Dance Babies Dance

I love dancing. I’m not amazing at it; I can shimmy my hips and stomp my feet, but I’m no fluid angel of light-borne energy or anything. But I genuinely love it. When I started to do some soul-healing a few years ago, I made reconnecting with my body in a positive way a priority, and dance was the perfect gateway drug into feeling better. For years, I had been ashamed of the way I looked—too lumpy, too squat, too thick, too much. Discovering Nia, with its emphasis on strength and pleasure and movement, was a balm. It was liberating to realize that whatever way I moved my body was right for me.

But so was just going dancing with my friends. Getting into a loud, dark space, filled with other people—some of whom wanted to hump, some of whom wanted to drink, and most of whom wanted to dance—has always been good for my primal nature. Some people scream off the edge of a cliff, some people order extra olives in their martinis, and some people go on extreme hikes and eat nothing but tinned fish and foraged roots for a week. I…like to dance. It lets me feel clean, energized, awake to parts of myself that sometimes sleep.

Pregnancy was hard for dancing. My back hurt, my hips hurt. So did my knees, my ankles, my feet. I had heartburn all the time. I was exhausted. And so dancing wasn’t a thing I did to relieve pressure. I wrote a lot, I knit a lot. I did a lot of sitting-down type activities. Coupled with the face that I was too big to comfortably fit inside our teeny tub, this meant that two major self-care routines were compromised. (The third trimester was very sad.)

Truthfully, I bought into the whole “get your body back” rhetoric that postpartum media sometimes spews. I really thought it would be business as usual once I delivered: after a few weeks, I’d get back into my size four pants, I’d return to my Paleo diet, and I’d get the same body I’d had before getting knocked up, only with milky tits and a baby on one hip. This happens for some women! I follow them on Instagram.

And for me, my boobs dropped about three inches, my stomach is unrecognizable, my hair fell out, and hips and back still hurt.

So, it’s been a process. Through it all, I tried to keep dancing. I listened to Sorry about 300 times in my last trimester. I laboured to David Bowie. I danced with NS to Zara Larsson and the Talking Heads. Every song felt meaningful, some perfect little encapsulation of the shock and rigors of living with a newborn, of how my life had changed. Music, and dancing in my living room, helped me move into this new role, to mourn for and shed my old life, and let me feel like I had carried something of myself into this crazy new world.

But you know what? I still missed dancing. Like in a club. With friends. And with NS on the scene, there was basically no way of onto that scene. He’s been exclusively breastfed since birth, so our tether for getting out has a three- to-four-hour stretch, max. But moreover, I am tired. His sleep hasn’t been those amazing fourteen hour stretches some babies will do, and we worked hard for many months to get him to sleep through the night. I used up all my clubbing energy at the crib. His crib. The idea of leaving the house at 9 PM to go out and do something is insane to me.

Anyway, a couple months ago I had a brainwave: what if we went clubbing—like with drinks and friends and booty shorts—only we did it in the afternoon? And we brought the baby? And so Booty Shaking Babies was born. I rented out Buddies in Bad Times Theatre for the afternoon, I threw up a couple posts on Facebook, and I made a playlist. People went nuts: the event sold out in just a couple weeks!

And when it happened, yesterday, the relief on people’s faces was palpable. The toddlers took over the stage, flipping their party dresses over their heads; another crew moved into the space under the stairs, creating an impromptu clubhouse for the slightly older kids. One dad told me, “It’s nice to be in a milieu with other parents that feels like it’s for adults,” as his tiny baby slept on his chest and we both nodded along to Usher. I danced the whole time: Whitney Houston, the Beastie Boys, Madonna, Justin Bieber, Drake, Bowie, Backstreet Boys. Pop songs from high school and current Top 40, hip-hop and alt-rock and Cancon and more. It felt liberating to not have to worry about NS (he fell asleep on me as we bopped together to Rihanna), it felt amazing to dance with my sister and husband (two dance buds 4 life), and it felt so validating to see other parents do the same.

I’m not really a “doer.” I have ideas and then they sort of fizzle, like a balloon slowly leaking air. But this one had legs. And I’m so glad that I made it happen. It popped open a pressure valve I didn’t know had been building, and  The look on NS’s face as the other babies slowly trickled in probably matched my own: Where did you all come from? I can’t wait to dance with you!

About the Author

Kaitlyn Kochany
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More about Kaitlyn Kochany

Kaitlyn Kochany is a Toronto-area freelance writer and editor. She had her son, NS, in January 2016, and has been trying to sleep and write since then.

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