Loose Moves – Submit Your Work
No Lights No Lycra invites writers, illustrators, poets and other creative thinkers to contribute their responses to a series on dance: why we need it, why we struggle with it, and why we can’t stop doing it!
Through the series we hope to revisit what is at the core of the No Lights No Lycra philosophy, and to find new ways of appreciating and understanding the power of movement, music and dance.
We launched this series with a short essay by Melissa Howard. Pregnant with her second, the Melbourne writer discovered that dance could alleviate her anxiety and connect her with her inner Pussycat Doll. You can add your submission via the form at the bottom of this page.
Loosen up my buttons, baby.
Spring, 2013. I am pregnant with our second. The hormones make
me feel sad and unhinged. My partner closes off tightly from me,
like a fist.
While there are joys—does anything possess more
anticipatory sweetness than a newborn-sized bonnet?—a taut
balloon of anxiety swells underneath my chest-bones.
I haven’t discovered the gym or meditation yet. This comes
later, during the divorce. (“It turns out that all those perky assholes
were right,” I text my best friend, “Exercise makes you feel great.”
“Ugh, what bourgeois habit is next?” she replies. “Yoga?
I’d kill for a drink, to get tipsy and dance this anxiety off. I’d kill
anything, that is, except my son’s developing brain.
The house is empty, except for Apple, my old mutt, tonguing
her paw in the corner. An idea appears, born of desperation: I
guess I could try just the dancing part—sans booze?
The winding intro of the song I choose—Buttons, by the
Pussycat Dolls—starts: a sensual wail like a charmer beguiling a
snake from a basket. I slowly roll my hips, then snigger self-
consciously. Jesus. I must look ridiculous.
I check again that the blinds are down—they are—and start to
move my prenatal heft. Awkwardly at first, my teeth gritted with
determination, and then, slowly, with bemused enthusiasm.
Loosen up my buttons, baby, the Pussycat Dolls sing.
I play it again. Man, I love this song! I’m getting puffed and
warm, and a thread of something vital is unfurling in me.
There’s something inherently sexual about dancing, isn’t
there? To pretend otherwise is to affect a pearl-clutching
chasteness. I’m not talking about the performative
element—although that has a power, also. I’m talking about that
primal part from where unselfconscious sexuality and dance
originate. That egoless place where—and when—our noisy, bossy,
self-critical heads shut the hell up, and we stop seeing ourselves
from the outside in—how do I look doing this?—and it becomes,
instead: how do I feel doing this?
It feels hilariously lewd to be gyrating with my bump (or, more
accurately: bumps. My pregnant boobs are like two obese pugs
scrapping for space on a sofa) and, as I move, the mischievous
raunch of the song—and, quite frankly, the lack of an
audience—makes me feel brave, silly and kinda sexy. I’m a sexy
mama, blares the song. Who knows just how to get what I wanna!
How does it feel if I do a star jump? What if I pretend that I am
in an 80’s aerobics class and do lunges? What about trying to
twerk, my huge belly pushing against the top of my thighs, or to
attempt a clumsy booty-drop?
I play it again, and again, dancing—and falling over—until I am
puffed-out, giggling, and the balloon of anxiety under my chest has
deflated, and I can breathe again.
When the doorbell chimes, suddenly, the spell is abruptly
broken. I stand up, fix my dress. But I’ve gotten a glimpse of my
inner sober Pussycat Doll. Lucky, too, because she comes in handy