. . . on a time to dance

dancing like you just don’t care


One of life’s secular commandments is that you should dance like nobody’s watching. I have my own thoughts on this and my own thoughts are that I don’t like dancing in public and generally avoid it, whether people are watching or not. So while you’ll always find me in the kitchen at parties, weddings and whatnot, you certainly won’t find me on the dancefloor. You’ll find me on a nice comfy chair watching everyone else dance like nobody’s watching and smiling to myself because most of the time that spectacle is gas.

There’s nothing better than watching people move to music, especially when they don’t give a toss that they’re not in fact Beyoncé, especially when all they are is just happy to be alive and capable of punching the air in vague time to the music. Michelle Obama did a brilliant TV skit on “mom dancing” recently which is well worth a few minutes of your time on the internet.

Probably the main reason that I don’t dance, mom-style or otherwise, is because I don’t think I do it very well. Now I’ll get up and sing you a song (even if you hate amateur singing and would rather eat tarmac than listen to me, sorry) because I think I’m kind of handy at that. I’m a poor woman’s Adele, but I’m no poor woman’s Beyoncé, so I sit and watch and don’t inflict my dancing on the world.

I’d like things to be different. I check in regularly with myself to see if somehow, overnight, the way you discover a freckle you’ve never seen before, I’ve miraculously turned into a poor woman’s Beyoncé. Sometimes at home, at night, in my kitchen, I’ll break out a little move and use the long windows as a dance mirror to check if I’ve improved. When I discover, sometimes to my surprise, that I haven’t suddenly developed the skills of a contestant from Got to Dance , then I retire again for another decade.

I was at a gig in a tennis club last year. If I had a fiver for every person who tried to get me up dancing that night, I could have paid for a term of hip-hop lessons. When most of the room is up dancing, I’ve noticed people don’t take kindly to those of us sitting on the sidelines just having a gawk. My arm was nearly pulled out of its socket in their enthusiasm to get me to join in. When you don’t dance you are seen as a spoilsport. But I don’t dance, so don’t ask me, as they crooned back in the day.

I know there are people in the world who love to dance and don’t even need alcohol to “get down” on “it”. I met one of these people last week. She told me she goes out to clubs just to dance for hours, losing herself in whatever music the DJ plays. She doesn’t care what age the other punters are, she doesn’t care that she has to swat away the advances of men who think she must be out on the pull. She just dances all night and it makes her feel good.

I think in her case it’s genetic. She told me her parents,who are both in their eighties, go out ballroom dancing a few times a week and have done for years. She says it keeps the twinkle in their eyes. I don’t dance, but the thought of this made me wish I did and that my boyfriend did and that we could waltz around the kitchen of an evening instead of watching Fair City .

I was at an all-women evening recently in a friend’s house. The food was sublime and somebody had brought bottles of Laura Murphy’s Kombucha drink, hand-made in Stoneybatter, Dublin. It’s a heady, non-alcoholic elixir I was to discover. The banter was top class, going from frothy, to deep ’n’ meaningful to empowering and all the way back again.

Suddenly it was very late and somebody suggested dancing. And I must have had too much of that Kombucha stuff because I didn’t make my excuses as usual. I stood in a kitchen and “busted” out some “moves” from the MC Hammer School of Dance to a backdrop of music I’d never heard before.

I didn’t care. For one brief moment, for one night only, I danced like nobody was watching. Then I looked at my phone, saw it was 4am (Four! Am!) and departed, leaving the rest of the women punching the air.

They found me half an hour later in another room snoring under a pile of coats. Turns out dancing like nobody is watching can really take it out of a person. I very much look forward to another go in 2023.