Everybody, get on the floor; let's dance!
Don't fight the feeling; give yourself a chance.
- K.C. and the Sunshine Band, "Shake Your Booty"
My booty's still shaking from the sheer joy of a dance-filled weekend. It began, appropriately, with the Ozomatli concert at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center on Friday night. The band took its name from the Aztec astrological symbol of the monkey, also considered a god of dance and music, among other things. I had the great pleasure of introducing a friend to Ozo's high-energy world vibe and, of course, they didn't disappoint. They rocked the house so hard, I was sure the beautiful glass ceiling over Yokouchi Pavilion would shatter, just from the jubilation of the crowd. We spent the entire concert on our feet and were soaking wet with sweat by the time we got to Maui Beach for Old School Night. It was a Friday night doubleheader, four-and-a half hours of nonstop aerobics.
The next night, Rosalind Modica threw a 70th birthday party for Jimi Hendrix as a benefit for Mana'o Radio, so I got to rock out '60s style on the great dance floor at Three's in Kihei. Of course, my Saturday nights aren't complete without the funk of the Eight-Track Players at Kahale's, so I boogied back and forth through the notorious Triangle, getting in a good amount of floor time at each club.
Sunday afternoon, Mana'o Radio's Upcountry Sundays Acoustic Style event in Makawao featured the Rancho Relaxo All-Stars - too many stars to name here, but believe me, it was a stellar afternoon of music by some of Maui's best. Produced by Dorothy Betz and Les Adam, the monthly concert series has given me many hours of pleasure on the Casanova dance floor, and this session was the perfect capper to a weekend full of dance. Or the start of another week of musical movement . . . tap and jazz classes on Monday and Wednesday nights, the Toys For Tots Zumba-thon on Tuesday evening before returning to Casanova for the amazing Willie K and his band, rest up on Thursday because I'll need lots of energy for Wailuku First Friday.
If I seem obsessed, it's because I deprived myself of the pleasure of dance for 23 years. My husband felt it was inappropriate for me to cut a rug without him - and he didn't dance. Since his death five years ago, I've been making up for all that lost time.
As a child, I was fascinated by the footwork of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, Gene Kelly, Cyd Charisse, and especially the apache dancers that appeared from time to time on the Ed Sullivan Show. I twirled around my bedroom, my pillow clutched to my chest, imagining myself in the arms of a tall, dark and handsome stranger who would literally sweep me off my feet.
My father taught me to waltz and fox trot in preparation for Junior Prom, and my mom showed me how to jitterbug, which came in handy when we did "West Side Story" at Baldwin High, but most of the dancing I did as a teenager was straight-up rock 'n' roll. Even at the disco, we all boogied freestyle. So I continued to live out my ballroom fantasies with my pillow for a partner.
Many years later, my teenage son and I took a few ballroom dance classes together. I thought we were pretty good, but the teacher kept scolding me for trying to lead. "Mother, you are not the boss on the dance floor; let your son lead!" I couldn't help it. The pillow never complained.
Now I go out dancing at least twice a week, with or without partners. For me, it's more than recreation, it's required therapy. It's my favorite form of exercise, it's stress relief, it's complete and total bliss. I've said it before but it bears repeating: the world would be a better place if everyone danced, because you can't dance and be angry at the same time.
This week's First Friday in Wailuku offers lots of chances to dance, whatever your preferred style. Clay Mortensen will croon your favorite popular tunes on the Maui Thing stage all evening long. At the other end of the street, in Wailuku Banyan Tree Park, Kahulanui will serve up hot Hawaiian Swing after the Maui High School Band warms you up with Christmas music (yes, you can rock around the Christmas tree). Wes Furumoto will play slack key guitar at Wailuku Coffee Company in the afternoon. Ma Muse will present uplifting acoustic folk music at Body Alive Yoga later in the evening. I'll be emceeing the festivities, which will begin with a Christmas parade at 6 p.m. But mainly I'll be dancing in the street. Come join me. I promise I won't try to lead.
* Kathy Collins is a performance artist, broadcaster and freelance writer whose "Sharing Mana'o" column appears every Wednesday. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.