I spent a lamentable amount of time cramming facts about the French Revolution, facts that I’ve allowed to evaporate because they are useless to my life. One of its forerunners was a man named Voltaire and the relationship between him and my senior 4 self wasn’t great. First of all, I disliked his name. It was too close to the word volatile and it starts with the later v (which is sour). At the time, my sympathies must have lay with Marie Antoinette and her shoes.
I recently found a quote by him that would have delighted me no end if I had read it all those years ago. It goes “Let us read, and let us dance; these two amusements will never do any harm to the world.” All of the best people I knew then and all of the best people I know now do both of these things with a great passion. Had my teacher revealed to me that Voltaire was a supporter of dances and words, I might have been more serious about taking notes.
If she met me now, my sixteen year old self would be appalled by how little of my freedom and resources I commit to dancing. I used to be that girl who’d enter the dining hall (transformed into a dancehall for the kadanke), take position and booty pop, arm-fling and back-slide until the supervising teacher herded me, sometimes forcibly out of the room.
The clothes to be worn on that day would be purchased after long hours spent staring at whatever the girls in EATV’s videos were wearing. Because the videos were also a good place to learn new strokes, I’d wait for when both my parents were out of the house and dedicatedly imitate whatever was being done on the TV.
Nowadays, aside from chair dancing at work and maybe Zumba, I rarely boogie. I rarely boogie unless I am out with my friend Jason. Jason is a sweet, if sometimes melancholic sort of guy. He’s a poet, so that comes with the territory, I suppose. He knows how to spot a good party which I think is because he knows everybody in Kampala.
I have always preferred to dance alone or with similarly energetic girlfriends because when a guy suspects that you’re out-dancing him, he either becomes depressingly clumsy or tries to match you and ends up punching your eye out. It’s different with Jason. Our dancing chemistry is superb. When we get onto a dance floor, it trembles with expectation. Even before the dancing begins, people know to clear the area. A force is coming.
Things start relatively simply with a coordinated shuffle here, a rub-a-dub there and escalates into this drama laden affair where we switch our minds off and let our bodies decide what direction they want to move in. Legs turn to jelly, backs glide on floors, and Olympic-level gymnastic feats are performed. Usually, our moves are making their debut into the world when we perform them and it is with great joy that we unleash them. Dancing with this dude makes me feel like death is a myth. It is a high that stores itself in my cheeks and causes me to grin randomly for many weeks to come.
For true happiness in life, one needs good literature and a Jason to dance with.