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Byron Shire
March 1, 2021

So you don’t think you can dance?

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Mandy Nolan

I’ve never really got the dancing thing. I’ve never felt comfortable dancing. Especially in public. Dancing has always felt less like a voluntary ‘fun’ activity and more like a cry for help. If you’ve seen me dance you would understand. I have witnessed people dancing for hours, lathered in sweat, with silly dance trance smiles on their faces. I wonder what substance they must have imbibed to reach such a state.

As far as I’m concerned, dancing for fun is about the same league as jogging for pleasure. Only weirdos, druggies and people with eating disorders really get into it. Oh and hippies who need to self express every few… hours or they spontaneously combust. When I’m dancing I time myself. One song, thats enough. I have ‘danced’. I don’t  actually dislike dancing. Occasionally I’ve surrendered to the moment and pulled off a few amazing moves. But dancing makes me feel self conscious and silly. If I’m being purposefully silly that’s fine. I can dance like a maniac, providing that you are willing to laugh at me. But for me to hit the dance floor and expect to be taken seriously is quite another matter.

I find dancing and blending in quite a challenge. Dancing makes me feel obvious. I start choosing the moves I might use as I approach the dance floor. I’m six foot tall and 90 kilos. There’s some moves that I just can’t pull off without looking like I’m having a seizure or I’ve got a bad case of thrush.

Generally I go for the dance that everyone seems to do. The  foot shuffle and the shake of the hips. And then the hands, what do I do with my hands? Wave ‘em around a bit. Put them in the air. Hang on, you’re on the dance floor with your hands in the air. I look like someone on drugs. Or waving to let traffic know there’s an accident up ahead.  Now I can’t bring my hands down unless I transition into some sort of follow up move. How about the traffic cop, oh yeah that’s it, pulling the Stop Sign. Nice move. A bit enthusiastic though for someone who was just hoping to blend in. People will be looking at you and they’ll be thinking that you are thinking that you are an awesome mover. I don’t want people to think that I think I’m a good dancer.

When I’m dancing I am aware that people are deciding one of two things. Either I’m a good dancer or a shit dancer. Even thinking that makes me feel even more wooden. Like a bloke doing the Nutbush sober. I don’t like free dance. Because nobody except that freak Tommee really dances freely anyway, people seem to all follow this set of moves prescribed by the thriving sweaty status quo.

I remember the hip-pumping dance of the gay clubs. Everyone did it. Straight or gay. Then the swampee stomp backwards and forwards. I tried this for a Hoodoo Gurus gig and got so dizzy I passed out. Doof nearly killed me. Dancing for three days, are you frigging kidding? To that? Techno always felt like music to grow brain tumours. I went to a few doofs, but I ended up hiding in the car hoping that someone would eventually want to go home so we could resume normal life.

I love the idea of being an amazing dancer. In my mind I am incredible. Leaping, rolling, writhing – although this doesn’t go down very well in the mosh pit, and generally you end up finishing your dance with someone from security.

I have heard the saying ‘dance like no-one is watching’. And that’s just stupid. If no-one was watching, then why would you even dance in the first place? Dancing is primal. It’s performance. By its very nature it’s attention-seeking. Dancing in nightclubs always feels like an audition for a root. I’ve seen people dancing like no-one is watching, and they always look like they know everyone is watching.

I think I need some sort of dance therapy, but I’ve seen the Nia crew, and I don’t know whether it’s healthy being that un-self-conscious. Sometimes being self-conscious is a good thing. It makes you put your pants on. In the meantime, I’ll just sit this one out.

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