I met Bridget in my local park in South London this week, here's her questionnaire.
1. Can you remember your first experience of dancing?
Country dancing and maypole dancing at primary school, aged around 7, is very vivid. I know I must have skipped around before that, as my parents used to play a lot of folky music and go to hippy festivals (Albion fairs), but I don't really remember dancing at home that early. The country dancing is vivid because of the expansiveness of it in space, the need to learn so many details, the need to interact with fellow children.
2. What’s the most interesting/significant thing that has happened to you while out dancing?
Dancing under the stars at a festival was revelatory because I wasn't dancing (embarrassedly and unsuccessfully) to attract anyone for a change, and realised it didn't have to be that way.
3. You. Dancing. The best of times…
Indoors, on my own or with family, expressively and without self-consciousness, with our disco ball on. I think 'wow, if other people could see me they'd say 'you're a really good dancer' ' Sometimes I leave the blinds up a bit and wonder if anyone can see in.
4. You. Dancing. The worst of times…
At a ceilidh a few years back. I thought all that country dancing at school would pay off. I was rubbish. I'm just not able to follow rules where the body is concerned. I can't count and know my left from right and keep moving and be graceful. I kept thinking 'If they could see me in my living room on my own, they'd think 'she can dance, actually.' '
5. Can you give a quick tour of the different dancing scenes/times/places you’ve frequented?
- Country dancing 7-11 at school (quite a lot, it was a tiny Norfolk school, and my mum taught there, and she is a music teacher & folky)
- Dancing to Abba with friends in our living rooms, aged 9-11
- Early experience of school discos in the giant hall at North Walsham Girl's High School. Mostly girls, sometimes all girls. 1977, Frigging in the Rigging, the headmistress is called and pulls the plug on the music system. Discovering new kinds of music around 1979-1980 was very formative. I liked all that bouncing around to punk and Madness.
- Then, late night discos in North Walsham, Cromer, Mundesley etc, every Friday night. 1980-1982. Discovery of boys and snogging. Dancing was all about getting that. It was really scary and where my dancing insecurities were born. Besides, I've always had trouble hearing at all against music, so would get really anxious as I couldn't dazzle with conversation. The more pernod and black I had, the more I could dance.
- Sixth form 1983-85 - was very arty & Gothy, quite a lot of time was spent at gigs, not always dancing. But when I did, lot's of moody arm-swinging Morrissey style.
- 1985-1992 - Long period here of studenty-grungy-ness, but with increasing sophistication. I went through an unfortunate phase of being involved with bikers & heavy metal - used to go to Hungry Years in Brighton for head-banging (picture right, from here). The horrified 'what-was-I-doing?' reaction from that was to get into retro basement Latin Jazz clubs, frequented by some really snazzy dancers in cocktail dresses. People didn't used to dress up so much like that then. I used to feel humbled & very unglamorous.
- 1992 - I started working such long hours and moved to London I stopped going out, dancing was occasional and home-based, or the odd single-song boogie.
- 2005 - Discovered that my daughter has a great talent & enthusiasm for dancing - we dance together. She wants to be Madonna. Feel happier about dancing when I go out now, especially if she's with me. We just went on holiday, where they had music shows most nights and we had a great time dancing to tacky music.
6. When and where did you last dance?
Last night, to some home made rhythms with my 7 year old. Trying to show her what syncopation meant.
7. You’re on your death bed. What piece of music would make your leap up for one final dance?
Probably something Latin by Tish Hinojosa or Joyce, but if I was living entirely in my childhood memories by then, then probably Dancing Queen.
Previous Questionnaires here. If you would like to complete on, please see box to right.