Day 17 of 80 — Dance

Around London in 80 days

In these uncertain times, I need a lifeline and a horizon so I have — somewhat arbitrarily I’ll admit — set a date. April 1st will be my horizon ; my lifeline will be the 80 days separating me from it.

And as I cannot go around the world right now, I give you A Mad Belgian’s “Around London in 80 Days” : eighty impressions of London, eighty stories, places, thoughts from my experience of this wonderfully mad and maddening city.

Day 17 : Dance

Tap dance, ballroom, pop, continental-style bal folk, ballet, swing, musicals, clubs… London is a dancing city.

And dancing, like playing music, can lift me up in a way that few other things can. Don’t get me wrong : I’m not a great dancer, far from it. That’s not the point ; just like you don’t need to be a great artist to enjoy doodling, nor a great musician to have fun on the piano, you can have two left feet and love dancing.

But just because you’re not naturally fantastically good at something doesn’t mean you should not try and improve. Which is why, in my early London days, I pushed the door to Pineapple Dance Studios.

A fairly intimidating place, I must say. One of the most famous dance studios in the world, it has up to 2500 visitors per day, and offers about 250 classes per week. I felt very small, little Belgian musician lost in a sea of tall, proficient British dancers. But the studio’s founder, Debbie Moore OBE, wanted the place to be welcoming, with something for everyone from absolute beginners to professionals. So I registered anyway.

First class. Everyone seems to know the moves. A bit shy, I stand at the back, and try to follow. It’s not easy but I like a challenge. I pick up about a third of the moves, not much more than that. It doesn’t matter ; it is so much fun I forget my self-consciousness. By the end of the class, I still feel slightly out of place but I can’t shake the smile off my face.

“Fail again, fail better”, a friend of mine always says. I’ll come back next week. And the next. And the next. I’ll get the hang of these bloody moves ! And in the meantime, I will have to content myself with going into my own dance when needed…

"If you've a melancholy case of the blues 
I've got a remedy for you 
If you've an ounce of rhythm down in your shoes 
Then I'll change your point of view 

If you've been singing a sad and blue song 
Go into your dance 
Until you learn how to sing a new song 
Go into your dance 
Don't be complaining, learn how to smile 
And if it's raining, dance in the rain a while 
Put off your sorrow until tomorrow 
Go into your dance" 

From Broadway musical "42nd Street"
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