Dressed to Protest
Unable to make the Women’s March in London on Saturday, instead I joined the small crowd of protesters outside City Hall in Norwich on the evening of Trump’s inauguration. It was freezing and choosing an outfit to wear was easy; comfort and protection against the cold were paramount. Warm layers, bobble hat, thick socks, comfortable boots were the obvious choice. There were absolutely no ‘do I look fat in this’ issues.
The Pussy Hat Project
I didn’t know then about the Pussyhat Project (pussyhatproject.com), until I saw the sea of bright pink on the Washington DC March on TV the next day. Taking the ‘feminine’ colour pink and using it to demonstrate what girl power looked like, embracing the traditional ‘mumsy’ skills of knitting and crocheting and displaying them proudly on the world stage was a brilliant plan. I loved the concept and enjoyed the visual manifestation.
Dancing is a dangerous business as anyone who’s seen the Powell and Pressburger film The Red Shoes knows. (If you haven’t seen the film – download it immediately and treat yourself to a great classic movie.)
Watching Matthew Bourne’s mesmerising new ballet of The Red Shoes at Sadler’s Wells last week I was reminded (spoiler alert) of the high cost dancing can have on your life.
The Red Shoes
Both the film and the ballet are inspired by the 1845 Hans Christian Anderson story of The Red Shoes in which the young heroine Karen refuses to take off her treasured red dance shoes when she goes to confession. As divine punishment the shoes take on a life of their own and she has to keep dancing night and day until she begs to have her feet chopped off so she can rest.
I just happen to have a beautiful new pair of red dancing shoes that I’m taking for a debut airing this Sunday. I’m hoping to avoid Karen’s gruesome fate but there is no doubt that dancing is addictive.
Each to their own addiction
I’ve tried Salsa, Flamenco, Samba and Egyptian dancing and enjoyed them all but never managed to stick with the classes for long enough to master the form. I think that as with colours everyone has a favourite dance style that suits them.
From my very first Lindy Hop class I was hooked. The moment I saw the experienced dancers swirling around in their flared skirts and saddle shoes I was determined to become one of them. I think it was the dynamism of the moves; there was such a joyful, exuberant flavour to the dance. I couldn’t wait to be flung out at high speed and tossed into the air.
Dancing is a wonderful, life enhancing activity but beware – it will change your life!
There are serious consequences to joining the cult!
Husbands arrive masquerading as ‘leads’ to mess up your ordered single life. Say Good bye to your non-dancing friends – you aren’t going to see them again because all your weekends and evenings are going to be spent dancing.
(But say hello to a wonderful crowd of lovely new dance friends.)
Get ready to dump your ‘going out’ clothes into a plastic bin liner and take them to a charity shop. You’re going to need a whole new wardrobe. Who thought two party outfits was enough to get you through the year? Barely enough for a week. Embrace the sheer joy of a rail of beautiful dresses that you get to wear all the time.
Forget about holidays lying on the beach from now on your vacations will be planned around dance festivals. Swing and Swim in Greece, dancing on the beach then diving into the ocean to cool down, what’s not to love? Gastro Swing in Northern Spain – eating, drinking and dancing – I call that heaven. The world is a swing dancers’ playground. And everywhere you go friends are waiting to swirl you around in their welcoming arms.
Blowing the budget
So new dancers beware of the quite literally ‘high cost’ of dancing as you add a fat new line to your budget.
But if your dance addiction is running out of hand and into overdraft this January – check out Matthew Bournes’ brilliant show at Sadler’s Wells until January 29th then touring the country and coming to Norwich at the end of February. And be warned.
New Year’s Eve
The first hour of this New Year found me dancing like it was 1977. Forget the intricate steps of Balboa, the tight eight beat framing of Lindy Hop, the complex patterns of Collegiate Shag – this was a forty year regression to being a teenager in Birmingham. I shimmied to soul classics, pogoed to punk, got down and dirty to the reggae beat, and skanked to the Ska rhythms.
It nearly killed me!