I consider dancing much like vitamin D, which I also need in large amounts to deflect Seasonal Affective Disorder and general bad moods. Despite hating the cold worse than Han Solo on Hoth, I try to drag my butt out as often as I can muster and shake it vigorously.
Growing up in radio-station distance to a big party city will put the ants in your pants at a young age. 103.5 WKTU was the station that defined the '90s for me; THE BEAT OF NEW YORK as they called it. I’m not embarrassed to say that I have disco in my DNA; my relatives are all dancing queens and party people. Supposedly they were trolling around the hotspots of the late ‘70s and early-to-mid ‘80s before I was born.
Then, watching the ‘90s unfold as an MTV watching youngin’, I envied aunts, uncles and older cousins who were 17 to 30. I wanted to be in the club, dancing the night away and LIVING MY LIFE! I was that kid who was crying because the dance/wedding/party was over and it was time to go home.
Luckily for the progeny of Brooklyn-bred immigrant children of the dance, there is this lovely little thing called TEEN NIGHT, and even luckier for me, it happened in New Jersey! And if you aren’t yet a teen, well honeychild there’s the Escapades for you! I only was able to go a handful of times, but you should know that Escapades was a "club" for kids 10 to 12 who were too young for teen night across the street at Hunka Bunka (now known as Starland Ballroom).
After countless years of sitting in traffic getting to and from NJ to Brooklyn and Staten Island, I had nearly every Hi-NRG dance song memorized. Too much time passed in between school ice cream socials, and I needed to get it out!
Those sweat-soaked memories were pretty much some of the only good ones of that period of my childhood; getting decked out (I was only allowed to wear makeup to special events or occasions) and hiding halters and other wannababy-raver attire under layers from whatever adult was dropping off me and my partner in crime. There was purity in it, for all the suggestive songs we were singing, we barely talked to boys; we just put on blue Jordache lipstick and boogied down to the ground.
Somewhere in between then and turning 18, things got much, much darker, but when all the clouds departed, I found myself on the right side of 21 with a newfound confidence. I remembered all of the songs, and dancing, and how it made me feel.
Now, let me clarify: I’m not talking about going out and getting wasted. I’m talking about going dancing. Sometimes the two overlap, but the important thing is the burn you feel from going hard into the wee hours of the morning. No matter what kind of music I was digging at the time, from ska to gangsta rap and every disco and world beat in between, dancing is really one of the keys to happiness for me.
Here’s a playlist I made just for you babies and your babies, called MS. VAIN. With three decades of dance music, there is a special emphasis on ‘90s Hi-NRG jams to get your blood pumping. This can be used for a workout, while getting ready, or both!
If you are in need of some dance, look into No Lights, No Lycra, a drug- and alcohol-free dance ‘class’ that is dimly lit and anonymous. There are many versions of this around the world, and you can always start your own! You can also hop over to the nearest watering hole and drink water or firewater, if you aren’t satisfied singing into your hairbrush at home.
I have hand-selected some affirmations from these inspirational jams, and chosen a product to go along with the memory or feeling.
You can be mystical magical physically phenomenal: “Don’t Stop Moving” by Livin’ Joy
This song is more than inspirational, it’s like a polite kick in the ass. It reminds me of scribbling iridescent eye pencils all over my hooded lids, allowing UV light to make it look like a camo pattern.
If I need to do that today, I could grab some NARS The multiple in Luxor.
Love, life, and laughter is all I believe: “Dreamer” by Livin’ Joy
Holy hairbrush jam! I was more than a little obsessed with this song. This mantra is a hilarious precursor to those “Live, Laugh, Love” wall decals. You know decor has hit a fever pitch when the ladies’ room on the Brighton Beach boardwalk has one above the stalls. But I digress.
This song makes me think about that time I used Wite-Out as lipstick. It looked AWESOME, but whoa boy, did I get in trouble. Now I know better and there are two great options for a matte white lip: Lip Tar (obvi) or my fav cheapie option is some zinc oxide cream, though it won’t be as matte or long-lasting.
You've got to forgive and forget. Let hate, let hate, be your enemy: “Now That We Found Love” by Third World
This song is an oft-covered gem originally by The Ojays. I chose the Third World version over the Heavy D and The Boys version because it is a bit more fun as a funky reggae flavored jam, and the vocals are just incredible.
We can NEVER have too much encouragement to let go of hate. Hate is toxic, hate is gross, but still, no one wants to see someone they aren’t quite fond of with, let’s say, smeared lipstick or eyeshadow. Here’s why you should throw on a lid or lip primer when using experimental or unique colors. A bit of eyelid primer has saved my semi-hooded lids from getting creased many times. I like Bite for lips and Urban Decay for eyes.
Be free, leave your troubles behind, just this the vibe rock in your mind. It's a better trip than ecstasy, so won't you get with me: “Stand Up” by Love Tribe
The best thing about feel-good party anthems is that they are simultaneously fun and cheesy. There’s something so awesome about unashamed expression, and party jams like this one will have you doing the worm across the cafeteria in no time!
You don’t need drugs or alcohol to have a good time, but if you do choose to indulge, always be safe. For those of us who have a few drinks from time to time, there is a beautiful little helper for the next day skin dryness:Rosewater and Glycerin Spray. This stuff is just the right amount of moisture for the face and aromatherapy for that headache.
I think I am incredibly jealous of those who were growing up in the ‘80s and ‘90s, when money flowed like water and everyone I knew was kind of rich except my family. Nope, now everyone has downsized a lot or a little, and moods are more grim. I am just utterly fascinated by the time leading up to the 2000s, where, to me, everything changed dramatically and seemingly overnight.
I will admit something here: I watch The Carrie Diaries (Sable is laughing at me as she reads this). My cousin is on the line, trying to get me to go out, and I likely will, but my dirty secret is that on Fridays, I prefer to watch The Carrie Diaries while soaking in the tub. I am a sucker for a story, and knowing just how Ms. Bradshaw got to her SATC level of fabulosity was just something I needed to watch.
Young Carrie floats around Manhattan as a largely unsupervised teenager, which is the norm when you grow up near the commuter trains. In the ‘burbs, people do not accept special snowflakeness as readily, and I don’t blame them much. Much like baby Bradshaw, I thrive when I’m up to my eyeballs in culture of all forms. It provides a chance at true freedom from the pain of the past and a petri dish to let the creativity virus take over. Dancing with the faceless masses to loud jams is church; catharsis at its finest. Releasing all the pent-up badness out through your crown chakra and into the atmosphere. Now I have nearly 24-access to it, and seek confession to the priests of music when I know nothing else will work.