since they’re always happy to be silly). Maybe you listen to your jams while you’re in the car and break our your moves on the way to your next appointment. Perhaps it’s better not to overthink it and just make it happen. Find the song(s). Have that personal playlist already built. Then, crank it up and add more bass because, good God, everything sounds better with a little more bass. Just to get started, I’m gonna go back to my Performing Arts Company days in high school and bring back “Just Can’t Get Enough” by Depeche Mode, “Rock Lobster” by the B-52s, and “A Town Called Malice” by The Jam. Now it’s your turn. Let’s let ourselves dance.