“I wanna dance like that when I get older.”
Leaning across the table at the faded jazz club, I whispered into my date’s ear. It was possibly the closest we’d been all night and realizing, I quickly pulled back. His smile caught my eye before my back hit the cold back of the metal seat and his hand caught my wrist and gave it a slight pull.
“Good. Me too.”
We were both watching a woman lighting up the dance floor to Lou Rawls “I’d Rather Drink Muddy Water.” With her sequin sweater and shiny ballroom shoes, she had more swag than I’d ever seen in any 80 something. It was as if her age was a non-factor to her. Like she could dance the Evelyns and Nenes of the world under the floor.
There were yells and screeches as she broke it down, putting one foot out and holding it there until she shimmied the rest of her limbs forward. The only indications of her age were her slumped shoulders that too seemed to point forward and move her routine along. Every so often she would look up at the crowd and raise her eyebrows with all the expression of a young Broadway star. It was as if she was saying, “Yeah I’m really still doing it and yeah, I see you watching this whole thing.”
Watching her that night, I wondered if she was a dancer when she was younger. She certainly had all the traits. Maybe in her twenties her limbs had been longer, her body more fluid, more resistant to side aches or back pains.
I watched as she sat down in her seat and hear her sigh as she said to the young man next to her,
“Hell, I should’ve been dancing like that when I had the body to do it. Ones like you wouldn’t have known what to do with a girl like me.”
If I hadn’t been worried about giving up the fact that I was eavesdropping, I would have joined in her laughter, but self-consciously, I just smiled. With her shiny top swirling all around the dance floor, she was displaying the confidence she had gained after years of letting it build. She was giving onlookers like me a reason to smile even a week later just remembering her moves. She was doing it and had no shame in it. Hell, she was just catching up for years.
Sitting there I thought about how often we cast our “dares” until the next phase of our lives. Maybe because we think those are the things too wild for us to do now. But if watching those shiny shoes dance across the blues bass line and slippery wooden floor, I was reminded there’s no time for our dares than right now.