Roxanne Tellier: Dance Like No One is Watching

Roxanne DBAWISWhat a week! Even the most positive of thinkers would be forgiven for having felt a little depressed with all of the horrible tragedies of the United States and the rest of the planet. I feel pummeled by the tiny fists of a cold, hard, cruel world. I refuse to watch the unending tragedy played out over and over, on all channels, dissected for the public’s amusement, like slow moving cars past an accident. I won’t! So when that happens, there’s only one thing to do …

I gotta dance!

Dance, sing, laugh – anything to feel like there’s hope, there’s life, and there’s a future. When you dance, even by yourself, with a broom for a partner, you feel alive, freer, lighter.  You breathe deeper, you build strength, endurance and flexibility into your bones … you close your eyes, escape a society gone mad. Dancing builds strength by forcing the muscles to resist against a dancer’s own body weight. It’s like exercise, but without the mat or the weights! While you’re dancing, your problems float away, and you float with them.

My mother was a terrific dancer, but I wasn’t very good at formal styles. When I was younger, I was built like a stick insect, all arms and legs. New Wave music was terrific; my gangly, awkward movements fit right in. Like the Steve Martin character in The Jerk, I had no natural rhythm.  (The Jerk – Dancing)

During the disco era, everyone dressed up and danced. Everyone was a star! We wore spandex and glitter and feathers and shook our booty’s to a beat that just wouldn’t quit. The flashing lights and the mirrored walls, a mirror soul-trainball spinning overhead … we reveled in our own special beauty and sexual awareness.

Disco was on the radio, it was in the clubs, it was on TV’s Soul Train, where Don Cornelius hosted Chicago’s hottest teen dancers, and everyone competed to be the most exciting performer in the “Soul Train Line.”

The Jacksons – post Jackson Five, pre Michael’s breakout – ruled Disco. Almost every song was about dancing. Hit after hit – “Dancing Machine,” Enjoy Yourself,” Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground),” “Blame it on the Boogie,” – enticed even the cowardly into the spotlight. Black artists ruled the disco era.  And Donna Summer was Queen of them all. Whether you were straight or gay, the girl was Hot Stuff!

Groups like ABBA appealed to the whiter, more suburban types, with songs like “Dancing Queen,” But the era exploded with the success of “Saturday Night Fever,” the Bee Gee’s sweet songs, and John Travolta’s blinding white suit.  Big-band disco followed, giving work to Gloria Estevan and KC and the Sunshine Band. On Crescent Street in Montreal, you’d find me doing ‘The Bump” to this one.

Disco evolved into hip hop, with the Fly Girls showing us how to move on TV’s “In Living Color.” Club music, shaped by mainstream artists like Madonna, Mariah Carey, Cher and Whitney Houston , found their own niches in the dance music scene.  The Spice Girls slayed the world – briefly – with “WannaBe.”  But nothing could move your hips and feet like Martha Wash telling us, “Everybody Dance Now!” Gonna Make You Sweat – C&C Music Factory

You can dance, even if you are no Fred Astaire or Ginger Rogers. (Or Jennifer Lopez/Rosie Perez/Michael Jackson/Bobby Brown) You can learn any dance, if you put your mind to it, or you can just pose, like David Bowie in “Let’s Dance,” or Madonna showing us how to “Vogue.” Steve Martin’s “Jerk” character knew the value of being his dance partner’s foil:

Lordy, I’m tiring myself out now … and we haven’t even gotten to the variations, the Latin rhythms, the “forbidden dance” The Lambada. The Twist, The Birdie Dance, The Chicken Dance … heck … Gangnam Style!

Let’s get all grown up and look at these lovely ladies … Pussy Cat Dolls – Sway (dance with me)

Ah … after the crazy, manic, frenetic, energetic spasms of youth … at the end of the day … dance is still seduction.  Same as it ever was, when your parents watched the great musicals, like “West Side Story,”  “The King and I,”  “Cabaret,” or “Singing in the Rain.” Who’s not twirled an umbrella to this song in their mind?

When there is love, happiness and joy in your heart, even the rain is just the percussion you need to accompany the soundtrack of your mind.  What’s a soaker, when you have that special woman front and center in your thoughts?

And so it goes, my friends.  From the first time you wriggle out of a diaper to entertain mommy and daddy with your beautiful bottom, to the last time you smile at your loved one, and move smoothly and lovingly into his or her arms … love and dance, rhythm and the comforting touch of another human being … it’s all that really matters.

Shall we dance?

“Dance with me, I want to be your partner.
Can’t you see, the music is just starting
Night is calling and I am falling – Dance with me

Let it lift you off the ground, Starry eyes and love is all around us
I can take you if you want to go”

= RT =

Roxanne’s column appears here every Sunday 

Contact us at

DBAWIS_ButtonRoxanne Tellier has been a puppet, a pauper, a pirate, a poet, a pawn and a king – and that was just yesterday’s to do list. Tomorrow she starts on the letter Q.  

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