It’s 2001, I think. I’m in one of the few nightclubs in Falmouth, where I am at uni. Friends have brought me here, slightly under protest.
I don’t dance.
I’m in my early twenties at this point, and apart from the occasional wiggle or headbang, I haven’t really danced and meant it since the school disco at primary school. I am way too self conscious; I simply don’t know what to do and worry about looking like a fool.
My friends seem to be having fun though, and I feel reasonably happy watching them.
Then, Paul breaks away from dancing with his girlfriend Cathy and our friend Jodie to where I am lurking at the edge of the dance floor. I wish I could remember what track was playing. With a glint in his eye and a huge smile, he dances like a complete weirdo in front of me. There are a lot of pelvic thrusts, hip wiggles, and terrible moves. Just terrible. He is relentless, completely silly, has no care for how cool he looks and I am laughing my head off. He leads me onto the floor to come and join my friends, and something in me changed forever. I found my dance!
I am forever grateful to Paul for helping me break free of worrying what I look like when I dance.
I don’t dance for you. I don’t do it for anyone who might be watching. I do it because it feels really fun and once the music catches me, I can’t help it. It’s purely about me being in my body.
One of the incredibly therapeutic practices I’ve discovered in this last year whilst creating Dive Down takes that liberated feeling to a whole other level. Five Rhythms Dancing is a movement started by Gabrielle Roth, and she’s written a book about it, the title of which sums up the idea perfectly: Sweat Your Prayers. You can find out more at the Five Rhythms website here. There’s a reference to dancing at the end of the Dive Down story – it’s a key tool in my de-stressing toolbox.
Five Rhythm groups operate all over the place, and I thoroughly recommend giving it a go. It’s terrifying, fun, liberating, therapeutic moving meditation. There is no right or wrong, and you are gently guided through five ‘waves’ of different types of movement, building up to a crescendo of complete letting go in the middle and calming back down again. In my experience, the other people in the room are incredibly sympathetic and kind, especially to new faces.
Not only has going to the sessions been amazing, I’ve had quite a few of my own moments at home, dancing around like a loon to release stress, anger, sadness, self doubt… all kinds of less than positive feelings that I’ve been able to kick into touch by moving my body. Nights out that involve dancing have also become little therapy sessions; a chance to let go.
I am so, so grateful to you Paul, and to everyone who has danced with me since.