The Rise of the Phenomenal Woman
I Remember Mama

I Never Danced

Young Mom High School Yvonne

"Just dance," she said. Her voice was full of laughter. Happy laughter. She wasn't judging. She was advising.

I watched her slip onto the dance floor and throw her long blonde hair back, and thrust her body into the movement, keeping time with the band, waving her arms about, full of true abandon.

"Never," I whispered to myself. 

I could never do that. I could never get out on a dance floor, in front of dozens of other people, and commence to gyrating. The laughter would change from happy-go-lucky sounds to ... judging. There would, I was sure, be finger pointing. There would be derision. I would be...well, a laughing stock. 

No doubt about it. 

I remember turning away. Slowing nudging my way between the tightly packed people swinging arms and shoulders in tune to the music, as their feet tapped on the cement floor. I remember shutting out the sound of the band - though I thought they were very good - and searching wildly for the door. I was blind in that dark cafe. I'd left my glasses home, of course; what self-respecting young woman wore her glasses out to party, back in those ancient days of 1970? It left me literally blind, given the clubs were already full of shadows and corners that surely hid serial killers. I don't suppose we (well, I) thought of the corners as hiding 'serial' killers then. I don't think it was a common term. But, I did think those corners hid ... scary things. Like young men who might ask me to dance.

Truth is, as I struggled to get through the crowd, I was gently grabbed. A young man smiled at me. "Dance?" he said.

I panicked. The sweat began to form under my arms, I couldn't look at this boy, I pulled my arm away and mumbled, "No, thank you," and I hurried away.

I could hear him call me a name... apparently, he was not happy with rejection. The name, it began with a C... stuck in my brain and circulated round and round, getting louder and louder, as I fought my way to freedom in the parking lot.

Night sky

Once there, I gasped. I took a deep breath. The night air was wonderfully cool on my hot face! The darkness was comforting. I looked up at the stars; we were far out from the city I lived in, and the night sky was aglow with millions of sparkling gems, welcoming wishes or dreams or thoughts of other worlds; I could easily imagine a world so many millions of miles away, in that night sky, where someone like me, perhaps, was looking up and wishing for escape! 

"Is she braver than I am?" I wondered. 

I pushed myself into the parking lot, found my car, and drove home. I couldn't even think of a good excuse to tell my friend, who had dragged me to the club, insisting I get out and have some fun. "She'll understand," I told myself, as I pulled to a stop at a light. 

She didn't understand. She raged at me. She shook her head and for a time, she avoided me. 

I never learned to dance. And so, I never danced. I was forever conspicuous and fearful. I lived a life as a quiet mouse, following others...hoping to enjoy their amazing personalities, in the shyness of my little bubble. When confronted, as I had been that night, by a friend who had only my best interests at heart, I sometimes tried to be what others wanted me to be... out going and extroverted, because that's how you met people and that was the goal, wasn't it? To meet people; people who might introduce you to ... MR. Right!

I'm older and wise now, as they say. I know I should have danced and thrown caution to the wind! I should have looked in the mirror and known I was attractive enough to be okay out there in the big world. Because, attractive mattered. Still does. And it's a sliding scale, folks. I'm sure lots of people didn't think I was attractive. But, no doubt, others did and I could have enjoyed myself without the worry of looking foolish or out of step or crazy. Certainly, in memory, I saw a lot of others who were all those things, and didn't care they were all those things!

People ask me now what I would tell someone just starting out as an entrepreneur. What wondrous advice would I share?

"I'd tell them to dance," I usually answer.

It took me decades to get to a place where I was comfortable with me! I still have my moments, but I know now that it's not just how you look that matters - it's your smile, your personality, your confidence. If you have all those things, you're good to go. Dance.

If you can do that, if you can dance, you are leaps and bounds ahead of your competition. Your competition is waiting for you to stumble, bump into possible clients and push them out of the way, as you head for the door - and safety.

Safety is not all it's cracked up to be. Safety can actually hold you back. Safety can actually keep you from being successful. Safety can stifle you.

Just dance. Gather your courage go on, do it. And tell us all about it over at The Lipsticking Society. Because, there's a story there, in your decision, in your choice, and I want to hear it. 

Just dance


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Linda Ugelow

Great article and so helpful to read about your process. I find these questions of safety and courage so intriguing. For me it shifted when I became more curious and connected with what my inner experience of physical sensation and emotional response to music was, than with my imagination of what might be going on in someone's mind (which was less interesting).

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