Dance Like No One is Watching

Source of image: Wikipedia

I can see it as though it were yesterday: my little sister, sullenly standing in the middle of the living room, dutifully practicing her tap-dance steps for an upcoming show: shuffle, shuffle, stomp; shuffle, shuffle, stomp. Her movements were embarrassed and stilted; the ‘stomp’ angry and emphatic. She was wearing a cute little dress and her childish little legs, bony at the knee and ankle, had been resentfully stuffed into pretty little white ankle socks and shiny black tap shoes.

You only had to glance at her face – a sullen black cloud – to see that she did not want to be there. She did not want to be practicing that ‘stupid’ dance.

While I never said a word about it, I was so jealous I could barely think straight.

I am sure that my mother meant well: it would never have occurred to her, back then, to force her shy, introverted eldest daughter into a dance class: I spent my time in my bedroom or at the library, buried in my books. I wandered about in a constant daydream, humming to myself, head in the clouds.

Dance classes were clearly meant for children like my fearless, outgoing sister, who always had more energy to burn than any mother could handle.

I think I must have been in my mid twenties when my mother ‘got’ that of her two daughters, the dancer was not her baby girl, but rather, her eldest daughter. We were at a cousin’s wedding and once the music started, I spent the rest of the evening on the dance floor. “I didn’t know you could dance!” she exclaimed, amazed, when I finally took a rare, out-of-breath break. I may be shy. I may be the quintessential introvert. I may go out of my way to disappear into every crowd. But when the music starts, I forget where I am. I forget who I am.

I really do dance like no one is watching.

I remember the day I discovered that my daughter – also a true introvert – loves to dance as much as her Mama. Then aged four, my shy little girl jumped up to wildly dance in the middle of the movie theatre aisle during the mambo scene in the movie Flubber. Her older brother and I grinned in amazement at one another as she pulled off moves that would have impressed Fred Astaire. My little girl, who has always hated being the centre of attention, was also dancing like no one was watching.

She couldn’t have stayed still if she had tried.

I was visiting my Mom recently and she and I went to watch a guest singer putting on a show in the big central living room of her seniors home. The music was pure, solid country – not our favourite genre – but hey, it was music and some of it could really get your toes tapping.

Mom is also one of those people who just can’t sit still when the music ‘gets’ to her.

“Want me to teach you to line dance?” my Mom asked eagerly when the singer launched into a particularly lively song. Well, I will admit that I hesitated. It wasn’t really the stuff I love to dance to. And there were an awful lot of quiet people with white hair, sitting in wheelchairs – none of them dancing.

Still, I do know the feeling of not being able to sit still when the music starts. Despite my uncharacteristic shyness, I gamely got up and joined my mother for a dance. I learned that I suck at line dancing. But oh, the grin on my Mom’s face was worth it.

She’s still talking about it, and she’s already looking forward to next time…

Patti Moore Wilson ©



Author: Patti Moore Wilson, wednesdayschild2

I write what I feel. And I rarely know exactly what I feel until I write. I have lived long enough to have known many joys and many sorrows. I have made many mistakes; I have forgiven myself for a few… I have learned that there are lessons in every step of this journey, if we only take the time to pay attention… I hope you will feel free to pick and choose the stories that resonate for you…

10 thoughts on “Dance Like No One is Watching”

    1. There appear to be a breed of us. I too have great trouble keeping still when a good rhythm is going on anywhere in my vicinity, and I’ve spoken with another woman who is the same way. We don’t even care if we’re dancing alone, right? And we never are for long, because the dance floor fills right up around us, right?

      Liked by 2 people

  1. I love this, Patti! Even those of us who are introverts have a side that’s screaming to cut loose sometimes. It doesn’t happen too often with me, but every once in a while it does. 😊 And I’m with you – it’s usually music that sets the bee bop off.

    Such a good lesson too, in not to assume that we know what our children may have an aptitude for, or what things they may desire. Just a wonderful post! Thank you!

    Liked by 2 people

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