My youth may be as distant as the Age of Dinosaurs – and, indeed, I may myself more closely resemble Velociraptor than Venus these days! – but I am damned if I am going to distance myself from the power, passion and pleasure music and dance continue to provide!
‘Dance, then, wherever you may be:
I am the Lord of the Dance,’ said he…
I adore dancing! It, along with music, is one of my main ways of expressing myself. In my case, it is not ballet or tap (though I did both as a child); no, it is more animal, more spontaneous, than that! It is, I suppose, my spirit exalting; my body a-whirl with sensual delight; it is the flaring out of joy and the instinctive melding with music and beat and rhythm.
It is not about proficiency of style, or accuracy of foot and arm work. It is not about being beautiful or sexy or a magnet for men on the traditional Saturday Night Bop outing. I do not dance round my handbag; in fact, said accessory is likely to be the first thing chucked out of the ring! It is most certainly not about remaining neat and clean, fresh and well made-up. Frankly, the way I go for it on the dance floor would cause mascara to do a Nile Inundation within seconds (that’s if I wore any!) – and my energetic, head-banging approach is certainly not conducive to an image of docile womanhood.
Because I am unconstrained, I regularly clear dance floors and leave heaps of humanity in my wake. I am, I should imagine, a nightmare to dance with because I am not gentle and sweet and slightly seductive; I am more akin to King Kong on something fragrantly illegal, if you get my drift! Only one man, in the past thirty years, has had the courage to take me on – and call a draw! – upon the dance arena. Most, understandably, choose easier targets!
So what, you may ask, has brought this on? Yesterday, trawling YouTube, I came across a fantastic jig which was new to me. As some of you will be aware, I am part Irish and have a real connection with traditional music from the Emerald Isle. So, this jig – The Swallowtail Jig – had me tapping my toes and reaching for my musical instruments in a trice.
I wanted to play it with a passion difficult to explain. Fiddle was my first thought. But, oh woe, the A string peg flew out and ricocheted upon the back door – and, impatient to capture the tune ere it escaped, I could not be arsed to go through all that palaver when a family of recorders were at hand (and far easier to play!).
How do I learn tunes? The same way I learn dances, I guess: Through my body, ears, bones. I listen, intently, sort out which note it starts on – and then go for it! Not easy when the original is played as far as Katy Adelson plays it. Goddess, but she’s good: Wish I had half her fiddle-playing ability!
I then play it over and over until I’ve got it – sometimes recording myself on mini videos as a learning doodad!
I can now play it, reasonably fast, on the descant recorder. And this, my friends, leads back to my title Lady of the Dance. You see, playing Irish jigs inevitably makes me want to dance! I was, you might say, in the mood for a damn good caper!
Alerted to a gig in the G & P, by one of my muso friends, I traipsed down there at nine. Crawfish Junction, a band my pal and I have seen before in Bristol, contains two friends and so I was keen to go along and support them.
A fabulous night all round. A gaggle of us girlies (stretching that word as far as it can go before it snaps right into ‘Crone’!) got up and boogied to the beat. Perhaps fortunately, there wasn’t enough room for me to really get into my usual, room-clearing, stride – but I went for it as best I could, and it was wonderful: So liberating, therapeutic and expressive!
Of course, I ache like buggery this morning; I am also possessed of that post-live band zinging in the head and partial deafness; my hair, which was wet a a dog’s post-storm pelt last night, has dried into rat’s tails as per – but, frankly, who gives a toss?
For those moments dancing upon a pub carpet, and catching a tune with my nimble fingers on an instrument, I felt fully alive, ecstatic and absolutely in tune with the jigs and reels, the dancing urge, the joy of movement which is such an important part of my soul.