Dancing when no one’s watching

Friday, 13 March 2020

7:18 am / home office armoire / my urban corner of NJ

Things to do during the isolation of pandemic, which coincides with Lent, both a time of giving things up. I could give up picking my nose: nothing like saving the coronavirus the trip and plunging the microbes right into my moist receptive nasal passages.

I could give up picking at my face, which in addition to the risk of scarring my complexion also saves the coronavirus the trip: delivers it first-class to my face and provides easy access to key points of entry–eyes, nose, mouth.

Things I’ve taken up during these days of pandemic: listening to WBLS as I work from home. I missed out on so much music when it first came out in the 1980s and 90s because it might expose me as ghetto, brown and living in the projects. Girls with hoop earrings, peroxided and crunchy hair wearing spandex pants or too tight jeans and midriff tops from Easy Pickins listened to Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam out in the open, popping their chests to the beat blasting from a boom box or a car driving past the Ravenswood Houses. I wasn’t one of those girls.

I listened to Lisa Lisa too, but in secret, behind the closed door of my bedroom. (Not because my parents had thoughts on Lisa Lisa, but because they were my parents and always up my ass and boundaries needed to be set.) I’d dance in whatever spandex I had (which I only ever wore behind the closed bedroom door because again, my life was about setting boundaries). I’d dance in front of the full-length mirror on my closet door, sliding on the remnant linoleum my mom had gotten at the hardware store on Broadway and installed herself. Linoleum is not a first-choice floor covering, least so when the patterns from which to choose are the leftovers of what’s been bought at full price, the institutional black tile flooring of every apartment in NYCHA is very clearly not a choice of any sort.

I haven’t thought about those hours spent dancing to Lisa Lisa on the linoleum behind the closed door of my bedroom for decades. I remember those days of growing up in Ravenswood each time Lisa Lisa and LL Cool Jay and Mary J. Blige play on WBLS as I work from home during this pandemic and take a break to dance on the hardwood flooring of that I chose and had installed professionally in my condo.

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