Once again, theres a first time for a whole bunch of things. I found this out to my advantage on Tuesday night when I went Salsa dancing for the first time. Could I feel like any more of a twat than I did for the first twenty minutes? Probably not. But at least I wasn’t the only one.
I have been putting this off for months and as the proud instigator of this funny business looked on - my talented dancing friend Lydia – I fumbled my way through the moves as twenty men and women facing each other in a trembling line attempted to put one foot in front of the other and make sweet music together…remind you of anything?
Learning something new is hard at any age but take it from me, it’s much more of a stretch when you’re older. Which is a good thing. It’s nice to keep challenging yourself. Learning to drive, learning to ski, learning to write…I have done all of these things to varying degrees of expertise in the last five years and I have loved all of them….but it was always an effort to get started. How awkward can you feel? Even now when I get into a car that’s not my own, everything feels like its in the wrong place. I feel nervous, tentative, a bit scared to touch anything in case I blow the whole thing up….remind you of anything else?
Actually I had no intention of comparing all sorts of daily activities and skills to the losing of virginity and the subsequent having of sex but the parallels are hard to ignore. We all feel tentative and scared when we step onto new territory, however far ahead we might feel like we have got in life. Every new partner we meet can make us feel like it’s the first time – and that’s a nice thing. Everyone is different. What works for one person might not work for another and the only way to find out is to develop a genuine sense of intimacy by learning how to communicate with each other.
No, what I really wanted to write about today was this. It occurred to me as I glanced around the room on Tuesday night that people dance for all sorts of reasons. Sometimes men come to clubs like this because they want to meet women – I encountered a few of those on Tuesday night. And sometimes women come to clubs like this for the very same reason. But that was not the overriding impression I got as the syncopated throng of arms and legs moved elegantly around the room in time to the music.
There was something really beautiful about what was happening in front of me in this grotty dive in Charing Cross Road as people from all walks of life gave in to the urge to dance with each other. Most of them don’t know each other from Adam but that didn’t seem to matter. You could see how much they needed to do this. Perhaps to escape the reality of daily life in all it’s boredom, routine and credit crunch related stress. But there was something more poetic to it than that. There seemed to be something deeply satisfying in this unique combination of music, mind and movement. This coming together of different personalities – and bodies – to create something really unique.
And it can’t be repeated. As we left the building, two old dancing partners of Lydia’s arrived. The taller of the two insisted on a dance with my friend before we left. He was no looker but boy could the man dance. This sounds judgemental but I have to mention this because despite the fact that he was no Brad Pitt, there was no doubt in my mind that he could have piqued the interest of any woman in the room. I couldn’t take my eyes off him.
‘It doesn’t matter how many times two people dance the same dance together’, said his friend, ‘they will never dance it the same way twice’.
And what they did do together was astonishing. It wasn’t planned, it wasn’t choreographed but it was two people doing something very fluid and very intimate together that didn’t involve any sex. Its close, its hot and its sweaty - but it goes no further than that.
At least in the case of these two. I’m sure that many a dance on this dance floor has danced right off the floor and into the nearest bedroom but it doesn’t seem to be the point to me. And actually, when I come to think of it, I don’t really have a point today. Does everything have to have a point? Is it point-less if it doesn’t reach a conclusion? I hope not. Just like the dance itself, sometimes one just has to do something and enjoy the moment. It doesn’t need to go anywhere. You can do it just for the hell of it, or just because it feels good. The ending doesn’t really matter.