You have been shopping with your mum to find THAT outfit..the one that screams I am unique, but not weird, I am up with fashion, but not quite rocking M.C.Hammer styles, I am confident but not cocky, and most of all this outfit will finally make the popular boy in school notice me, with gold light haloing my ginger head while he ponders our going steady status…first thing Monday morning (at morning tea).
It was indeed 1991, I had my new striped shorts with a shortish white cutoff T, my hair was half up half down (risky), and I was ready for that school hall full of boys, music and sport bottles of fizz, in crates no less* It is in this moment that I can feel myself back in the body of that awkward 11 year old, desperate to make her mark but too scared to ask any questions, step over any lines or ask out any boys, and move in a way that resembles dance. Lets just say that 90% of the disco turn out were doing the side to side shuffle, while the group of confident cocky popular boys, were rocking out the running man, and the running man, and the running man to the soundtrack of Vanilla Ice, as we the girls, watched on in fascination while looking disinterested at the same time…total skill* So a few shuffles into the night and with a nervous possum light gaze secured upon my face, I walk across the room to buy a cola, wondering if my butt wobbles too much, if my socks are too high, or if my every step is being analysed by the row of people I have to walk past, in order to get to the tuck shop. Here I hand over my 50cent sweat swimming coin, take my cola, then heaven forbid open and drink the bloody thing looking poised, cool and…shit I have no one standing beside me anymore* Cue floor open…jump…hide…tap my new shoes, home home home*
And while my discos should have ideally looked like this..
…they actually were more like this (ignoring that this pic is from the 50’s),
those giggling girls and macho boys all trying to find their way through hormones, growing boobs, sweat and hair in new places..how do we all manage this mind warping time of our lives.
What amazes me the most is the music I remember more vividly than anything from pivotal points throughout my life…Pour some sugar on me (age 9 @ primary school), Ice Ice baby accompanied by the running man (age 11), Know your enemy (age 14 first pair of Doc’s), Have you really ever loved a woman (age15..boyfriend 1), Funk soul brother (age 19…art school), MIA paper planes (age 30 recently divorced, in town, tequila shots). Our lives are soundtracks that are on shuffle, any of these potent tracks play, we are transported straight back to that memory of time, held in our consciousness with all the associated goods, like an automatic reflex* In this we can never escape memory, we can move past it but not away from it, there will always be a song, a boy, a girl, a place, a beach, a first kiss, that is at home in our being, and jumps out from time to time to give us a jolt. Some of these jolts are as uncomfortable as that disco hall and others feel like a warm shiver, tantalising and familiar.
When I was 15 I went to my first school ball with my first real boyfriend, I was so badass as he was 19, had a job and a car and was about to go flatting. I was a shy ginga afro geek, but rocking my black Doc Martens with my ball dress. Weirdly I have absolutely no memory of the event, like a sambuca infused night I went, I danced, I spoke, I went home….I woke up and thought what happened* I can only explain it as fear and excitement driving my memory to the nether regions of my mind, as I went into auto pilot and came out the other side! Ahh those were the days of such all consuming joy taking over the body along with hormonal sensations and first love* Love songs till midnight and sneaking packs of cigarettes to be popular, Pearl Jam concerts and Michael J Fox movies. I loved the freedom I felt (but didn’t really have), the risks I took, the boredom of long weekends and the chocolate raisins I ate and tea I drank when I got home from a late shift at St Lukes and hopped into bed to watch Felicity on a Friday night at 930 :)…the world was turning and I was spinning..still am, just in the body of a 36 year old with a few grey hairs making a regular guest appearance.
Anyway..having graduated from Discos to Balls to Concerts in the space of the 90’s was a mammoth effort and what I really didn’t get until I was 25, were all the potential opportunities missed through fear of blushing or asking the wrong question (equaling humiliation), that would actually kill me right there as I stood…no jokes. My body therefore got me through my teenage life at high school, my brain was in there somewhere too on auto pilot, as my shy demeanor made me easy target ‘A’ as the bullying and shame that came with high school worsened. I persevered..I wanted to be an artist so focused on my painting and listened to my art teachers, spent hours in the darkroom where I bought to life what I saw through my lens and was truly happy in those moments of me, (and by the by did NOT attend any more school related ‘dances’). At 17 I started my Arts Degree and the so called daily Disco in this world was something else all together..Mohawks, Studded collars, Nick Cave wannabes, Feral beings living on rice, Tech savvy jargon loving gurus, all coming together to drink, smoke and use language they didn’t understand in order to make a statement and be crowned the most ‘ARTY’. The disco here was one you weren’t invited too it just was..everyday, in a different looking hall with different looking people, sitting on grungy couches wearing painting dungarees* I was introduced to Bfm, The Chemical Brothers, Daft Punk, Che Fu, Leonard Cohen, Bob Marley and Patti Smith, and I was content in my studio absorbing sounds from afar, anonymous and happy while no one watched.
So here’s to all of us who have been there, conquered or survived, coming out the other side to do the same in adult life…now this is many ways is more daunting than that disco, we move out of home, pay bills, are accountable, try to make relationship work, and career and children. So lets remember that someone watching or not, just dance and this track may just be the potion you needed prescribing*