September

I’ve been wanting to dance lately, mostly in my room and whenever I bake late at night and have the kitchen and living room all to myself. Heaven for an introvert who hasn’t had a day alone at home in over a year. I play my “Happy Day Playlist” and somehow, my cakes turn out the best ever when I dance (and sing) while baking. No kidding.

But it’s not rocket science. Dancing is one of those things that makes me happy and instantly raises my vibration. And when good vibes + good juju abound, anything is possible. My instant happy dance song is “September” by Earth, Wind & Fire. Whenever it’s on, wherever I am, whatever I’m doing (even when I’m in the middle of a grocery run), I can’t help but bop my head, tap my feet, and sway my hips–trying to be a bit discreet at the same time, to contain the rhythm and joy bubbling from within, but it never lasts long. It is pure electric energy that needs to be expressed in movement.

September always unlocks happy memories. The best one in 1999, the last year of my golden ’90s childhood–hearing this song being played over and over again from a boombox in the school podium, juniors in their P.E. class dancing the swing. I was a freshman passing by, and to me, they looked like they were all having fun. I wanted to dance too, and not just any dance. I wanted to dance the swing to September. When I heard their music play, I would pull a friend aside and tell her, “Tara, sayaw tayo!” Kudos to her for indulging me even though we looked clumsy mimicking the steps. I was always the more enthusiastic one. I remember being so excited for the time to come when I can finally learn the swing. But third year came and we got folk dance instead. My group got Chinese fan dance. As with everything I did back then, I gave it my best–all-smiles in my red cheongsam top, waving my fan to a rhythm in foreign language. But the truth was, I was disappointed I didn’t get to dance what I wanted.

Then college came and on the very first term as a freshman, I got Social Dance for my P.E. class. We didn’t just learn how to dance the swing, we got the whole package–boogie, cha-cha, waltz. It was a wish fulfillment for this frustrated dancer. We didn’t dance to September, but we did to another Disco Fiasco song on my playlist–Alicia Bridges’ “I Love the Nightlife”. I was secretly happy I wasn’t partnered with any of the guys in class because my dance partner was just what I needed. She was sweet and patient and made me feel at ease. She never laughed or got annoyed at me when I made mistakes or couldn’t keep up. Her palms weren’t sweaty. And most important of all, we were almost the same height. We didn’t have to worry about adjusting to each other’s level. I felt safe to feel the rhythm and just dance with less self-consciousness and inhibitions. I wanted to get it all right even if I didn’t look like a natural dancer, so whenever everyone else was out of the dorm or cooped up in their own rooms, I would practice by the shower rooms where the mirrors were so I could see myself dancing. It was precious alone time savoring something that made me happy.

On practical exam day, we danced an entire medley of all the dances we learned including modern, and passed with flying colors. I was never so blissfully happy getting a 4.0 in a subject that wasn’t academic. And I learned not just 1 but 4 dances! That more than made up for my junior high school self’s yearning to dance the swing to September. To this day, I still remember the basic steps. And I still dance just like that classic Billy Idol song goes…

“When there’s nothing to lose and there’s nothing to prove,
well I’m dancing with myself”

What is your happy dance song? What makes your heart want to dance–what makes you happy regardless of what everyone else says or everything else going around you? I hope you can find the time to dance–to let your heart just dance and do things that make you happy, whatever they are. 💃

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4th post in the series: Music / Film + Writing Heals 💖

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