Entertainment Television

Monday 25 June 2018

Music and dancing are therapy in themselves — that’s why I’ve taken to dancing on the living room couch while watching ‘Strictly’

That’s magic: Debbie McGee on Strictly. Photo: PA
That’s magic: Debbie McGee on Strictly. Photo: PA
Bairbre Power

Bairbre Power

My kids used to remonstrate with me about dancing in the car as I drove them places. "Mum, you are embarrassing us," they'd whine, voicing their opposition to my love of rock 'n' roll. You must understand, I was not so much dancing with my feet, but with my shoulders, the odd hand movement a la the three backing singers with their 'Doo wop a lop bop' and 'Sha na na na'. To this day, I do like tapping out a drum beat on the steering wheel. Well, it beats the frustration of getting stuck in 8am gridlock when you haven't had any coffee yet.

Cars in the morning are a funny place. Some men like to shave in their car, women have been known to put on their mascara at the traffic lights - as for me, I just like singing. I guess that comes from being a child of the 70s when music was our everything and we sidestepped the boredom of school and charted our homework weeks around music, like watching Top Of The Pops on a Thursday and listening to Radio Luxembourg under the duvet when we should have been studying for the Inter Cert.

I'd even dash home from school at lunchtime with pals so we could watch Top Of The Pops again. The moves from the show's resident dancers, Pan's People, were far too balletic and way too ethereal and complicated for the dance floor at Belvedere disco on Angelsea Road.

When it comes to dancing now, I'm more of a kitchen groover. If my cooking style is best described as 'mundane mammy dinners', my dancing is slightly better but, yes, it is trapped in a time warp. Give me a good glass of - well it can't be red wine any more, so it's a G&T - and I will happily cook up a storm while shimmying around the terracotta tiles and singing outrageously off key.

In the mornings, I'm usually awake before Shay Byrne's dulcet tones come on at 5.30am on RTÉ Radio 1 and I'm all ready for his rather excellent taste in music which includes respect for 70s greats as well as lots of musical theatre. I've been known to dance under the duvet if the beat is good and the dog doesn't mind moving off my ankles.

Call me mad but it beats greeting the day with a big, bellowing howl as I know some people do to rid their bodies of the angst they feel facing into another day. Music and dancing is a therapy in itself. It's free and I thoroughly recommend revisiting our musical past and rediscovering the greats.

Recently, at an early Christmas party, the music was so good, I threw caution to the wind and had a go at reprising two of my favourite dance moves. The first is a kind of jive that I learned during a long, lazy summer in Brittany where we listened to nothing but 50s music and smoked American cigarettes, for effect. My French jive involves grabbing your partner's arm from behind their back and manoeuvring them in a series of complicated moves that never fails to surprise all watching. Then all I need is to hear a Rory Gallagher riff and I'm back in my tartan shirt days at the National Stadium and rolling out my slide, which borrows heavily from Status Quo and involves an air guitar.

I like most dance styles, although I wasn't one for the line-dancing craze that swept Ireland for a while and was a musical version of going to the gym. And it's not because I didn't own cowboy boots...

I am, however, a huge fan of Strictly Come Dancing.Over the last few months I've taken to dancing on the living room couch while watching it every Saturday and Sunday night, and we still have two more weeks (hurrah!) of the show to go.

So, the big question is, will mid-lifer Debbie McGee, the oldest of all the contestants, wipe the eye of the finalists and raise the trophy as tipped? At 59, she really is quite exceptional and her agility is awesome. She trained as a ballet dancer and, 40 years later, she has retained far more than just a straight back. If she ever decides to front her own health care product for joint care and mobility, I will be first in line.

Sadly, the semi-gammy knee prevents me from travelling as far as I used to in my double denim days at Belvedere disco, but it was good in its day and generated lots of fun as we girls danced around our handbags and spotted the talent. Safe to say, if my offspring saw the state of my Status Quo slide, they'd definitely prefer my car dancing.

Irish Independent

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