Shall We Dance?

“If I Can’t Dance, I Don’t Want To Be Part of Your Revolution” Emma Goldman

EDE323FB-B5C5-4999-A8E1-DC16E19F7306Tomorrow I’m going on a course to become a ZUMBA INSTRUCTOR! I am beyond excited. Dancing is one of my favourite things to do in the world. Dancing makes me feel FREE and ALIVE. The feeling I get – from going out dancing and experiencing connection with others, dancing in my room when getting ready, or taking part in dance classes – can genuinely empower and energise me for days and days.

E7BE0BE8-182C-4C15-BF0B-7AAD7158F9BFHere’s a photo of me rocking out wearing an eye mask, losing myself in music aged 6!

There’s something about losing yourself in the moment, because of the way that the music makes you feel – in your mind, body and soul – where you forget about everything else, but you become more aware of your self. Studies show that dancing can help people increase their self esteem to get better at public speaking! Dancing can help people feel more comfortable in themselves.

7A6847E3-953A-43C4-BEB7-CF298CFC8634Posing on the floor at a @justdivad vogue workshop at Airborne Studios Manchester.

Movement in the body can ‘create the space in our minds necessary to bring us back in touch with the natural intelligence of our bodies, and ultimately with each other and the planet.’ Natasha Blank of ‘Get Your Dance On’ also based in NYC.

‘There was a time when mankind was primitive, a time when the sun was an object of worship and human beings were in sync with the earth. In these ancient days, the indigenous people didn’t only use language or drawings to express themselves – they used dance. The old, shamanic ritual of uninhibited movement as a means to heal and energize’ and nowadays, many people and collectives try to recreate this magical skill. Experiencing something like this place in Texas is on my bucket list!

But you’ve gotta laugh. This scene from British sitcom ‘Peepshow’ has had me crying with laughter TOO MANY TIMES!

I’ve always loved dancing, with all my heart. I am by no means a professional dancer, but the enjoyment of dancing and watching others dancing has always been there. My mum and my nanna have always taken us to see live stage shows and seriously, the all singing all dancing musicals have always made me feel high-on-life. Favourite musical? That’s a whole other conversation!

7820E35B-9812-418B-9D44-BC16CC43779BHOW AMAZING IS THIS?! Combining some of my favourite things: Rhythm, movement, singing, nature, women’s collectivity and community. Footage of women using their hands to splash the sea Vanuatu Islands. Stunning.

There is something so special about watching people express themselves dancing. Ever seen the most heartwrenching scene in The Green Mile? Where the innocent protagonist requests to ‘See the moving picture’ before he is sent to the electric chair on death row. He sees footage of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rodgers dancing ‘Cheek To Cheek’ and compares them to angels.

A7A32390-FB14-462D-A2C8-52F46BDF2840Dancing is the ultimate feel-good form of exercise. So many health benefits. Did you know that dancing can relieve anxiety and even boost brain power?

C7074DBD-0A76-4927-A60C-26E07F350C9EPhoto by Christopher Dresden Styles, Bollox at Legends (2012)

Below are some of my favourite music videos, YouTube videos and scenes in movies, where dancing has either inspired me, moved me to tears or made me smile from ear to ear.

The best film I’ve seen recently without a doubt is 120 BPM. It is a beautifully powerful French film about ‘Act Up’ the gay rights campaign group during the AIDS crisis in the 1980s. The dance scenes throughout the film represent rebellion and community. This scene really stayed with me.

Fatboy Slim – Praise You is one of my favourite music videos ever. A work of genius. Comedy gold.

I will always remember how the music video for Jason Nevins remix of RUN DMC’s ‘It’s Like That’ made me feel when I was 10 years old. It was released in 1997, and it exploded. Everywhere. That thumping beat is infectious, and the music video is too. Featuring all different kinds of people having a breakdancing dance off. This was the first time I saw women breakdancing and it did something to me. We heard this track at every school disco at Middle School (on Friday lunchtimes! – I went to every single one!) and friends birthday parties. I’m now 30 years old and I still think the original, the remix and the video are so cool.  ((SPINBACK)) – “CHECK THIS OUT!”

How much excellence can you see in one performance? See Jabbawockeez at the NBA Finals last year, above, to find out more.

PULP FICTION: UMA THURMAN & JOHN TRAVOLTA IN JACKRABBIT SLIM’S TWIST CONTEST!!!  They don’t even dance for that long on screen, but the dancing comes across as so flippin’ effortlessly ICONIC. Intoxicating to behold.

Shoutout to the northern powerhouse, spellbinding dancer and choreographer that is Joshua Hubbard of The House Of Decay. Follow him on instagram. His performance in the video for the Young Fathers track SHAME needs no introduction. Just watch.

Great memories and lots of lessons learned in various vogueing workshops with Joshua! Below is a photo of some of us, post-workshop at Hype Dance Studio, Sheffield.

6ECE7648-64F3-4766-A9E7-F944ACB813F9

The above disco scene in The Get Down. Thrilling.

Check out this DISCO CLASSIC: Musique – Keep On Jumpin’

Word. I could talk for DISCO for days, but for now… Here’s Grace! At Studio 54.

792A0375-EE37-4E39-B140-FD12E0127414Someone once said about the feeling of experiencing the closest thing to what heaven might feel like on the dance floor at Studio 54. LOVE IT! In the future, if they design some sort of App where you can actually time travel, the 70s disco scene in New York City will be one of the first places I go.

Of course I need to talk about my love of vogueing and ballroom culture. I am so grateful to know about vogueing. We must always acknowledge and celebrate the Black and Latino gay community who started this incredible form of expression around the 1970s in NYC. Paris Is Burning is an exceptional documentary. And now, following the legacy of Willi Ninja, Paris is OFF THE SCALE. Vogueing has gone completely global. It’s without a doubt my favourite form of dancing.

Vogueing combines elements of elegant poses like those in Vogue magazine; styles like old way, new way and vogue-femme, with a whole load of amazing categories for vogue ball participants to channel and OWN IT. Watching other people vogueing, especially people from the LGBT+ community, expressing themselves and LIVING really does inspire me.

Shoutout to OH-SO-FIERCE Darren Pritchard, the Mother of The House of Ghetto who’s has taught me and my friends so much about vogueing and working the floor in his high energy vogue-femme workshops. All the best to everyone involved in tonight’s SOLD OUT Deep In Vogue documentary’s fundraiser at TriBeCa in Manchester!

There is so much to touch upon, Manchester has such a wealth of historical importance when it comes to music, dancing and the power of collective consciousness. Check out the MDMArchive for ongoing (highly dedicated) documentation.

DFC4B99C-085B-4242-A22B-9CDD1B18DD55One of the MDMArchive Co-founders is the ever-so-passionate-about-music-and-culture Abs Ward. Listen to her awesome show on NTS Radio. Keep up the good work Abs!

Back to dancing.

This scene in Billy Elliott makes my heart beam with joy.

This scene is also intensely powerful. The whole soundtrack is brilliant.

I watched Mary Poppins on repeat when I was little. I was always absolutely mesmerised watching this particular scene with the happy chimney sweeps. Then I became an adult and studied sociology, and I enjoy challenging inequality and exploring representation of different social groups. Great film though!

Watch these awe-inspiring Lindy Hoppers HAVING IT! Pure energy. Pure skills.

‘Shall We Dance’ from The King and I has moved me to tears many a time. I feel that the film is problematic and dated, but I used to watch it loads as a kid. I’m sure my mum bought it on VHS for my sister and I, with some colouring books, for us to chill out one Easter Holiday. I remember thinking that the king is a horrible person, but this particular scene and other scenes with music and dancing really fascinated me as a child and still do. This scene makes my eyes fill up – it’s when they realise they’ve got feelings for each other! And it’s is just so extravagant and old school!

Sometimes it’s the simple things: The Snowman animation, specifically this jubilant dance scene with the uplifting violin folk music moved me as a kid. Still does. What a heart breaking film though!

When it comes to talking about the power of dance, there is so much more to say, and I will be blogging about dance and movement again, watch this space.

23BCC832-7F8B-4A89-812B-89B2CB07FD42The next *HIGHLY* recommended night out in Manchester for dancing ALL NIGHT LONG in a safe space with nothing but love and hugs (and kisses) on the dance floor? Come to Kiss Me Again Saturday 5th May at Soup Kitchen with guest DJ sets from *the legendary* Kath McDermott and Philippa Jarman!

Tickets here. See you on the dance floor!

0C9E68A3-4CFF-40A8-9B35-3769944B71BDIn the words of Belinda Carlisle:

“In this world we’re just beginning, to understand the miricle of living…

… They say in heaven, love comes first. Ooh Heaven is a place on Earth!”

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