you should be dancing, yeah!

“Work like you don’t need the money. Love like you’ve never been hurt. Dance like nobody’s watching.” ~ Satchel Paige

Okay, I’m all for enlightenment and the motivational quote that will spurn one into one of Oprah’s legendary A-HA Moments, but some of them (please see above, in my humble opinion) border on the clichéd so severely they’ve been banished to sarcastic mockery on such popular websites as someecards.com.

But there is something to be said about dancing and the positive effects it can have on you – and the people around you.

You see, I’ve been a dancing fool from as far back as I can remember. As a kid, my sister and I would put on “performances” in our living room… oh come on, I know we weren’t the only ones!

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Hey, I warned you!

And yet I quit the ballet lessons my cousin and I had so desperately requested after a few lessons because, as a spirited five-year-old, it was “too slow” and I wanted to do dance to the beat of my own drum.

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My cousin and I in the late 70s. The only time we’d be the same height!

In middle school, my favourite recreational activity were those dances where the girls and boys would stand awkwardly on either side of the gymnasium… that was everyone except me. As soon as I heard a song I could dance to, I hightailed it to the middle of the basketball-striped hardwoord floor to shake my milkshake… not for the boys in the yard, but for myself.

As I got older, and once I hit the legal age, I’d dance the night away with friends. While they inhaled Sex on the Beach cocktails or “picked up”, you could find me on the packed dance floor doing my thing to songs like “Return of the Mack” by Mark Morrison, “Mallorca” by Loft and, eventually, line dancing to songs like “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy” by Kenny Chesney at the country bar.

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The famous Nashville North… y’all just follow my lead, ya hear?

Dancing was the whole reason an Italian kid (well, me at least) loved weddings. Forget the food! I’d try to contain my excitement as course after course was presented, but the ants in my pants just had one thing on their minds.

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The Tarantella: My father and I kicking it old school at a cousin’s wedding in 1995.

And really, ladies, I have two words for you – Dirty Dancing. The charismatic way that Johnny Castle taught Baby to mambo, who didn’t daydream about that happening to them?

Even today, when a good song comes on in a restaurant where my family and I are are enjoying a meal, my sister and I (fun fact: we are both in our 30s) will dance at the table, while my father chastises us because it’s not polite.

So when my husband, who was feeling a little nostalgic for his DJ days while organizing his library of over 12,000 music files this morning, asked me to lambada, I responded with a disbelieving “oh, hun”. It was 9 a.m. and I just wanted to chill out for a bit… even though I had taken a day off to relax, I had a list of “to do’s” staring back at me from iPhone notes file.

But that’s just him… always ready for a little dance – whether it’s in the kitchen or in a parking lot somewhere. If the mood grabs him, he’ll always grab me.

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At his cousin’s wedding in 2007, all the signs were there!

So what did I do? When Suavemente by Elvis Crespo came on a few seconds later and he extended a romantic hand, I got my tracked pants butt of the couch and joined him for a little salsa in our family room. Leopard print slippers, and all. Now that’s a great way to start a weekend!

Speaking of the weekend, for the past three weeks at work we’ve attended a very important meeting set at 4 p.m. every Thursday. The agenda only takes a few minutes to review – we choose a song and congregate outside the boss’ office to laugh, dance and release some of that stressful energy that builds up during the workweek, a la CP24.

As time has passed, people have (I hope anyway) started looking forward to it, asking “Is it time yet?”, “What song is it this week?” and, of course, the threatening exclamation of “You better not be taping this!”

What started out as a small group has since grown, with co-workers coming around the corner to see what those “crazy special events and recognition girls” are up to this time. And yet, after baring witness to the music, enthusiasm and pure joy, they often ask to be added to the meeting request.

So whether someone asks you, you’re out with your girlfriends or even if no one is around and one of your favourite beat pumpers comes on the radio, our advice? Just dance.

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Laughter might be the best medicine, but dancing does the heart and soul good!

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