Dance for Joy

It’s 3:30am. I’m sitting in bed, and while my ears are buzzing my mind is calm. I’ve just got in from a dance, and though it’s late I’m nowhere near ready to sleep. I feel compelled to write about tonight, just as I felt driven to dance by bashment tunes.

In just a few hours, a heady mix of non-stop dancing, wicked music and generous friendship has radically improved my sense of wellbeing

The last few weeks have been charged with emotion. I’ve watched Poppy pack up her stuff in preparation for leaving the castle, I’ve struggled to settle back into work after my operation, I’ve had some long distressing ‘ticcing fits’ and overall I’ve felt much more sensitive and prone to overreact than usual. Right now, for the first time in weeks, my mind feels still, and I’m sure it’s because tonight my body has been anything but.

Of course, my body’s always moving because my tics make physical stillness impossible. But the way I got to move tonight was radically different.

My tics are driven by a deeply uncomfortable sensation that surges constantly through my body. My muscles contract and contort violently, suddenly, and involuntarily. Deep bass and the energy of a room full of people letting go were driving my body this evening. Feeling compelled to move by something other than Tourettes is a massive relief.

Another feeling I’m enjoying right now is tiredness. Not ordinary fatigue but proper tiredness in my muscles. My deteriorating mobility’s made it much harder for me to exercise in the normal way. Although my tics can be exhausting, I rarely feel physically tired for any other reason. But tonight my limbs are heavy after a load of activity. And it feels lovely.

I haven’t been out dancing in a really satisfying way since Notting Hill Carnival last year. As I danced tonight, with my whole body moving in time with the music, I realised it’s been far too long.

Three key things made it brilliant. The first was the music, with The Heatwave playing big tunes back to back, creating an incredible atmosphere and energy in the club. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that one of the best dances I’ve had in recent years was during another Heatwave set at Secret Garden Party last summer.

The second was how welcome I was made to feel. The night was at Plan B in Brixton, the same venue that hosted our Touretteshero website launch party a couple of years ago. So I knew the main room was accessible and that they were familiar with me and Tourettes. Even so I dropped the bar manager an email earlier in the day so they knew I’d be coming. They couldn’t have been more welcoming or accommodating. The door staff were expecting me, they’d reserved a seating area for us and, unusually for a club, the accessible toilet was actually accessible and not full of stuff.

The final and most critical thing was being surrounded by friends. Poppy, Fran, Keir, Rosie, Fat Sister and King Russell all made excellent dance partners and provided me with incredible support.

It felt particularly important to be out raving with Poppy because in just a few hours she’ll be moving out of the castle and into her new place. While this is going to be great for many reasons, I’m going to miss her deeply. Spending our last evening as flatmates like this felt perfect!

It might sound like I’m being a bit over the top with my description of a simple night out, but I can’t overstate how happy and settled I feel as a result. The last few hours have hugely improved my wellbeing. Bashment might not work for everybody, but perhaps it’s time for a good dance to be available on prescription.

Right now though it’s time for me to stop writing and concentrate on staying still enough to sleep.

Thanks to everyone who made tonight great.

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