The story goes that I learned to dance before I could walk. While that’s clearly my parents exaggerating, dancing was definitely my first love.
There are lots of home movies of my older sister and I in the early 1970s boogieing down with our aunts in our Queens living room. We had a stereo system that looked like a piece of furniture, housing a record player and speakers. My aunts were fantastic dancers and made sure that my sister and I were going to carry on the family tradition.
Dancing has always been one of the few things in my life that truly takes me away to a singular place of exhilaration and joy. My earliest dancing memory was when I was five years old at my aunt’s wedding. I remember being on the dance floor in my long fancy blue dress (my sister had a coordinating purple one) and having the time of my life.
I took some dance classes when I was a young teenager for fun and in college for easy credits, but that’s as far as any real training went. Dancing wasn’t a serious pursuit but I didn’t care. I am not in the least bit athletic, although I used to play tennis, but I have never played a team sport and can still remember how much I hated soccer, softball and even relay races in day camp. But I’ve always had good rhythm and so it was one of the few physical activities at which I felt like I excelled. When I am dancing, I am in the zone. And I’m usually the first on and the last off the dance floor at a party.
Two years ago, my dear friend’s daughter was getting Bat Mitzvah’d. My friend wanted to surprise her with a flash mob dance and asked me if I would participate. Hell, yes!
At the time, things were very difficult in my marriage, but I was so excited to be a part of the flash mob. I practiced the moves every day and at the event when the DJ gave us the signal, our group sprung into action. It was a blast. I was completely in my element. Afterwards, my friend paid me an incredible compliment. She said that even though I had been going through a tough time, I still showed up with a smile on my face to dance.
I started dancing with my daughter when she was a newborn, and it’s become a part of who she is. She loves to dance. She’s got a beautiful sense of rhythm and musicality. And I love watching her. Like me, she is transported to another place that clearly brings her so much joy.
My daughter and I often have impromptu dance parties in our kitchen. These are some of my favorite times. I crank the music and forget about table manners and homework and packing lunch. I am totally in the moment, feeling the beat, letting it move me. In that moment, I am genuinely myself, and I can tell that my daughter senses that in her own way. She always wants to keep dancing.
Each year, I make one simple New Year’s resolution. One year it was about hosting more social events at my house. Another year it was about eating more greens. This year, my New Year’s resolution is to dance more. It’s a piece of my true self, and I need to experience that more than ever.
I can’t wait to dance into 2016.