I am a middle-aged street dancer and proud of it. My journey to street dance fulfilment has been a long one, spanning a good 30 years or so.
Like all little girls, I did ballet from the age of 3. Somewhere along the line I picked up modern. I was crap at both of them. I wasn’t a natural. I was too big, too awkward and had no sense of rhythm. At the age of 7, I admitted defeat and gave up.
By the time I was a teenager, I seriously regretted it. It is still one of my biggest regrets to this day. I enjoyed dance lessons at school. Although I was still crap. But the only girl who was even crapper than me when I was little was now one of the best dancers in the school! And that hurt.
I joined a teenage disco class – in which the more established members looked down their (not inconsiderable, as I recall) noses at my friends and I. We weren’t good enough to dance to Whitney Houston. Spider Girl said so. I joined an adult tap class – in which my two fellow class members were old enough to be my mother and grandmother respectively.
Then I started clubbing. I was a good club dancer. Confident and uninhibited and happy to dance to any sort of music, however cool or uncool. My lack of alcohol meant I could keep time while others just swayed around with a glazed expression.
Dancing was a useful tool. When you’re sober, talking to drunk people can be difficult. If you dance, you don’t have to talk AND people think you’re really fun and cool. Result!
Then I had kids. No time for clubbing and anyway I was starting to feel too old.
My sister joined the street dance class a year before me. I wasn’t really interested, until I went to see her at their annual show. After that, I couldn’t join the class fast enough. I HAD to dance!
I’ve been dancing for 18 months now. I’ll be honest, I’m not great. My clubbing skills (still there, I’m sure) haven’t served me well. It’s easy to dance and interpret music yourself. It’s not so easy to actually LEARN a dance. Well, not for me, anyway. I am totally blaming my age. This argument would maybe stand up if it wasn’t for the fact that the best dancer in the class is just two years younger than me. I am usually half a beat behind everyone else (sometimes half a beat in front, if I forget a move) and rely heavily on watching other class members to get me through.
I’ve learned tutting, popping, waving and rolling (look them up!). I like the tutting and popping, I can’t get the hang of rolling. It’s all tits and ass. I maintain that if you have no tits and ass you are never going to manage it. That’s my excuse, and I’m sticking to it.
Recently I was well chuffed to get ‘Dancer of the Term’. I tried to play it cool, but I was fooling no-one. I was over the moon. I know I’m not the best dancer and never will be, but my little trophy shows I’m trying hard, making good progress, gaining in confidence (both in my dancing and as a class member) and showing commitment.
I was also chuffed when one of my fellow dancers asked me if I’d always danced. OK, she’d been drinking and was probably being polite, but maybe my dancing is starting to be just a little bit convincing.
I dance all the time, always have done. Whenever I’m on my own, I’m dancing. I dance when I’m hoovering, I dance when I’m driving. Well, sat in traffic queues anyway. My musical tastes have become more urban since I started street dance, but I can street dance to indie, rock or pop too. Queen works particularly well, I find.
If you see a middle aged woman tutting at traffic lights, that will be me 🙂