Every once in a while I remember that I’m a 24 year old single, attractive female and that I should try to enjoy that while I can because it’s not going to last forever. It can be hard to break out of my cranky old British man persona but last Saturday night I did and oh it felt so nice to be young and dancing again. I actually had a drink or two, went out, met new boys, met new girls, spent a little cash and most importantly I went dancing. Oh how I’ve missed dancing. I haven’t really been properly out dancing since Comic Con last year and I wasn’t even properly single then. There’s something very wrong with that. So since I wasn’t going to make another engagement on time and was looking at a night in doing nothing, once again, I hesitated for a beat when a friend from yoga let me know she was going out that evening. Then I said “What the hell is wrong with you. Act your age already!” and asked if there was room for one more. So so glad.
What makes dancing so cathartic, so therapeutic and just so damn much fun? It’s the release I think. It’s physical, if not always sexual, and requires that you trust in your body rather than letting your mind do all the work. Overthinking means you lose the beat. If you have a partner you need to be able to really let your body win out and react to theirs. If you let your brain worry about where his or her foot is going next, by the time you figure it out they are already two more steps ahead. That’s not to say it involves totally turning off your mind because I certainly feel like mine is still racing but it’s in a reactive mode rather than predictive. That’s a rare thing for me to be able to do and enjoy. As such a Type-A(sshole) I find myself craving the ability to plan and control the majority of the time so finding a situation where I can be comfortable not doing that is rare and worth relishing. In retrospect I wish I had taken ballet lessons when they had been offered as a child.
Now I don’t know as much about it as I do food but I do know that the concept of “Dance Therapy” is something that’s been around since the 60’s. It’s distinguishable from just general physical activity but I will admit that even just getting your body moving whether it’s dancing or chopping wood is going to cause an endorphin release and improve mood. How effective is it? Well it can depend on what you’re treating. I’m not sure that there’s as much of a verifiable success record that dance therapy can cure severe mental disorders like schizophrenia but it has shown significant impacts in the lives of the elderly, those recovering from brain injuries and in autistic children. There aren’t any recorded negative effects (except maybe a sprained ankle or two) from what I’ve read on the topic.
Going on Saturday didn’t cure all my problems. It didn’t end my celibate streak. The fact that I haven’t even so much as kissed someone since July rather horrified one of my friends. But it did reconnect me a little with the girl I’m supposed to be acting the age of. Plus the nice part about being on the dance floor is that no one is talking. No one is asking me what I do for a living and being impressed, or intimidated or suffering inferiority complex. Instead it’s pretty simple: can you keep up? For some reason people seem to be more up to that challenge on the dance floor than anywhere else with me. Of course that might just be because I’m not a very good dancer…. White girl dancing isn’t exactly that poetic or challenging is it? But I do it with gleeful abandon regardless of how good I am.
I remember being little at a dance party at my karate studio. I chose the karate over the ballet lessons. I don’t really regret that as much but I do wish I’d found a way to do ballet too. Anyway I just remember that I was there with my first grade “boyfriend” who got tired and went home after only a short time. I spent the entire party hopping around, throwing punches and dancing. I remember hearing my Mom say to someone “Men are always going to struggle to keep up with her on the dance floor.” Little did I know at that age that what she wasn’t just talking about the dancing. Either way I need to get out a little more and act my age. Even if I’m just dancing on my own—no wild oats need to be sown for me to enjoy myself.
For the mornings after this is a fantastic quick bread that comes together using the time trusted muffin method. This means it’s simple and can be done even if that night before involved enough liquid courage for the dancefloor to leave you suffering some of the afterness of badness. You can use the recipe to make muffins or a loaf for easy slicing. It’s filling and delicious—yes even to someone like me who doesn’t really like oatmeal.
Dorie’s Oatmeal Loaf
From Dorie Greenspan’s “Baking from my home to yours”