Last night Hackney Colliery Band came to play at school. They were unbelievably good. Like life affirming-ly brilliant. They are a ten piece brass band that do their own tunes as well as other peoples’. Nope, I didn’t know you could make the trumpet do The Prodigy either. There were about 250 people in the theatre, maybe half of them pupils, and until the interval everyone was content to just tap their feet. But the kids weren’t having that in the second half. They all got up to dance. Looking at those happy children dancing was nearly as much fun as watching the band.
A few of the teenagers begged us to join but I gave some ridiculous excuse and kept my arse firmly on my seat. Well, maybe I wriggled a little bit. And eventually, at the very end I did get up. But really, far, far too late. In fact, as far as I could tell, only one other adult danced for the entire second half.
I spent a lot of my time dancing in nightclubs in my twenties. And I know I’m meant to say now, as a nearly-middle-aged, responsible mother of three, what a waste of money/time/kidney function those nights were… But no. Because those nights were fucking brilliant. I might not be able to entirely remember them, but I know they were some of the happiest in my life.
I would come home sweaty and grubby, shoes in hand, smile on face. I did not look cool, sophisticated, or even half respectable. Often I’d be on the tube home on a Sunday morning as the people on the seats opposite were going to church. Last night reminded me of those times. And of the incredible joy that music can bring. And that when we sit down instead of getting up to dance, in the presence of musicians who are so full of generosity and vitality, we don’t just rob them of something, but also ourselves. I hope those kids bouncing in the front row last night, so utterly devoid of self-consciousness, don’t discover all this for a really long time. Because really, it is never worth sacrificing having a blast for looking cool, sophisticated, or even half respectable.