Dance like No one’s watching

Some of the biggest turning points in my life are directly related to the aftermath of car accidents.

The fact there is more than one occasion should be a loud scream out to the universe that I’ve had more than my fair share, and could the car karma Gods please give me a pass?

Maybe the fact I’m able to type this is a pass within and of itself. Now, before you judge my driving skills let me state, here and now, not a single one was ever my fault in any way.

But I digress… turning points.

When I was 16 a truck slammed into my ’81 silver Firebird while I was stopped at a red light and totaled it. I don’t know what I mourned most, the wreck of such a rad car, or the ability to move my neck and back properly anymore whilst in the prime of my youth.

After many dr appointments they put me in PT. Over the months that I went I became friendly with a few of the employees. One of which gave the best medical massages I’ve ever had in my life. I totally forget her name now, and that’s strange considering how much she changed me. I want to say Lisa, or Laura, but honestly it could be Shelia or Karry. I really have no clue.

So, here is this chick, we’ll call her Lisa and she had to be like maaaaybe 20, 21 tops. For whatever reason she decided to take me under her wing and teach me about dance music. Now mind you, I’m a teen in the mid-90s in deep southern Florida. So we’re talking Miami Bass, Breakbeats, Drum and Bass, Jungle, and a wee bit of Techno (never did like Techno too much)

Prior to this I was more of a Wu Tang, Outkast, Bad Religion, The Toasters, Dance Hall Crashers, Sublime kinda girl. Basically anything you’d find a skater/surfer of the 90’s listening to on any given day. But anyway, one day Lisa invited me over to spend the night. I remember I was sick, strep throat or something and had a fever. But for some reason my mom said yes. (now that I’m a mom and in my 30’s I don’t understand why a. my mom let me sleep at my physical trainer’s home and b. why a 20something girl was inviting me over for a sleepover)

Maybe she wanted to open up my eyes. So, Mom drops me off, with assurances that we will just sit around, watch movies, whatevs and if I get sicker she’d come and get me. Soon as Mom dips Lisa decides to play dress up with me. Mind you to this point jeans and tees were my day to day, but she put me in this short flowy skirt and knee-high black and white stripped socks and gave me a beer. Then her brother, the manager of the PT clinic showed up and we all had another beer and then she says, “Ready to have your mind blown?”

So, of course I said, “Sure. Why not.”

We piled into her car and drove down to Fort Lauderdale to a club called The Edge. After midnight The Edge turned into a 2 story club for ravers. Not the kind coated in candy and plur, although there were some there too, but the majority were bass heads. Oh, could they dance. I fell in love with breakdancing from the moment I walked in the door. I stood and watched them all night.

Every once in awhile Lisa would bring me a drink and then wander off to dance and do her own thing. I ended up seeing a few kids from school, we talked. I stood. I watched. My toes tapped to the beat. That was it.

Lisa brought me back with the sun rising in the sky. My heart was full. I never went out with her again as far as I can remember. Never wore skirts out dancing again either. I always was a jeans and sneakers kinda girl.

I did however start going to every underground party I could find. Wednesday-Sunday afternoon from the time I was 16 until I was 21 I danced from sundown to sun up.

I remember the first time I danced the whole night away. My sister and best friends were with me. The music was so sick that night and unlike all the other nights up until this point I didn’t care what other people thought I would look like. I just danced like no one was watching. For hours. Until sunrise.

When we got home we slept like the dead and when I woke up I literally couldn’t walk correctly for 2 whole days. That’s how hard I danced. I couldn’t walk. For 2 days straight.

After that my body became conditioned. I learned more and more, and I became this entirely new creature. I would walk into a club or party with my head held high and a tilt to my chin. I knew I was the shit. I had so much confidence it dripped off me with every step. I’d never felt like that in my life. Not once. But I did then. And it felt AWESOME!

It truly changed me. I can’t say for the better. I cannot honestly say that my life changed for the better when Lisa introduced me to that culture. There are many many things that go hand in hand with that lifestyle that could have killed me. That did kill many many of my friends. We were all too young to know so many dead people.

I’m still too young to know so many dead people.

The music though. And the dance. Oh, the dancing. I’ve never felt so free, so real, so absolutely, positively, me. I belonged. I belonged to the night. To the rhythm. I belonged to the dance.

I hope everyone gets to experience that feeling at least once in their life. Find that moment when you lift your head so high with pride and happiness that you almost touch the sky.

Sometimes I wonder what my life would have been like had my mom said no. Or if Lisa had just looked at me like I was some punk kid, which I was. But I’m thankful. Even with all of the tragedies born of an era and a culture where the parties lasted for days and the kids played hard.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to dance like no one was watching until I believed in myself to dance like everyone was watching, because I wanted them to, Lisa. I made some of the best friends I’ll ever know from coast to coast through my love of dancing. And for that I’ll always be grateful. Wish I could remember your name.

I really don’t know where I’m going with this. Just putting it out into the universe. One of my life-long dancer buddies, and bff passed less than 2 weeks ago and so I suppose I’ve been reminiscing a lot about the past lately and once again coming to terms with how fragile life truly is.

I’ve become so stagnant I forgot how to dance. I went to a Zumba class this week and it hurt. Every step hurt so bad and there were so many moves my broken, worn-down body couldn’t do no matter how hard I tried. (remember the multiple accident thing? Yes, well, the most recent one really destroyed my body, but that’s another story)

But through the pain I smiled. Because I remembered the first night I ever danced and how God-awfully sore I was in the following days. And it brought me back and reminded me that the pain is worth it. It might take a long time till I can walk into a room with my head up, full of ego and swag and think I’m the shit again, but I’ll be damned if I’m not going to try my hardest.

One day I’m going to dance again.

This is my promise. I aim to keep it. And the whole damn world better watch when I do.

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