Why dancing is the way I remember the best times
I was in Mexico last week visiting my aunt and uncle in the small town in which they retired to, along with a bunch of other expats. Never before have I seen a place where people over sixty go dancing every night at every restaurant, bar and club in town. I came to the realization as I was being swung around the dance floor by my uncle, as the band played Brown Eyed Girl, that so many of my favorite memories involve dancing. It amazed me—when I stopped and thought about it, from every point in my life, I can picture a time where I’m having fun and feeling total joy while I’m dancing.
I took dance lessons from a young age, all the way up until I graduated high school; however, it’s not those times that I reflect back on. No, it’s the times when I was with my friends and family, no skills being tested, no teacher in front of me, just dancing of my own volition.
But, given my dance background, I took it upon myself to choreograph many a dances. It was a rare family occasion in which I didn’t perform a dance for all to see. In 5th grade, my friends and I took down the house with our epic performance of Aretha Franklin’s Respect and twenty years later I still chuckle when I hear that song; on autopilot, my arms instantly pump back and forth when the “sock it to me, sock it to me, sock it to me” verse comes on.
In middle school, my favorite dance was the Time Warp from the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Even though the racy plot of the movie was over my head, I was obsessed with that song. My best friend and I spent many days after school in my basement, doing the dance over and over again, laughing non-stop. At my bat mitzvah, we projected the scene from the movie on a big screen and the entire party did the Time Warp together. If you could find a VHS player, I’ve got the tape to prove it.
When I think of my group of best friends from high school, again, the best memories I have are of all of us on the dance floor at various times. We spent many summers visiting the Jersey Shore and fine, along with imitating some of the moves from the casts of the Jersey Shore (fist pumps, anyone?) we would have the best time jumping and dancing around. We often looked ridiculous and could care less. We’d clear a circle and let one of our friends do “the worm.” We had an entire choreographed dance to R. Kelly’s Ignition. We had endless fun.
In college, most nights were spent at parties and bars… oh right, and studying of course. The nights that stand out are the ones in which we were dancing. When we went to Mexico for Spring Break, we went to this giant club and danced all night. We sweat, laughed, kissed some boys…. if I close my eyes, the image is still crisp as can be.
Then came the weddings. If you think about it, what is part of almost every one of these milestone event? Dancing! Personally, I’m a fan of the hora. If you’ve been to a Jewish wedding you know what I’m talking about. If you are not familiar with the hora, it is a traditional dance at Jewish weddings in which everyone grabs hands and circles around a smaller circle inside. Usually, chaos ensues, feet get stepped on but everyone around you is laughing and smiling.
Now, I have friends with kids. Kids are the best dance partners because they aren’t afraid to be silly, to fall down and to laugh it off. A recent memory of visiting my friend and her two-year old daughter, Ally, is having Ally grab my hand and pull me over to dance with her. She then taught me, seriously, she was better than me, how to do the “Whip” and “Nae Nae.”
Yet, dancing has no age limit. At my grandmother’s 95th birthday party back in December, she was thrilled to celebrate the occasion with, what else, dancing! My grandfather has Parkinson’s disease and now, much to his dismay, must use a walker to get around. I couldn’t believe that when the band played Frank Sinatra, my grandfather put aside his walker, sashayed onto the dance floor, and my grandmother took his hand. I hadn’t seen either of them smile that big in awhile, but the joy they felt radiated throughout the room. Soon, the entire party was on the floor dancing. Another memory I’ll never forget.
It was dancing that was the common thread amongst all those good times I’ve had. While I continue dancing through life, I know it will bring many more unforgettable moments. Sometimes, I even dance alone when I need a quick pick me up. Try it, I dare you. Turn on your favorite tune and get on your feet. See? Mood lifted!