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In which I discover the joy of sober dancing...

My ex-boyfriend and I had a heart-to-heart before he took himself off to New York to start a new life. It was at one of his many going-away parties -- this time a dinner that had devolved into what looked like a Jungian group psychotherapy session.

Shoes had been kicked off, wine glasses had become ashtrays and the rational parts of our brains were having a weekend off.

We weren't so much engaging in lively dialogue but performing converging monologues.

At one point of the party, the ex guided me towards a quiet part of the room.

"Lovey," he began, staring me straight in the eyes and taking a moment to brace me for what was about to come, "you can't dance."

It was an arrow aimed directly at my heart.

To make matters worse, I had just changed into a leotard in order to perform my party dance: a contemporary dance version of Cry Little Sister.

His revelation was akin to telling someone that they need to lose weight while they are harpooning a forkful of Black Forest gateau.


The latter incident has also happened to me and I can safely say that the dancing intervention was 10 times more hurtful.

I went through the five stages of grief in about five minutes.

Denial: "Yes I can..."

Anger: "... you complete dickhead. Besides, your dance moves haven't evolved past the dance music scene of the early Nineties."

Bargaining: "Maybe because you're stuck in the Nineties, you can't appreciate somebody whose style has moved with the times?"

Depression: "Why didn't you tell me this before? Now I'm never going to dance again . . . guilty feet have got no rhythm."

And finally Acceptance: "You're trying to dull my spirit!"

And with that I turned on my two left feet and went off to showcase my moves in the ersatz dancefloor in the living room.

Here comes the hotstepper . . .

But his words stayed with me. Indeed, those words follow me on to every dancefloor I've been on since.

Dancing is a complete exposition of the soul. It gives everything away.

That's why it's my favourite art form. It is not about being a good dancer or a bad dancer. Like in life, it's about being good at letting go.

The most magnetic people in life are those who just don't care, and the same goes on the dancefloor.

So the ex didn't just expose my apparent rhythmic shortcomings, he exposed my very shortcomings as a human being.

The dancefloor is a microcosm of life and, more specifically, social structure.

We think everyone is looking at us as we strut our stuff -- even pretending to fix our hair when we miss a beat -- but the truth is that everyone else is too busy thinking that everyone is looking at them.

Kneel, dancefloor, kneel before the new queen of dance, we think as we step onto the floor.

Most people believe they are the centre of the dancefloor universe, which would suggest that 'good' dancers probably have a better understanding of non-duality.

Of course you need some signature moves.

Unfortunately, these moves date quite quickly.

Remember, that dance you see well-oiled uncles doing at weddings was the height of cool during their era.

Dance is constantly evolving, but we tend not to evolve with it.

We generally learn to dance in our teens and these moves become the backbone of our repertoire for the rest of our lives . . . no matter what the music.

My friend and I went to see electro outfit Le Galaxie play last month.

"I really need to work on my dance moves," she said, as we fist-pumped along with the masses.

We both need to work on our moves.

It occurred to me that we were still dancing the same way we did 10 years earlier, when we were 19. Dancing might also be the only hobby you don't get better at over time . . .


A lot of things have changed since the ex took off to New York. For one, I no longer drink.

A large part of the reason I drank was in order to get on the dancefloor in the first place. It's as though alcohol lubricates the joints. It certainly unlocks the inhibitions. I was a better dancer when I drank. Everyone is.

So sober dancing is like a re-introduction to yourself. Your limbs feel heavier; your joints feel clunkier and you generally feel like a big eejit as you try to get your groove on.

But needs must.

It was my brother's wedding over the weekend. The ex was back from the States for it and I was out for vindication. Let's just say that someone's been practising . . .

I was spinning and swinging, shimmying and sashaying. Occasionally I would slide by the ex with a look of casual indifference.

"You call this bad dancing," I thought as I slinked past.

I was about to go over and say, "Notice anything different about me?" but validation came from an unlikely source.

My parents' 60-odd-year-old friend beckoned me off the dancefloor.

"Kate," he began, "I have to say, you're really bringing it tonight. You're great, so you are."

And so I was.