~ Good Clean Sweat: Moments in Dance ~
by Tam Francis
I felt the beads of sweat gather, fill, and slide down the small gully between my breasts only to be absorbed by the crisp white cotton of my floral halter top. At this point in the night, the baby powder that I’d dusted on my thighs, had evaporated and was replaced by sweat. Once I moved past the icky feeling between breaking a sweat and embracing it, I felt good, really good, like I could dance to anything with anyone. My damp hair curled at the back of my neck corkscrewing the stray hairs into perfect spirals.
I found myself on the dance floor being lobbed out into my favorite move, the Swing-out. Dancing with Spencer–the tall, thin dancer with the wheaty goatee, strong masculine forearms, a swimmer’s taught lean torso–was guaranteed to give me a bit of an over-rotated whip and I loved it.
The Swish of Vintage
I caught a glimpse of flying green, my vintage kelly-green, ten-gored skirt in the mirror. I tried not to look at myself as much as my friend Brian did when he danced, but sometimes I was just that vain or that insecure. The sweat broke across my back again, but everyone was sweaty and glowing and beautiful, the dance floor a lovely kaleidoscope of smeared faces and colors. The swish of my skirt, the rayon gabardine, belled out and then wrapped around my thighs like an inverted morning glory. I relished the fabric’s weight as it wrapped itself around my legs at the peak of the swivel’s twist. Then, wham, just as fast, my skirt hung free, swishing side to side as I was maneuvered into classic Lindy positions.
Beat and Feet Meet
Another dance, this time with Gabe, the tender young buck with the face of an okie, bright eyes of optimistic glee, jived a different pulse dictated by the jangly 30’s style hot jazz that perfectly suited Charleston and the look of early lindy. My mind’s eye couldn’t help flashing the old After Seban clip, 1920’s dancers swinging out for the first time forever captured and pressed into metallic silver grains.
At first I watched, then felt Gabe’s lead as he deftly led me from side partner Charleston into 20’s Facing Charleston with a subtle, yet unmistakably clear, sly ease. His face, glowed with a softness and wisdom belied by his tender nineteen years, his features uniquely earnest with a countenance seen in faded black and whites.
He took me by surprise with a double step on my left foot making me look better than I was, hitting a repetition in the music echoing it beat for beat with our feet. His interpretation was so harmonious I was brought along on his perfect glide. I let my limbs go slightly soft and released my tension into the floor as Gabe led me into a bounce-hop that pushed my energy into my feet but never looked sloppy or floppy, just ice-skater smooth. I was lindy-crushed over and over and over until the song exhausted itself with a signature climatic end.
Shocked awake like a hypnotist snapping his fingers, I staggered into reality. Every part of my body was damp with a cool layer of good clean sweat, I embraced it and keep dancing.
Do you have any dance stories? Ever feel like you’re suspended in time when you dance? What’s one of your favorite dance memories?