Dance Party!!!

“Dance like nobody’s watching; love like you’ve never been hurt. Sing like nobody’s listening; live like it’s heaven on earth.” - Mark Twain

Being in the deep freeze here in the Midwest for the past week or so has been difficult for all of us. One of the things I strive to do every day is spend at least 30 minutes in some sort of reasonably strenuous physical activity. Often that’s riding my bicycle. Sometimes it’s taking a long walk. Over the years, though, I’ve found that I have less and less tolerance for temperatures below 20 degrees Fahrenheit. As such, I just have not been getting out and moving around the way I should, and I’m beginning to feel it.

It’s times like this that I actually start to pay attention to the advice I give my patients. With the sedentary kids who come into my office tell me how much time they spend in front of screens and that they may not have PE in school, I will ask them, “Do you like to dance?” Pretty much every kid says, “Yes!” So I suggest that they have a 30-minute dance party every day. Go down to the basement or to the living room or somewhere where you can play music really loud, and just dance like crazy for a half hour.

I used to dance a lot. As a gay man of a certain age, it has always been a crucial part of my culture. Seriously. Certainly, on Friday and Saturday nights it was not uncommon to find me on a dance floor in Omaha, New York, Myrtle Beach, Saint Louis, or some city where I might have traveled for a conference or a vacation. Sadly for me, I haven’t done that nearly as much lately. And as I’ve gotten older — and yes, as I’ve put on a few pounds — I think my internal monologue has cautioned me that, “You’re too old for that…” and I’ve tended to buy into it.

Well, feeling sludgy as I have, not just due to the bone chilling weather but also because of that seemingly endless, pesky pandemic, I figured I’d give it a try.

Today the playlist was Donna Summer’s “MacArthur Park Suite” (17:53), Dan Hartman and Loleatta Holloway’s “Vertigo/Relight My Fire” (9:35), and The Brothers Johnson’s “Stomp” (6:21). Between the three of them, that’s about 34 minutes of hardcore disco.

Of course, these songs come from a period of my life — the 1970s and 1980s — when I spent the greatest number of hours per week on dance floors. I have a lot of muscle memory about the moves I did 40 years ago at The Hollywood Disco in Omaha, The Saint in New York, and The Offshore Drilling Company in Myrtle Beach, SC (yes, that was its name), as well as warm and deeply emotional memories of the friends and lovers I danced with in those days.

And I gotta tell you, I think I’ve still got a few moves. For a guy in his late 60s, I can swivel my hips and flex my spine in ways that would make any chiropractor proud.

The point is, whether you move to these songs or to songs for which you have your own muscle memories and sentimental attachments, just fire up the Victrola or the Alexa, and move that body! If the people (and dog) I live with can get used to it, so can anyone in your household!

And now I invite you to watch 16 seconds of me in action!

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Ken Haller

Pediatrician, Educator, Singer, Writer, Advocate, Actor, Improviser. Views are my own, not those of any institution where I’m employed.