Dancing by my Numbers 1988
The Birth of Dance!
Part 2 of 2
Pre – 1988, l adored music – l couldn’t get enough of it – in 88 l was 25 years of age and that year from 87 was recovering from an accident, l had had. I was a different person that year and would remain a very dark kind of soul till my early thirties.
I had always listened to music as a kid, l mean l grew up with music in the household from my parents likes and whilst that was okay’ish it wasn’t always the beat l might have preferred to listen to personally. But by around the age of 15 l started to listen to more music, not commercial stuff mind – but my eclectism in music began as in the very wide range and diversification l can listen to today started back then.
I had always had a fascination with heavy beat music, and whilst l listened to the same stuff as my peers, l had more of a fondness for stuff they didn’t like, l was considered old fashioned at 15. I listened to the likes of classical music and jazz, but equally l had a real hardcore obsession with Arabic traditional music.
And would have cassettes pumping it out quite often late at night to the absolute horror of my parents who were constantly yelling at me to Shut that trash off, and if not that then l would be playing traditional Greek with Zorba the Greek being an all time favourite which resulted in me bumping around like a baby elephant! Which further resulted in threats of death from my Father!
My parents, my sister well my family, thought l was just seriously odd, and my sister especially thought l had a screw loose as she was acquainted to listening to the Top 40, something l wouldn’t do until l was 18 years of age! So sadly my family had to put up with a son listening to quite possibly the oddest variety of music that most kids of my age simply wouldn’t do! This further added strain to my parents relationship with me. So from 15 to 18 they simply disowned me and my abstract tastes in music.
It was a funny thing, my own relationship with music l just found it spoke to me and l could see patterns in the music when l listened to it, and most assuredly the louder the better! Of course when l started to listening to punk in the later 70’s well my father was convinced l was not just anti establishment but almost the antichrist himself! The amount of arguments we experienced as father and son during these times was enough to cause serious dysfunctionality issues!
I could do no right, my father’s choice was the likes of Frank Sinatra, John Denver, Matt Munro, Neil Diamond and Val Doonican and whilst l also enjoyed these singers, l had other preferences as well. I could never understand whilst l was able to accept his dominance for them being played continually and filling the house with their croonings l was simply not allowed to listen to mine at the same tempo!
As the years progressed, and l got older my tastes developed further into the likes of early 80’s music and l went through the phases associated with Adam and the Ants which was also seriously frowned upon, and my sexuality became a hotbed for disucssion at the dinner table and more so when l coloured my hair with low lights and highlights and sported an earing in my left ear. What my parents forgot or never thought about was that l was seriously struggling to fit into my peer crowd. Obviously NONE of us knew about Asperger’s then. What we did know was this, l considered my father odd, he considered me slow, gay and weird. My sister believed l was not of the same family and my mother wanted to kill us all and when not that, was always so terribly ill – many a time of her own making!
By the time the early 80’s arrived l was still listening to the odd stuff as my parents called it and my friends as well, but had caved in a little and started to acquire other tastes as well, from even kookier artists as my father saw fit to call them! But my the time l started attending college, my musical tastes took on a fuller swing and l found a whole host of goodies! My dancing episodes in the bedroom got even more noisey and the music louder upon louder!!
As far as l was concerned l was merely developing as l should, by 1983 and at 20 years of age my musical choices were no less commercial than many of my own friends!
I never attended any ‘disco’s’ till l was in my early 20’s and by 1987 l used to attend once a week Cinderella Rockefellas in Guildford and was listening to the likes of Whitney Houston, where l would dance with my honey. Back then l simply used to sway on the dance floor and move my legs in an appropriate fashion, and l had to keep my eyes open, and because of that the music never truly spoke to me as it would just a mere year later! I enjoyed dancing, l didn’t need a skinful to enjoy it either, l just loved music.
The 17th November 1987 was the moment that my life was to change forever … and it did. It closed doors, it burned trust, it destroyed love and in its place would deveop cynicism, and darkness. In consideration to the tragic outcome of that day, l walked free with only minor physical injuries in comparison to others, although it would take 25 years for the medical profession to diagnose PTSD.
It also meant that for a full year l refused to listen to music … any music. I was a manager of a retail store and was obligated to play music and used to cause no end of upsets by only playing classic instead of the usual more pop orientated tunes associated with retail outlets.
By the end of 1988, my friends so very keen to get me back out into the world decided to break me to a darker side of music and away from the commercial beats l was familiar with pre-1988 and so armed with my Walkman they supplied me with House Music’ tapes.
This style of music was exactly what l needed to awaken me again to music and as a genre it has stayed with me since the later 80’s – l still love house, l found and discovered trance, rave and acid and a host of other jungle and garage beats that not everyone followed.
The music spoke to me again – but this time it used a different language! It spoke to me in patterns and shapes, colours and numbers, scents, tastes and words – l don’t experience that language with commercial music. When the music is loud it overwhelms and stimulates me at the same time, it’s actually at other times quite frightening because l find l can do things that many other people struggle with. That genre is as addictive as a drug to me, and many a time people thought l was as high as a kite on something l had snorted and that wasn’t the case at all – l was high on the musical language of numbers!
I found that l could write without losing concentration sometimes the most intricate of things, the musical numbers language would also further down the line in so far as the mid 90’s help me design fashion shows and choreography sequences, organise dance movements and a host of other things! I didn’t need to rely on the drug scene in the later 80’s l could find solace in the loud beats of music!
But that wasn’t the biggest discovery! That was just the icing on a magnificent cake! No! The biggest discovery was that late 1988 and my friends took me to a acid/house all night rave in London and l gave birth to dance!
I was very conscious that when l walked l had a significant limp on my right side, the result of a crushed knee, however what that night did for me quite accidentally was when l walked through the dance floor that night, l was surrounded by dancers doing all sorts of strange dance movements, and some water on the floor caused me to slip slightly and as l rectified myself it looked like a dance movement and this girl started dancing with me … well sort of, her eyes weren’t open! She opened one and said ‘”Hey you wanna dance wiff me? You got some solid moves!!” Her exact words! I thought WHAT DA F? I slipped over something and suddenly l have some solid moves??
But that mere slip and sleight of leg proved very favourably to me. My own physiotherapist said l needed to find a form of exercise that helped to strengthen that knee! That exercise was dancing! Because of my right knee, and the injury l was able to produce a strange almost robotic movement with it, and so all the left one did was try to keep up, which resulted in both legs looking like they were dancing seperately to each other! I shit you not – this is straight up truth! BUT, that night l started dancing for the first time in a year, and not only did the dancing heal my knee, but the music spoke to me in the musical numbers language and l didn’t have to dance with my eyes open. I could just shut them and do my thing – all night long.
From 1988 – 1993 l was a popular raver, an all nighter. I would work all day, and dance all night. my knee recovered, l became a really great and confident dancer, and to boot the musical numbers language helped me concentrate and reduce my stress – so in many respects a win, win and win situation!
How about you?
What does music do to you – does it speak in the musical numbers language? Are you old skool trancer, raver, jungler, houser or hip hopper?