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a blog by Chris Barrow


At the wedding reception we attended last Saturday evening in Devon, I was possessed by the spirit of Michael Flatley and spent a good part of the evening bouncing around on the make-shift wooden floor of the marquee like an epileptic Irishman, to the sound of a fantastic folk/rock band.

It is good for the soul to dance until the sweat pours down your face and drenches your clothes, knowing that you are sobering up in the process and also using enough calories to justify (in your own mind at least) adding to the huge meal you enjoyed earlier, with the hog roast at midnight.

I’ve always loved dancing (no matter how badly) and a little known fact about CB is that I attended ballroom classes as a young teenager, making my way to Browns Dancing School above the Co-op on Stockport Road, Levenshulme, Manchester, every Saturday morning for a few years, achieving certification in quickstep, waltz, foxtrot and other basic routines.

Later, Browns became a skinhead disco and I shaved my head and donned the white t-shirts, half-masted jeans and Doc Martins to boot (you might say) (that was the later 60’s) but in my time I could pull some pretty good moves around the shiny floor, with a variety of female partners, none of whom I had the courage to ask on a date.

Perhaps, in another life, I would have graced the Tower Ballroom had my early interest become a passion and, I’m tempted to say, had I been encouraged by my parents – but that push wasn’t forthcoming and, although I excelled on the floorboards, the temptations of Bulmer’s Woodpecker Cider, Brew Ten, Players Number 6, Motown and the camaraderie of hard-nuts tempted me away to a life of mischief.

The spirit lay dormant, however, and was later re-vitalised by Sunday evening visits to The Ritz on Whitworth Street in Central Manchester (late 60’s) where I could execute quite a few decent routines to the sounds of Northern Soul.

As an aside – there I remember watching Brazil knock England out of the World Cup 1970 in one of the greatest football games ever played (ah – remember when we were world-class).

Along came marriages (2), children (5 – second wife), mortgages, school fees, career, business success, business failure, house moves, marathons, holidays and a million other events. 

“The dance” was buried miles below the sedimentary layers of modern life, slowly fossilising under the gravity of responsibility – occasional erupting volcanically at weddings, parties and special events – but, like any muscle not exercised, it atrophies and is only capable of the simplest of motions.

It’s called “dad-dancing”.

I’ve actually become quite proud of my version of the “embarrass your children” performance as it is steeped in the tradition of Wigan Pier and has never been influenced by a single Paloma Blanca or chicken of the funky persuasion.

Theres not a single bird-like flap in my repertoire – and, as age has descended upon me like a creeping flow of solidifying lava, my intricate steps may have slowed and the arms may not be gesticulating with quite the same fervour – but the intent is there. The body may not be as willing but my soul cries “freedom”.

Next time you see me at a dental dinner – come over and join me and allow your spirit to fly with mine.

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