Lauren Rae Brown writes about her SOL experience ~
Dancing Away a Painful Memory
– One Session at a Time
I’ve had the glorious pleasure of experiencing SOL Dance almost since its inception this spring at Embody Practice Center. And I’m hooked!
The first night, at around the third track, an overwhelming sense of freedom and joy overcame me and I started to weep – still killin’ it, mind you. I’d never remembered feeling this okay to move and dance before in my life! Birmingham is not a small town, but when one goes out to live music venues, there are a fair amount of dance spectators and a person could feel a bit self-conscious. Unless I am in the middle of a crowd of crazy dancers, I’ve always felt uncomfortable dancing in public. I have this fear that I’m being judged, mocked or made fun of. Sometimes my company or a little alcohol can eclipse those nagging fears and I’ll let loose, and sometimes not. After several weeks of attending SOL Dance sessions and regularly experiencing emotional releases, a poignant memory surfaced.
My older brother – to this day – loves to tell this story about one time when we were kids. He’s two years older than me and when I was around 11 or 12, in our small Texas town where I grew up there was a gym facility that hosted a Friday night lock-in party for tweens and younger teens. It lasted for about three or four hours and there were concession candy and nachos, soda, games, a dj and dance floor, chaperones and plenty of opportunities to loiter around with your friends.
So, I found myself on the dance floor, and I was working it with my Running Man. I remember feeling so in touch with the music and this particular dance and that’s all I did – for about thirty minutes straight. I remember at some point, taking a corner of my polka dot vest and using it to dab the sweat running down my face. Somewhere in all the rush, everyone had moved off the dance floor and it was just me and the dj, who was encouraging, thankful, I thought, as I was the only one dancing to his tunes. I felt so good afterward.
The next day, my brother is recounting the lock-in to my mom and some of his buddies and he begins laughing hysterically. “You should have seen her…there was NO ONE on the dance floor and the dj says ‘Look at her go!’ Ha-ha-ha-ha”. He then impersonates my sweet dance moves, except they seem more desperate, comical, tired and pathetic than I remember them being – laughing the whole time.
It dawned on my young self that this is something to be extremely embarrassed about. He spoke as though the whole crowd of the lock-in was observing, hiding a smirk from the poor awkward girl out there doing the Running Man, or worse, openly laughing but gone unnoticed by the focused ridiculous dancing girl. I was mortified, after-the-fact.
It’s no wonder to me now, after this remembering, that I’ve been hyper-aware of people’s reaction to my dancing in public ever since. “Are they laughing at me? Am I being judged? Does she think I’m too slutty? I wonder if he thinks I’m awkward”.
In each SOL session, in the safety of the deep dark, where my harshest critic is silenced because she can’t even see a hand in front of my face, the possibility of ANY critical eye has been removed. Dancing for the sheer joy of it, I feel I’m turning the lights out on that pain-filled memory, one SOL session at a time. I’m less embarrassed by that story now, and if he ever tells that story in my presence again, I’m going to stand up for my right to express myself and feel proud that I danced like no one was watching.
– Lauren Rae Brown is a licensed massage therapist and registered yoga instructor at Embody Practice Center.