Not the last waltz

2 Oct

Total ecstacy

There is a scene in a film I watched recently where the lead actress is on a fairground waltzer with a guy. It’s different from any waltzer I’ve been on before, because it’s inside and it’s dark.  Video Killed The Radio Star is playing loud, and the expression on the girl’s face as she’s swinging around inside the car is one of pure joy. Just watching her I felt joyous too.

A ride on a waltzer is nothing fancy. It costs about three quid. For the girl in the film the thrill is the guy she’s sitting next to, the speed, the flashing lights in the dark, and the music. Watching her (which I have done again and again in my mind) is like being in the very best club, having taken the very best drugs at the exact moment that you spot someone across the room that you want to fall in love with – or simply spend the night with. When the ride stops and the lights go up, the fantasy is usually over. But the feeling remains for sometime after.

Recently I’ve been trying to suppress my anger. I keep pushing it down with well-learned mantras, food, drink, heavy sighs and hard swallows. Nobody wants to read about anger, so I’ll keep it brief.

I’m angry because I’m tired and my husband’s always working; I’m angry at my children because they have a habit of needing me too much and their bedtime seems to be getting later and later; I’m angry because I’m only ever one trip to the cashpoint away from exceeding my overdraft; I’m angry because I keep being optioned for jobs but then never picked; I’m angry because my computer’s broken and I’m having to type on a machine that was made when Steve Jobs had bumfluff.

It’s nobody’s fault. It’s probably my own. It’s just that I’m one big bag of angry at the moment and I need to find an antidote.

I want to be the woman on the waltzer. I want to feel the thrill of the ride. It’s hard to know where I get my kicks anymore – certainly very rarely from champagne or cocaine. Sometimes I kid myself that a state of ecstacy can be reached by eating a three-pack of Magnums in quick succession, but I feel nothing but gluttony and fatigue.

Skint, knackered, furious and in loco parentis. Not even a waltzer would offer me a ride. But I’m not entirely without hope.

At the weekend I remembered my dancing days. It’s weird to forget something that made me feel euphoric so much of the time. I don’t often forget good friends, but I seem to have forgotten dancing. The need to sleep got in the way.

I used to dance all the time. The first time I ‘danced out’ (as opposed to in a ballet class with a plump middle-aged woman and a geriatric on the piano) was to T’Pau’s China in Your Hand. There were plenty of sweaty embraces with a boy named John but I don’t remember kissing.

I then took Dance GCSE and realised my co-ordination skills were pretty diabolical. The class went right, and I went left. I made the lindy-hop look like a morris dance, and when we performed my friend, a good foot shorter and two stone lighter than me, had to lift all 12 stone of me high in the air.

My mother was often in the audience for our performances and would watch through her fingers in shame, pretending I wasn’t her daughter. We named our dances things like  Money’s On The Table (A Prostitute Reminisces) and leapt across the stage to a soundtrack of Tori Amos. We thought we were terribly avant-garde.

Then my friend and I, aged 15,  discovered a basement club on Old Compton Street. We stayed at his father’s flat on our weekend breaks from school and we saved all our pocket money to go out dancing on a Saturday night. The club (Barcelona, I think) wasn’t cool, but it was packed and we danced all night. We drank nothing but coke from plastic cups, before going home in the early hours. No drugs, no alcohol. Just dancing.

In my late teens I was in Manchester. They got clubs right. I’d just missed the Hacienda, but all around the Northern Quarter you could dance to everything that was good to dance to: The Fall, The Clash, Aretha, Otis Redding, New Order, Blondie. I also pulled a lot of blokes who spoke like Ian Brown.

Then, like Tina Turner’s Private Dancer, I danced for money to some terrible r’n’b and Nickelback. I always made a point of asking for Another Brick In The Wall when it was my turn to parade on stage. It was seedy and not much fun, but weirdly enough the dancing on the stage bit, away from all the octopus hands, was always thrilling.

At the time I lived with my sister and when my daughter was asleep at night we’d often pull the curtains shut, put some music on and dance. God knows what we looked like, but we enjoyed ourselves. When I got a babysitter, we went out too, to our friend’s tiny club on Gerrard street where we danced some more with people we adored.

Years have passed and I barely dance anymore. The occasional house party perhaps, but at home, never.

Call me a spoilsport, but I don’t want to go to some large basement in a Brixton church to dance with people who actually know what a kundalini is and are trying to find their own rhythm, regardless of the music’s beat.

I went to a club recently with my sister. The music was fantastic, but it was too packed to dance. At home I occassionally dance on my own, but it’s a bit predictable after a while, and there’s no-one to mirror. My husband has never danced: not even at our wedding.

If I were putting an ad online and could be sure that it would only be viewed by people who didn’t know what their kundalini was, I’d say this:

“Wanted: a warehouse with disco lights in which to dance the night away. A DJ to play good music: Prince, Talking Heads, David Bowie, that amazing song by Afrika Bambaataa featuring John Lydon and some cool new music that we don’t know about yet but that won’t make us feel self-conscious when we dance to it. Only people who really want to dance are allowed in the room. All ages, but no posers, onlookers or Harvester restaurant advert bad disco please. No beard-strokers or joyless minimal electronic music. A well stocked, well manned bar. Oh, and an ajoining room with a waltzer in it please.”


2 Responses to “Not the last waltz”

  1. nicky October 2, 2012 at 9:10 pm #

    Please put that party on. I’m looking for an excuse to leave NZ and return to the UK. That would do it.

    • mothersruined October 3, 2012 at 12:41 pm #

      I’m really thinking there are a lot of people who need to dance… And even better if it means you come back to the UK!

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