I had a big crush on Elizabeth Shue when I was a kid. In 1987 Adventures in Babysitting came out and it started with Shue, playing Chris Parker, singing and dancing in her bedroom. That was enough for me. There is something about getting a glimpse of someone (even a character in a movie) having fun when nobody is supposed to be watching. There is a vulnerability and genuine joy about those moments. I don't think we let other people see us being silly enough.
Maybe that's what I've always wanted in good relationships, someone who will let me see them at their silliest and someone will allow me to be silly. By relationships I mean any relationships, family, friends, romantic; all of them are at their best when we can be ourselves and not have to guard ourselves or always put our best foot forward.
This past Wednesday evening at theDam | Meadowvale's weekly coffeehouse, my friend Evan came to DJ for us. It was techno night at The Dam and Evan spun dubstep and house for 2 hours.
A bunch of youth showed up, but much like any high school 'dance' at first people just mingled and hung around the edges of the room. There were toes tapping and heads nodding to the beat, but not much dancing... when it started though... it didn't stop. From the first signs of people getting up and moving to the beat, it was ON until the end of coffeehouse. There were people showcasing some pretty cool moves, like our DJ Evan, but much more of the movement was just kids having fun and being silly; I loved every second of it!!
Sometimes when I get to speak to a group of youth for multiple sessions I will start a talk with a song and tell the youth they can do whatever they want. "Take the opportunity to get up and move around, because I'll be talking for awhile after this," I say to encourage the youth to not just sit there. I'll play a song that always makes me want to move... a song like this;
It is always fascinating to me what happens. Some youth will dance, for sure, but the amount that don't dare always makes me a little sad.
I'm not sad because people NEED to dance. I'm sad because it is always clear that for so many, if not most, they don't dance because they are embarrassed and self-conscious; scared to move because of what people might think or say. Dancing becomes a good metaphor for the rest of our lives and choices. Too often we live out of the fear of the thoughts and opinions of others, so we don't move at all.
I love silly dance! I think, in many ways, all dance is pretty ridiculous; people flailing their bodies around to the beat. I think dancing does have a special ability to free us from the bondage of always being so in control and allowing us to be silly, even ridiculous, at least for a moment. What I felt at The Dam's coffeehouse on Wednesday was a real joy bubbling up among the kids. A space was created where there was no judgement, because people were showing each other their FUN side.
We can lose touch with our fun side; the side of us that let's anxiety and stress go and enjoys the moment. The side that can be silly, the side that let's others get a glimpse of the unguarded and unprotected me. That fun side that remembers, "YES, IT IS POSSIBLE TO HAVE FUN WITHOUT ALCOHOL OR DRUGS!"
Montreal artist Sam Roberts issues a warning in his song, "Them Kids"
The kids don't know
How to dance to rock and roll
They're always on the phone and
They always gotta have control
And now the kids don't know
How to dance to rock and roll
Don't get so caught up in being cool and maintaining your image that you have it all together that you forget how to DANCE! We all know how to dance, all it takes is letting go.
There is pain behind the eyes that stare at the dancers, wishing they could join them but too afraid to try. The irony is, that moment of release, of fun, might be exactly what you need to let some of that pain go. Sam Roberts begins his song with, "No one feels more alone than the children of a dying breed. You never feel at home when you're just another mouth to feed." He roots the fact that the kids can't dance to the loneliness and disconnection that we feel.
Whenever I see kids/youth let lose and dance, I honestly believe that it is a moment of healing that is occurring. I see people taking a step towards freedom from the oppression of control that we place on ourselves. I see walls fall down where people have tried to be so guarded and protected. I see weight fall off shoulders where there has been a fear of vulnerability. I see childhoods re-experienced or experienced for the first time when people allow themselves to be silly and ridiculous where maybe they were never allowed before.
Don't forget how to dance, how to have fun, how to show people your silly side. If you think you never knew how.... give it a try... like I said, all it takes is letting go.