Shall We Dance?

Saturday, February 17, 2018 10:43 AM

I used to love to dance, it was absolute joy in the purest sense of the word for me. In university, I was pretty much always the first person on the dance floor and that carried on into the early part of my professional career through holiday and film fest parties, weddings and conferences. I actually was one of those people who would grab others by the hand to encourage them onto the dance floor. In thinking back on it now, I seriously can’t believe I was that person.

I loved dancing and new music SO much that on weekends, a group of friends and I would actually jump into our cars and drive an hour outside of Toronto to Cambridge to visit Ballinger’s Danceteria and Videotheque (that was the actual name of the club if you can believe it). It was a HUGE dance club that streamed music videos on massive screens that were all the rage  – no place in Toronto had the capacity to do this at the time. The sights and sounds of New Order, Papa’s Got A Brand New Pig Bag (best name of a song AND band ever!!), The English Beat, UB40, Modern English, Depeche Mode, The Cure, Proclaimers, Smiths and REM etc (still some of my favourite bands) filled the club. The experience really was some kind of magical elixir for my friends and I, and drinking and driving never factored into it as we didn’t need alcohol to get out on the floor - dancing was a natural high (yeah, I really just said that – but it’s very true!!). To be honest, I don’t even know why I bothered to put makeup on before going out - I would almost always have sweated it off within the first 1/2 hour of dancing.

I’m not exactly sure when it happened, but over time, I stopped. I became really self-conscious and uncomfortable, lost the desire and just stopped. It may have been that I dance nothing like the younger generation does now (but seriously - their MOVES!!), but whatever the reason – that fun-loving/dancing side of me silently slipped away as I merged into mid-life.

Last year, my colleague Alma and I were chatting about our morning routines. She mentioned that some days – she gets up and puts on some of her favourite tunes and just dances. It made me think back to my old dancing daze, and I laughed thinking what a GREAT idea it is to jump start your day by putting on some fun tunes and just moving to the music! I considered adding it to my morning routine at the time, but never actually got around to it.

More recently, my friend Daniela suggested that I join her for something called Ecstatic Dancing, which I have since learned is an international trend/movement. This local version is organized by a lovely woman by the name of Tamara Segal of Groove Tonic. She explained that you just show up to the Picton Town Hall on Tuesday nights at 6:30 (dancing really starts around 7 pm but there is stretching and warm up first) and the cost is just $5. The room is dimly lit with candles, rhythmic music is played and you freely dance barefoot for roughly an hour - in your own space and in your own way. She also went onto say that she wouldn’t miss it for the world, it is her escape and she protects Tuesday night each week so she can attend. The thought of it actually terrified me, which, in hindsight may be partly what drew me to it. I certainly remembered how much I loved the feeling associated with dancing, and I wanted to go but really didn’t want to go at the same time if that makes sense. Boy, am I ever glad I did though.

I don’t think I can really do it justice by trying to explain it here, I think you have to experience it to understand, but without question, it was one of the most transformative experiences I have had in a long time. It took me no time at all to relax and to really feel the music and get right into it. Within minutes, I was swaying to the various rhythms without even the slightest shred of self-consciousness. I felt weightless and liberated and ravenously fed off of the positive energy in the room. That hour just flew by.

Do I care how I look when I dance now? Not at all, at least not in this space. How you look means nothing – how it makes you feel, though, is everything. There is no judgement in this space whatsoever - from others or even from my own antagonizing self-critic.

I’m SO so glad Daniela convinced me to do this (and it did take convincing!) and I’ve even added a bit of a morning dance warm up to my regular work out (thank you for your inspiration, Alma!) - it’s such an awesome way to start the day. And thank you, Tamara, for creating this gorgeously positive environment and opportunity for us. 

If you are interested in taking part of this amazing experience in PEC – follow Tamara’s Facebook page for updates. Women and men of all ages are welcome, so do yourself a favour and try this out just once. I bet that you’ll want to come back for more :)