I’ve danced my way through many milestones in my life. I had dancing lessons as a child – ballet, a short stint at tap and modern and strangely, a fair few years of Greek dancing. Who actually does Greek dancing? I’m not even Greek. I digress…I debuted as a dalmation puppy and worked my way through several Summer shows and a handful of exams. Nothing to write home about and I wasn’t notably good, but it did give me a first taste of how much fun can be had if you just dance.
The older I’ve become, the more confidence I’ve built on the dancefloor and now it’s my social life sanctuary. I’m not brilliant at small-talk or networking, but give me a bit of space and some quality tunes and I’m there. In day-to-day life, my head tells me it doesn’t matter what other people think. My heart often suggests the opposite. That is unless I’m dancing. Then I couldn’t give a flying fondu about anyone’s opinion. I’ve got sunshine in my pocket and good soul in my feet. I’ll unleash my inner Louis Spence at any given opportunity and all seems right with the world. It makes me happy and that’s ultimately what counts.
I’ve Flashdanced my way around the world and even showcased my moves on our wedding day, complete with full-length dress tucked in my (sensible) knickers. My eldest daughter flew into the world like a cannonball (40 minutes from start to finish) after a particularly energetic rendition of Michael Sembello’s ‘Maniac’ saw her head crowning whilst I was on the toilet. I incorporated some class shapes into my labour with #3 which lead the midwife to ask if this was normal behaviour for me. Of course, my Mum didn’t hesitate to respond with a resounding, “completely”. There have been some routines that I would rather not remember, largely alcohol-fuelled and set to a sex-themed song. The kind of thing that no middle-aged mother who doesn’t get out much should inflict on anyone. Voulez-vous couchez avec moi ce soi? Erm, no thanks…
Nowadays, my weekly Zumba class is the saviour of my soul. It’s the only exercise I’ve ever done that I actually look forward to. I can rock up with the weight of the world on my shoulders but an hour later, I’m several metaphorical stones lighter. It’s a child-free hour of shimmying, shuffles and salsa and I’m beaming throughout. My world is definitely a better place when I’m dancing and I try and incorporate this into my parenting approach whenever and wherever possible….
- Use the power of dance to stun the children into silence. A nearly ten year old can be stopped in their tracks, even in the throes of a Fortnite meltdown, when Mum breaks into a full-scale rendition of SL2’s ‘On A Ragga Tip’. This is especially powerful when used in conjunction with my other parenting hack that I’ll discuss at a later point, “I can sing louder than you can shout.” I’m not sure if this is met with disbelief or disgust, but it makes me laugh, so who cares.
- Turn a tantrum into a tango. Grabbing a small child and frogmarching them across the living room in a tight Argentinian clutch always ends in stifled sniggers. Cry in your most Spanish of accents, “Dance with me, my child” and they’ve invariably forgotten why they’re breaking down within seconds.
- Referee warring siblings through the power of interpretative dance. Offer a fair representation of each side of the argument and involve plenty of flying leaps. In a household of four children, I find that half the children will be laughing and the other half will have walked off shaking their heads. Either way, it’s not a problem solved, but a problem dissipated. Failing this, you can always go for the group hug/slow dance whilst chanting the mantra, “Dance it out kids, dance it out.”
- Whining + wining and you’re winning. Respond to a child’s whining dancehall stylee and match them with some wining. The sight of Mummy gyrating her hips and shouting, “Wine for me darling” and they usually shut up swiftly. (edit: Definition of ‘wining’ – a form of dance that involves the gyration of hips, can be fast or slow and is performed mainly to West Indian music like Reggae, Calypso and Soca).
- Use dancing as a weapon. Especially when out in public. “Honestly, if you don’t stop moaning I am going to have to break into dance.” As I said before, I don’t care what anyone thinks when I’m dancing and I’m not afraid to employ that sentiment ANYWHERE. This works most effectively with a pre-teen boy.
- When the going gets tough, the tough get dancing. When you’re at home and feel like lying on the floor and sobbing because it’s all just too much, whack up some music, take some time out and prance around the house with gay abandon. It doesn’t matter if you’re home alone or have a full house, it’s a better option than screaming and is highly cathartic.
Unlike the popular saying that you should dance like no-one’s watching, I like to pretend that everyone is watching. They’re watching and everyone is in total awe of my indisputable poise/grace/skill/agility. I’m young, sexy, unequivocally cool and basically hot to trot. My kitchen is definitely for dancing and if in doubt, I dance it out…I just need to make sure I don’t catch an illusion-shattering glimpse of myself in the oven door.