NEW YORK, NY - CIRCA 1978: Bianca Jagger at Studio 54 circa 1978 in New York City. (Photo by PL Gould/IMAGES/Getty Images)
Bianca Jagger at Studio 54 circa 1978. (Photo by PL Gould/IMAGES/Getty Images)

Every morning I do 15-minutes of disco-dancing in the privacy of my own home, says Elaine Kingett. I turn up the heating, thrust my limbs into Lycra and throw myself around to The Village People and Gloria Gaynor. With any luck, I build up a bit of a sweat and most certainly feel a hell of a lot happier. Then I have a nice lie down and do 15 minutes of yoga-ish stretches. I love dancing, I adore dancing, but I so rarely get a chance these days. I have learnt to go anywhere on my own, even to a restaurant in the evening, but I draw the line at going alone to a club or a dance. Thank God for the season of Christmas parties and a chance to wear something other than thermals and walking boots. The chance for older people to get down, but not too far.

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Studio 54 photo: Harper’s Bazaar

My granddad taught me ballroom dancing on our family escapes to a holiday camp in Devon; how to Roger de Coverley and Gay Gordon. Every episode of Strictly has me longing for an acre of shiny parquet and a glitter ball. In my teens, I discovered the delights of dirty dancing: the opportunity to get up close and personal to a boy I fancied and the euphoria of dancing with someone who read my body and my mind. Then it was Studio 54 in NYC, Zanzibar in London and Divina in Milan. Now reports are telling us that dancing is the best kind of exercise for warding off dementia, but where the hell do we go? Zumba classes? No, I want the lights dimmed, both sexes, and a gap for a drink every now and then. There’s a new night in Stoke Newington called Mind The Gap for folk, ‘too young for Wetherspoons and too old for Dalston’. I’ll go if you’ll come with me. In the mean time, I guess we have to warn the neighbours, roll up the rug and invite a few friends round. Happy Christmas!

Elaine Kingett runs creative writing holidays in Spain and Wales and workshops in London; for more information check out Write It Down.

31 thoughts on “Let’s go disco dancing

  1. Love it! Also love the Konga class I attend at my local gym in Australia. Konga is worldwide, find one and dance around your (gym) bag with fellow disco divas of all ages. Feels kinda cool to be workin’ it with the 20 somethings and feels very back in the day when the obligatory old school track comes on. Ike and Tina Turner were a feature a few months back. Dance on sista’s. xx

  2. Way to go Elaine! Disco music and dancing was – is / pure escapism and fun to millions of men and women. I occasionally play it to my teenage male students for fun in last period of Friday lessons – the best dancers and singers instinctively break out in their best moves and know all the words. Hilarious. No amount of mocking by my Echo and the Bunnymen and Buzzcocks loving boyfriend in the early ’80s ever sent me to the dark side! Nile Rodgers of the band Chic is still a force in the pop music scene and summed up disco’s power in this article http://i.stuff.co.nz/entertainment/music/78488605/nile-rodgers-the-defender-of-disco

  3. Love this! I don’t really do disco, but I regularly dance like nobody’s watching with my daughter. Silly, ugly (which is the point, I guess) and so so liberating!

  4. Come to Hanoi! In just a few years time I’ll be old enough to join the groovers and shakers who dance on every available space as soon as the sun comes up.

  5. I’m all for giving a twirl and some in the comfort of my own home… it’s an easy way to loosen up and have fun and you don’t have to wait to be asked to dance… as you did in my childhood! Definitely way to go!

  6. Definitely! Nothing better than a boogie around the kitchen when no-one is looking. I, too, learnt ‘proper’ ballroom dancing when I was younger (much to my youthful embarrasment) but I did love it, including all the sparkly frocks and elaborate hairdos!!! Nothing better than good old 70’s/80’s funk music to get me leaping around the kitchen full of joyous abandon. As an aside, I saw Bianca Jagger in Harrods a few weeks’ ago in the Lingerie department (I am sure she doesn’t wear ‘underwear’ it has to be ‘lingerie’) and she is still fantastically exotic and surprisingly tiny.

  7. Your piece reminds me of the British t.v. series “River”with Stellan Skarsgard. There is a scene where he dances with and without a partner (Nicola Walker) as “Love to Love” by Tina Charles blasts away. It’s a really odd (spoiler if I explain this) but an incredibly life affirming scene. I think that song is repeated throughout the series.

    “Oh I love to love
    But my baby just loves to dance
    He wants to dance, He loves to dance, He’s got to dance “

    1. Thank you Heidi for the reminder. That was a wonderful serial, each episode peeling away layers enabling the characters and us to understand what had happened. I often wept watching it but as you say it was life affirming also.
      And now I have an ear worm!

  8. Great idea that night club Mind the gap!
    I love dancing and won’t stop because I am of a certain age it runs through my veins

  9. You just need to find the right Zumba class. My teacher is 43, (not skinny) and more than half of her students are 45+ I’m probably the oldest at the min at 60. Try joining a class? I now do salsa, bachata and Kizomba. We rotate partners all evening as a) it’s better for your learning and b) everybody has a go with a partner if you aren’t able to supply one yourself.

  10. I too love Disco Dance/Music and now I’m much older Line Dancing fulfilles that “need”. It took me a while to learn but it’s fabulous, being so uplifting and wonderful for your wellbeing.

  11. Love this so much. What a fantastic idea that club! I agree if we could all get out a few nights a week with friends to disco we’d all live longer… Heck of a lot better than sitting in front of the t.v. and watching the news. I try to play dance music while I cook. Makes it a lot more fun! Kim

  12. I have longed for somewhere to go dancing! Until my mid forties I was happy to go clubbing, but now, aged 55, I have no one willing to come with me anymore (and I don’t want to go alone). There must be a real market for dance/club nights for people my kind of age? I really hope that this becomes a reality in the area I live. There’s nothing to compare with getting on the dance floor, entering the zone, and dancing like there’s no tomorrow!

  13. Love this! I am lucky to have a couple of friends who play in a very fun band and I do go ‘alone’ to dance, dance, dance. I also dance in my living room on the regular – it helps a lot if I’m feeling sad.

  14. Being a Stokey woman (well N16 anyway) I looked up Mind the Gap because oh yes I would go with you! Sadly it was on in November but I hope they will repeat it soon. I dance in the kitchen and when my much beloved ginger cat was alive he would be in my arms – goodness he was tolerant – can’t do that with the present feline! Great post.

  15. What is it about disco? I used to think it was just us, you know, the ones who actually discoed though that short era, but I see kids of all ages are still affected by it. I can go long periods without even thinking about it, but if I hear a bit, I have to start dancing.

    Have you all seen “the Martian”? Fantastic movie, but I was twitching all over because of the soundtrack. 🙂

  16. I agree, Elaine, I want the dim lights, the great music, and a drink, but I want to go back and be twenty-something again, when anything is possible. Too sad ?

  17. Down here in Melbourne there is “No Lights No Lycra” – venues where they dim the lights and turn up the music and away you go. Dance to your heart’s content.

  18. …..eeee ladies….Elaine …Thanks for the Mind the Gap mention-you’re never too old.!! We started our club night in our mid 40s to mid 50s because we felt the same, loved dancing but nowhere we felt we cd go without being the oldest swingers and where we’d like the music. Well what a life changer as a plus we give the door money to local charities and some of us are now gigging DJS – GREAT site

  19. I miss the salsa dance floor — especially dancing to a live Latin jazz band. One of my best dance memories is Lincoln Center’s Midsummer Night Swing when the Machito orchestra recreated the 1950s mambo nights at the Palladium in NYC. Thanks for the reminder of how great dancing makes me feel. Time to get back to the dance floor even if it’s my living room.

  20. This post brought back some memories of my younger days in NYC and my misadventures both at Studio 54 and some other places down in the Village.
    It also brought back a funny memory. When we moved from NYC to the New Jersey suburbs, we had quite the bit of space in the new house compared to our apartment. I also forgot that people could look into your windows in the burbs. Anyway, I used to dance around with my kids–strange, but true. It was one of those “things” we just did. Anyway, one morning my next door neighbor mentioned that she had a very entertaining time watching me dance around the living room with my kids because we truly looked like we were having a fun time. I don’t embarrass easily and I wasn’t embarrassed either. I just laughed it off–and continued my dancing with the kids–but with the shades drawn!

  21. Thank you all for your comments…keeeeep dancing! If you follow me on Instagram, I’ll let you know when the next Mind The Gap is on in Stoke Newington, N16 – we can get up a posse!

  22. Dancing is fun and a great workout. I began ‘Line Dancing’ a year ago not having had anything to do with C & W music however found that we dance to all styles of music – hooray. No partners needed and move to music – what more do you want 🙂 A great group of people with social activities together if you want to participate – ages range from early 40’s to 80’s. I’m sold – Sam the Aussie.

  23. I am 71 now and I still dance alone at home.It helps me to live better and be happier.Love to all of you from Buenos Aires(Argentina).Mónica,

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