Posted by: pendrops | January 16, 2008

no music for dancing


I have loved the movie, Strictly Ballroom, since my sophomore year of high school and tell you, without shame, that it is in my top five favorite movies of all time. What can I say: I have a weakness for quasi-mockumentary, B-movie-esque, Cinderella stories that involve dancing.

I had a VHS copy of this movie for years and watched it almost to the point of un-play-ability before losing it in our move this summer. So, when Christmas came ‘round and my father-in-law asked me for “the one gift I want more than anything this Christmas,” I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to practically beg for my lost favorite.

With the hubbub of holidays behind, I popped in my slick digitally remastered DVD and prepared to solitarily bask in its glitter and glow.

Then Jason walked in. And sat down. As if to watch the movie with me. Now, make no mistake, my family has ridiculed me for years for my affection for these Aussie dancers and their simple, quirky dance story. This is why I became terrified when Jason prepared to watch it with me.

“Babe, I don’t think this is a good idea. I just want to watch my silly little movie without hearing you sigh over how ridiculous and inane it is. Remember what happened when I watched my Felicity Season One DVD with you?” [Silence] “Yeah. That’s right. Now just leave quietly, let me watch my movie in peace, and nobody gets hurt.”

He didn’t budge, so I pushed play and hunkered down for the show. To my surprise, Jason actually ended up loving the movie, gushing over how unexpectedly enchanting it was, not to mention how much he loved the movie’s tag line: “a life lived in fear is a life half-lived.”

As the movie neared its sweet and foreseeable end, I was warmed by my long lost favorite as well as Jason’s mutual enjoyment of it. Then, the music stopped. If you’ve seen Strictly Ballroom, you know the scene. It’s the Pan Pacifics and, with full knowledge of their inability to win, Scott and Fran dance their “new” steps with passionate abandon. The Federation President can’t take it anymore as they move powerfully around the dance floor, so he pulls the plug to stop them from taking one more step.

Only they don’t stop. Because the rhythm is in their heart – not in their feet, not in the music, not in anything going on around them – because they’re not afraid anymore, they keep dancing. The only sound, their feet on the hard floor keeping time with the crowd cheering them on.

For several days afterward, I couldn’t help thinking about how I engage, how we all engage, in our own dance. So many times, the dance – the true, beautiful, glorious dance – is stolen away from us (we allow it to be stolen) because the music stops. Circumstances aren’t what we want, we get sick, we wrestle with brokenness, we rub up against the brokenness of others, we grieve injustice, we weep with friends, we get afraid…and we stop dancing. I suppose it’s just easy to forget that the rhythm is in our heart, not in our feet, not in the music, not in anything tangible.

Crazy, huh…some inconsequential, early-90s movie reminding me to dance even when the music stops, because it will stop. It’s inevitable. In fact, the music will be silent more often than not; it will only truly play on the other side of things. But even if there’s no music for dancing, even if no one else hears a beat, even if we’re a little afraid and don’t know the steps, let’s dance, ok? Because dancing is the best thing we’ve got going.


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