My Life as a Disco Dancer

When you are young, you can do it all.  The world is yours for the asking, all you have to do is decide what part you want.  One day you decide you will take a jazz dance class.  You are married, with two small children, and you need an outlet.  You talk a friend into joining you, and off you go one Wednesday evening to begin your dancing.  Your husband has the kids, and this is your time.  Your hour and a half to reconnect with your inner dancer.

You have taken dance classes before.  The last one (first one as an adult) was belly dancing.  After a month or so of swirling and shaking your hips, clicking brass bells on your fingers and flinging a scarf around,  you became pregnant with your first daughter.  After a wheel fell off your car one evening as you traveled a curving mountain road on the way to class, you decided maybe you’d danced enough for now.  (And that your husband should perhaps not be permitted to do any more work on the car.) So you quit that class and became a mother of two.

But that was nearly three years ago, and you’re ready for something new and active.   You have read a flyer about a jazz dance class in the town that is about 38 miles away, and even though you really have no idea what jazz dance looks like, you sign up and go.  A young friend decides to come too.  She has lived in a hip city in the north, and is sure that she will like this expressive movement experience.

You show up the first night, and the teacher is excited by the great turnout (about 10 people), and she announces that she knows that the class is advertised as a jazz dance class, but she’s decided to teach disco dancing instead.  The year is 1978 and Saturday Night Fever has just come out, and disco is hot!  Everyone wants to learn it, she tells us.  Your friend and you look at each other and shrug.  You stay on and do the moves she offers.  It seems pretty fun, so you decide to come again the following week.

On the next Wednesday, your friend calls to tell you that she is not going to take a disco dancing class.  She wants jazz, not disco. She says it as though disco is something cheap and sleazy.  You think about it for a minute, and then tell her that you don’t even know what jazz dance looks like, and either way it is exercise in a dance way, so you are going to stick with it.  (You are obviously not anywhere as hip as she is.)

You keep going back week after week.  You learn the New York Hustle, the Grapevine and that one that John Travolta did in Saturday Night Fever, where he points up and down while gyrating his bum around.  You’re feeling pretty good about yourself, all things considered.  Truth be told, you feel a little sexy dancing in that snappy way.

One night the dance teacher announces that you all are doing so well, she wants to take you to the local discoteque to demonstrate your moves.  She is going to order t-shirts for you, and wants to know what size you’d like.  You think that is nice of her, if a little odd, and order an extra large.  Your figure seems to have shaped up since beginning this dancing, and you want your dancing shirt to be comfortable.

You show up the next week and receive your t-shirt.  It is red, with a low-cut neck and is a size Medium.  On the front, stretched tightly across your chest, it says your name, and on the back it says, “The Gloria Cravelle Dancers.”  In a moment of clarity you realize that you are being used to hawk her dance classes.  You will go to the disco and perform your moves, and people will flock to her classes so they too can become “Gloria Cravelle Dancers,” or at least be able to fit in at the bar.  This isn’t about you being a good dancer at all (even though you’re pretty sure you are).  It is about filling a dance studio with paying customers.  After one night demonstrating disco dancing wearing your tight busty shirt, you decide you’ve had enough.  It was fun while it lasted, but you’re done.  Besides, you’ve just discovered that once again you are pregnant.  Your career as a disco dancer is over.


One thought on “My Life as a Disco Dancer

  1. Bonnie says:

    Great story. I started remembering my disco days with my buddy Wayne and a great long skirt he helped me pick out. We debuted at a 9th grade dance. That was more than enough for me!
    Your story took risk to heights beyond me,

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