Lessons From The Dance Floor

Outside of Taylor's Nightclub & Bistro

Last Thursday afternoon, my husband took Monkey to a fencing tournament in Arlington, Virginia. While they were at The Capitol Clash, I spent hours working on my book. I didn’t eat or watch television; I simply wrote. And it was fabulous.

But by Friday late afternoon, I got antsy and started thinking it would be kind of a good idea to get out of bed and move my body a little bit, maybe go dancing. For the record, the last time I went clubbing was when I lived in New Orleans back in the 1990’s, so you can imagine my surprise when I learned that there is, in fact, a joint less than five miles from my home where I could actually get down and get funky.

So I started asking (and by asking, I mean begging) friends to go dancing with me that night. After hours of foolishness spent on Facebook (and the phone), I realized that there was simply no one willing or able to go with me. My first rejection came when my bestie sighed and said that, while she loved me, she was going to have to let me down. This was followed by a handful of other friends who felt compelled to tell me everything they were doing with their children that night that prevented them from going dancing with me. As the hours passed, my beloved neighbor emailed to let me know she was already in her jammies while another buddy reminded me of her back injury. Finally, at 9pm my pal Lisa said if she hadn’t blown out her knee she would have totally gone with me.

“Really? I asked.

“No, not really,” she giggled, “That place is gross.”

Even my gay friends declined.

Dejected, I crawled back into bed and wrote prolifically until just after midnight, at which point I flipped off my light. As I lay there in bed, I thought to myself: Why didn’t I just go alone? What was there to be afraid of? I didn’t need an entourage. I wasn’t going out to get laid. I just wanted to shake my groove thing a little. Snuggling into my comforter, I decided that I would go the next night.

At 9:30pm Saturday night, I gussied myself up (and by “gussying myself up,” I mean I put on a pair of clean jeans and a black short-sleeve t-shirt) and headed over to Taylor’s Nightclub and Bistro – which, by the way, is a total misnomer. Taylor’s is no “bistro.” When I think “bistro,” I conjure up a small, informal restaurant that serves wine – usually found in France. Let’s be clear: Taylor’s is a dive. No one is serving bread or wine or olives at Taylor’s. Which, by the way, was fine. All I wanted to do was shake my groove thing.

A blustery Saturday night with about four inches of fresh, slippery snow on the roads, I was surprised to see that the place was, in fact, packed. One dance floor featured an eclectic (read: skanky) mix of women wearing really short dresses and really tall heels doing a lot of bumping and grinding. Sure, there were men on the prowl, but they were harmless enough. There was even a cluster of older moms, laughing and enjoying a night out together.

I made my way to dance floor number two where a disco ball turned and strobe lights flashed. It was much less crowded. The DJ played hits from the 70s and 80s on a warped turn-table. Much more my speed.

I warmed up to “White Lines” and “Cold Hearted Snake” when (gasp) Janet Jackson’s “Pleasure Principle” came on. Sidebar: You have to understand that in 1989, I memorized every single move in that video and I still remember most of the sequences, so I started going full force. It all came back to me. My God, I thought, I am even wearing the black shirt and jeans. (Note: there were no chairs or microphones to topple or throw, so I had to improvise during those parts, and while it was tempting, I did not tie my shirt into a front knot.)

Anyway, near the end of the song, Janet starts throwing her head around and striking these tight popping poses, so I dug deep into my old repertoire and tried to recreate my old moves.

Keep in mind that I had not had one single drink.

Not even a gingle ale.

But suddenly the room started to tip, and I started to topple. You know when you have put too many towels in your washing machine and it starts making that kachung-kachung-kachung sound and you know things are unbalanced, and then you have to go in the laundry room and move things around so that things run smoothly again? Well, it was like that.

Except I was alone in a bar, so when I grabbed the wall for support, I am sure I looked mad drunk.

And the sensation  wouldn’t go away.

The DJ actually announced something like: “If you’ve been drinking, for everyone’s safety, please stay off the dance floor.”

I am pretty sure he was talking to me.

And then, I felt a vibration in my back pocket. Retrieving my phone, I saw that it was my husband, texting to say the airplane had landed. I had to get them at the airport, but I was in no condition to drive. I grabbed my coat, prayed the cold night air would make me feel better, and staggered out into the snow (and by staggered, I mean I zigzagged across the parking lot). If a police office saw me, he would definitely have demanded I take a Breathalyzer. It was embarrassing.

Once in my car, I waited for the weird swirling feeling to stop completely (which it did, thank goodness), and, as I drove to the airport to pick up my family, this twit had a sad epiphany: At forty-sumthin-sunthin years old, I can no longer channel my inner Janet Jackson.

From here on out, as Billy Idol once sang, I’ll be “Dancin’ With Myself.”

Probably in my own living room.

Anybody else miss being in their 20s, even once in a while?

(If you’ve never seen “The Pleasure Principle,” please enjoy Janet’s moves from 1989. Just imagine my face on her body.)😉

49 responses to “Lessons From The Dance Floor

  1. I am such a terrible dancer. I won’t dare get out there. Weddings and such are so uncomfortable. I tell the ladies I am a friggin Baptist and ain’t allowed to dance and take my “emergency hide in the corner prop out of my back pocket”(crossword puzzle) so I can hide in the corner. No I am not anti social or reclusive. I just look like a jerk on the dance floor and have enough self awareness not to be the last in the room to know it. PS I think all the rest of them look stupid too. On the other hand, my soul can dance reading certain poetry.

    • Carl, that is absolutely unacceptable. Every woman wants to get out there and shake her lovely lady lumps once in a while. And I used to dance. A lot. Now it is strictly confined to bar mitzvahs. Very limiting.

      That said, the WORST feeling is knowing the man you love is sitting across the room doing a crossword puzzle! That feels like the worst kind of rejection. Juts sayin’. If you ever go dancin’ with someone down there in Miami, make sure you at least watch her shake her rump-shaker.😉

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  3. Heather Thompson

    This is why I do my dancing at home which I was doing Saturday night. No need to fear the oddly shaped body part flinging around and injuring anyone. Well except the cat & dog. When the room starts spinning I can collapse on the sofa.

    I know the lighting isn’t right, the music not quite loud enough but my dog has some moves.

    • Heather, if I had a cat or a dog I would never have been driven to dance outside my house. I think the strobe lights gave me a mini seizure! Seriously, can you imagine? I was positively spinning until I walked out and sat in my car. From here on out, I’ll just crank the iPod in the family room.

  4. Was kinda bummed I was already in my jammies. I hve been to Taylors before, and it’s also an interesting place to people watch. We’ll have to try again, but this time no spinning!

    • Hi Jammie-Wearing-Neighbor!
      It would have been fun to have gone dancing with you — especially because you are still actively dancing. Although I’m not sure how well the tap moves would have gone over on the dance floor. At least I could have leaned on you when the world started to slide sideways. Smooches!😉

  5. For this we sent you to college? Go to your room, young lady. You are grounded! We will talk about this when your father comes home. Oye gevalt!

  6. Pleasure Principle, that’s classic!!! And I share your pain, I often miss my dancing days but so few other people I know seem to. I had Pandora on the other day and heard ‘Walk Like an Egyptian’ and found myself dancing out of habit, and continuing to jive to several other eighties classics. It wasn’t too bad. Moral (?) of the story: as Billy Idol taught us, you can dance with yourself, but it’s best done at home and more fun with other people.

    • WoPro:
      It was humbling, to say the least. But seriously I looked good, you know… up until the point where I couldn’t stand up anymore. (And I have real video footage to prove it!) Who would have thought it would be so hard to “zoom-a-zoom-zoom-zoom”! (Street cred to Dr. Dré there.) Que sera sera.

      When “Walk Like an Egyptian” came on, did you do all the cool hand motions? What am I saying? Of course you did!😉

  7. You are inspiring. The only place I dance now is in my kitchen; it’s the easiest way to spot I’m happy. Although I am much better dancer now b/c I no longer give a sh–.

    I occasionally miss being in my twenties. It is now known as the decade where “I used to.” I used to travel. I used to be able to drink more than two glasses of wine without getting insomnia. I used to stay up past 11. I used to dance on tables. Okay, that was only once, but still.

    You go, Janet Jackson…

    From your fellow 80s-grad…

  8. Renee, you already know I like that you did this. Let me add that even if I wanted to go out dancing alone, silly thoughts such as who will watch my purse while I’m shaking my rump-shaker? would prevent me from doing so. I wouldn’t be able to get out of my own way. Good for you.

    • At first, I had the same worries, but then I saw there were lovely little hooks right on the dance floor so that you could have dance AND watch your purse/coat as you channeled your inner Michael Jackson. Or Paula Abdul. Or Lisa Lisa and the Cult Jam.

      I might have to go back.

      The bad memories seem to be fading already.

  9. OMG! This was one of the funniest bloggies! I only had time to read it and not refresh myself with the video! I giggled all the way to work thinking about it and you. Even when I walked into my computer lab to a virus on all the computers I was still smiling! I decided to wait until I viewed the video to see what you were talking about. I have tears streaming down my face! Tell me you did the chair tip and back flip???!!!

  10. Anyone who can perform ANY dance sequences from the 80s has my utmost respect and admiration.

    On the rare occasions that I go out these days, I try to do some of the old 80s moves to add a bit of comedic spice to the night. I generally fail the dance moves, but always manage to add the comedy.

    Thanks for the morning grin, keep on dancing!

    • Are you kidding, if I didn’t “seize up” I would have kept going. I was hoping for some Michael Jackson so I could have gotten all P.Y.T. all over the place. Thanks for the respect and admiration. I’m actually a pretty good teacher, too … but Lord let me be remembered for my dancing!😉

  11. You had me right there with you as I read this! One of your best ever, but I am a fan of telling personal stories that involve my own humiliation. It’s safe here right?
    As far as channeling the inner 20 something, I never was a dancer although I did my share of dance floor courting in sandals and shorts.
    These days I put my sweet moves on display in videos at Christmastime on my blog. No 1989 Janet there, but my sweater can definitely relate.

    • Clay, I was redonkulous. If you were there it would have been so much better. The funniest part of your response is your mention of the words “sweet moves.” No lie, every Saturday night between 7-9pm, I run “Smooth Moves” which involves me dancing to whatever the iTunes free download of the week is. At 9pm sharp, I promptly delete my moves. It’s hilarious. Should I write a blog on this and post one of my finer videos? Watch, that’ll be the one to get me Freshly Pressed, right?

      Then you can sit back in your Cliff Huxtable sweater and really laugh.😉

  12. You blog is a hoot! I loved this one. I give you credit for venturing out alone. No fear and taking on the world! Were the men harmless? Did they try to dance with you? Maybe next time you will be more successful sticking with smooth moves. I remember the days of putting on a leather skirt and feeling like the world was looking at me. Now the only thing looking at me is my stuffed dog. Kudos to you!

  13. Oh my gosh, this post put such a big smile on my face. Thanks for the laugh.

    For happy hour tonight, I went to the local office watering hole with a few girls to celebrate one’s 35th birthday. Another mid-30s pal says, “Do you remember when you were young and you’d go to a club and see some older ladies out having a good time and they seemed SO OLD and your young self thought, ‘How do they even KNOW about this place?’ Well, my friends and I realized this weekend, ‘We are now THOSE women!'”

    How come youth looks so recently behind us, when age seemed so far away at the time?

    • We are SOOOO those women. When did THAT happen?😉

      Remember those Oil of Olay commercials where a gorgeous woman used to say, “The signs of aging? I intend to fight that everyday.” A radical feminist at 20, I used to make fun of that commercial and scoff at women who considered plastic surgery, face lifts and boob lifts – calling them vain. Well, come to realize, I was also packed into a nice tight little body back then. Now I find myself thinking, Hmmmm, maybe a little Botox wouldn’t be such a bad thing …

      My how our perspective changes after forty!😉

  14. I still feel like I’m in my early 20’s. But last summer I discovered that when I try to run as fast as I did in my 20’s, I now blow out both my hamstrings.

    • Ouchie. Sorry to hear that, Larry. I guess your body revolted on you, eh? Gave you a “Just-who-the-Hell-do-you-think-you-are?” moment.

      Most of my guy friends have blown their hammies while trying to be Michael Jordan. Did I mention most of my friends are 40 year old Jewish guys?😉

  15. Oh you crack me up! So now you’re in your 40s and discovering an inner-ear imbalance? Well, anything’s possible. I had one of those topsy-turvy moments after a huge throw your head back to laugh incidents. Go ahead and keep dancin’ with yourself, but go ahead and shake up the dance floor, too, (you naughty thang) and just LET them all wonder if you’re drunk or not.

    • Seriously! Anything that involves jerking my head around is a disaster these days.

      I’m soooo off roller coasters. Life is NOT downhill from here. As far as I’m concerned, it had better be a nice smooth, straight line.

      As far as appearing to be drunk in public, I have a HUGE aversion to that. THAT is terribly unattractive, I must say (especially the puking in the nearest bush part). That is probably why I had such a strong reaction to the experience on the dance floor. This control freak lost control – and I hadn’t even done anything remotely naughty! Can you imagine the people who saw me stumbling to my car? They must have clucked their tongues at me. I’m the tongue clucker when it comes to drunk girls!😉

  16. Oh – and YES I miss my 20s now and then, the ability to watch TWO movies in one night (remember video rentals? watching to flicks back to back and still not being tired?), work all day, dance all night, get up after four hours sleep and still function, and of course, my 20-something body – umpteen pounds ago!

  17. Funny how some of the friends you tried to recruit were literally on the injured reserve. Maybe a hint of foreshadowing.

    This would be like me calling up some guys to go play football, they all decline for one reason or another (including physical limitations), so I just go to a park, throw the ball to myself like I did when I was a kid, and play for both teams.

    Sounds pretty fun, actually.

    Great piece, Renee. (Miss Shuls-Jacobson if you’re nasty?)

    • That’s Mrs. Schuls-Jacobson. Now, bend over for your spanking.😉

      I remember my brother playing for both teams (not like THAT). He used to have that running commentary going.
      “It’s Franco Harris. He’s running up the middle of the field. He’s wide open…”
      “Oh wait here comes…” INSERT NAME HERE, all I can think of is Tiger Woods, and that’s basketball. (*wink*)

  18. The prolonged episode of vertigo is consistent with various neurological disorders of varying severity from trivial (stoned/pissed) to middling (inner ear infection/TIA) to damn serious (full blown stroke). In the future, take half an aspirin before you repeat the process, help the blood flow better.

    (COI I dance like a statue… dead and still)

  19. Great story. Congratulations on being one of those people who can dance without the aid of alcohol.

  20. Dude!! I get vertigo, too!!! Maybe just tone it down a bit and keep the movement on one plane instead of two next time!!

    Here is what I want to add….at this forty-something age…I wear my sneakers out when I go dancing (at Taylor’s). I do this because I am THERE to dance. And I don’t give a hoot what anyone thinks…I need to move and I need to survive to dance another night!

    But I sooo admire your courage to go dancing alone at a place you’ve never been before…you rock!

    Next time (with a little notice) I’d LOVE to go with!

    • Chica:

      I was not wearing high heels. Repeat, I was wearing boots. Frye’s. I was practically a cowgirl! I don’t think sneakers would have helped, but it would have been nice to have had someone to lean on. Next time, I’m fixin’ to shake it, (but not break it), you are on the “to be alerted” list. It’s a very short list. You are at the top.🙂

  21. OMG, I just sprayed my computer screen (unexpected laughter) with the contents of my oral cavity (Pepsi). You have guts girl. I turn 40 this year and can relate to channeling The Janet. Thanks for the laugh! Now to clean my screen…..

  22. I’m so glad I clicked on this! Bravo to you for being brave enough to go one your own! Yes, I very much miss being in my twenties, but I wouldn’t want to give up all of the wisdom that goes along with being in my forties! I’m very lucky to have 2 daughters (20 and 23) who usually want me to hang out with them, so, at times, it’s like being in my 20s. 🙂 Adorable post!

    • My husband will dance with me at special events – weddings, bar mitzvahs; otherwise, I’m on my own. None of my friends with go with me to Taylor’s: the very mention makes everyone shudder.

      I was driving by the other day and thought, maybe I should give it another whirl…

      … and then I kept driving.

      Maybe one day I’ll find a partner in crime because – as Whitney Houston once said so poignantly: “Oh, I Wanna Dance With Somebody”!

  23. You’re my hero! Most people I know won’t even go to the movies by themselves so dancing is completely out of the question. I’m pretty sure I couldn’t have done it but I would definitely have gone with you. I miss those days of clubs and dancing. Not for the guys, who were 99% skeevy, but for the hanging out with my friends and dancing. Thanks for reminding me of the fun!

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