Friday, October 2, 2009

Faster Than the Speeding Light She's Flying

The random shuffle on my mp3 player caused the world to stand still.

One moment I was in my house, the next I was on a wooden dance floor in a frenzied whirl of light and sound. Heaving, sweaty bodies weaving complex patterns that would take a millennia for scientists to equate how we could all exist in the same space, committing such random and violently graceful movements without a collision.

Swing dancing. Late 1990s.

I was a part of the movement in my town. I went out several nights a week and killed it on the dance floor. In an environment where women exceedingly outnumbered the men, you had to be good-looking and you had to be good.

I? Was both.

One week night, in a popular Buckhead bar, my favorite partner was there. Because he was single and good-looking, he was in high demand with the ladies. I was constantly at a distinct disadvantage because I wasn't looking to hook up for a romantic relationship, I just wanted to dance. This night was no different. He was turning heads and picking up left and right. I just wanted to dance until my feet bled.

On this particular night, the DJ switched it up from classic Swing to Madonna's Ray of Light. It's a song that I had always been drawn to, and when we grabbed hands and hit the floor it was insane.

To say we were in the zone doesn't even begin to cover it. He and I were an equal match: technically and physically. Feet stomped, heads ducked under and through arms. He raised my hands up over my head and spun me until I couldn't see. I was in orbit and he the gravitational force keeping me in check. It was frantic. Controlled chaos. On a crowded dance floor with strobe lights flashing and bodies writhing the music pumped, and we let it swallow us whole and spit us out on the other side.

After the world stood still in my living room the other night, I shot my old partner a message on Facebook. Just a quick note to say Hey! Ray of Light just came on my player, and I had a flashback. Those were the days! His response? He remembered.

I have danced on hundreds of nights to thousands of songs, but this one ranks up there as one of the best. Perhaps because it was such an unusual choice in song. Most classic songs used for swing are just a few minutes in length while Ray of Light is five minutes and three seconds of solid power. I suppose I thought that for the sheer volume of partners, dances, songs and clubs that night would have been a blur for him. But he remembered. That one moment, twelve years ago on a steamy night in Atlanta.

Does it mean anything? Not really. In the grand scheme of things it is probably insignificant. It is just a powerful notion to know that I can close my eyes and be there. That there is one moment in time so memorable, so powerful that all these years later two people can close their eyes and through a song transport themselves. A supernova of energy and movement, expanding and expending until the the song ends and the dancers collapse and there remains nothing but white hot energy and intense emotion.


Fishsticks and Fireflies said...

I SO understand. Billy Joel's Piano Man, 10 years ago, slow dancing in the kitchen. And he remembers. And it makes my heart smile.

A Free Man said...

I remember that little swing revival in the late 90's - that was good fun. I was in Athens at the time, but we came over to Hotlanta now and again for dancing. We may have been in the same place at the same time!

Ray of Light? Not so sure. I think I'll have a listen to it right now.

Noble Savage said...

Nothing profound to say, just loved this post. It's incredible the way a song can take you back and make you not only remember what you did but how you felt.

Rassles said...

I tried the swing thing. Late nineties. But alas, I have poor balance and very little athletic talent and even less confidence. This does not make for good dancing. My interest in it lasted about four hours, and then never again.

But that doesn't mean your post didn't make me wish I'd at least tried to get good, or something.

Patois said...

How eerie. I was in my car the other day, listening to a new station that places rock songs from (mostly) my teen years and early adult years. I was so transported back in time. I feel the need to write of it.

And here it is, all written out. Much better done, I might add.

Joe said...

Great writing, NATUI! As soon as I read "Atlanta" I was waiting for you to drop some bomb about AFM. HA!

Coal Miner's Granddaughter said...

That is an awesome song. My memories that song revives are so different, but no less powerful.

I wish I had seen you/known you that particular night. That would have been an awesome dance to witness!

Not Afraid to Use It said...

@Fishsticks: The power of music is amazing.

@AFM: Dude. Can you imagine if we'd run into each other all those years ago? It is entirely possible.

@Noble Savage: Thanks.

@Rassles: It's never too late to take a lesson!

@Patois: Don't see yourself short--your post would have been amazing because you wrote it.

@Joe: Maybe someday one of us will have an "A-ha moment" but for now I've got nothin'!

@CMGD: You would have been in shock over the number of bruises I had. Swing dancing is dangerous business. :)

expatswede said...

Love dancing. This post? All kinds of awesome.

Blues said...

I loved that little swing revival. I wished I could have been a part of it. Too bad I thought I needed to have a partner to be able to learn to dance. Eventually I learned Tango, but still have no partner.