Stuart’s article about the music that made him inspired someone else to write about something important to them. Here, Ian Birse talks about a turning point in his young life:
The Legacy of Dancing Guy
First an introduction! I am a mid 30something. Married, family and a dog! Absolutely nothing outstanding or unique about me. Funnily enough I wasn’t always like this though. Shockingly enough I went through a period of my life known as “My Youth”, although it was a long time ago now.
Back then I was a typical young man! Young, dumb and full of……..vim……….Unfortunately I was also short, academic rather than athletic and just discovering the joys of geekdom. None of these are bad things at all (although I still struggle to reach the top shelf (these days it’s more for the cereal than the magazines!)) but it did mean that most of my formative years were spent in “self discovery”, of one kind or another.
During those years the tradition was that every Thursday night everyone congregated at a certain establishment that was known for not being overly picky about who had ID, get drunk and compare hangovers at school the next day! Since I lived with my parents out of town I always drove and stuck to the hardcore cans of Diet Coke and watch my peers get more and more intoxicated and once the nights wore on and the dancing started I would watch and stand on the sidelines, always on the periphery. For months I told myself this was fun and that I was enjoying myself.
It was on one such night that I had a tremendous revelation! It was early in the evening. The dance floor was still empty. I was drinking down my Diet Coke, alone in my corner. A song came on that I really liked. I wanted to dance but no one else was, and after all, I was having fun in my little corner of the nightclub.
But I wasn’t. I was bored! I wanted to have a dance! And something clicked……….why did I do this every week? Was I having fun?
No, no I wasn’t.
So what was I going to do about it?
I was going to dance!!!!
So I did!
For the life of me I can’t remember what the song was that finally pushed me over the edge but as the DJ always played good music it was probably either an Indie anthem or a classic rock epic. But the outcome was the same……..Dancing Guy was born!
I loved it! I am not graceful, I am not beautiful but my god was I energetic! What I lacked in skill I more than made up for with enthusiasm! I never left that dance floor again. Every week I would arrive at doors opening time, usually the only person in the place, and the DJ would play my tunes and I would dance. I had the dance floor to myself and I made the most of it, I covered every square inch of floor on every single song. From rock, to dance, to rap, to indie and everything in between I was there.
Within a few weeks I started getting an audience. People were actually coming to the club earlier because they knew I’d be there! It got to the stage that the owner realised what was going on and started letting me in for free, apparently I was good for business.
It wasn’t all good though. Some people did take exception to my method of expression and would occasionally try to bully me, physically and verbally, off the dance floor. But I thought to myself, NO, I haven’t finally found myself to be shut back in my corner by some narrow minded and ignorant young boys! So I would make a point of dancing up to them and exposing them for the cowards that they were! And it always worked.
Once I’d found myself no one was going to shut me back up again!
But on the whole people’s reactions were resoundingly positive. Folk even started joining me, not in a mocking or derogatory way but because it was genuinely fun! Other people started expressing themselves too. Who would’ve thought a nightclub could be so much fun! I used my new found fame and influence to conduct my own little social experiment. It was during this time that a particularly catchy tune by Outkast was released and was played, on repeat, EVERYWHERE. I took this tune and put some moves to it, just 4 or so simple moves repeated throughout the song. Everytime the song came on I would start my short routine and see what happened…….sure enough within a few weeks I had everyone in the place doing my dance and joining in! It felt pretty good to have that level of influence………you could say I was a Social Influencer before it was cool!
And I was happy. Not because I was suddenly popular or “famous” but because I had found a way to express myself in a way I had never had before. I didn’t have to hide in the corner with my Diet Coke. I could walk into that club and know that people were happy to see me and I could have fun.
So what happened to Dancing Guy?
Well of course time moved on. The nightclub is now a block of flats (what hasn’t been turned into flats/housing now!?) and I am no longer the carefree young dancer I was, I have a family, a job and all sorts of other grown up things. Dancing Guy has retired. But every so often he comes back out of retirement and expresses himself anew, albeit a bit slower and only for a song or two! And occasionally I even still get recognised and it is good to know that for a short time I had an impact on people in a very small way.
What has been the point of all this sentimentality?
Dancing Guy was a very important part of my growing up. He taught me to express myself. That there will always be those who will try to knock you down but as long as you are confident and believe in what you are doing nothing can stop you! But most importantly, if you’re not happy, find out what will change that, because in the end nothing else matters.