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  • Laurie Frankel

Feeling stressed? Dance...outside...by yourself!

Updated: Aug 27, 2023

I’m an over thinker. At night I have a simple solution. Forget sheep, forget white-noise machines. For those who can count to two, follow my lead: “One,” on the in breath, “two,” on the out. It’s fascinating to see how often/quickly my mind takes an off-ramp and I’m right back perseverating, digging the carpet like my dog as if something meaningful/interesting/stinky-in-a-good way will appear.

Then it’s back to work, “One,” in, ”two,” out and before I know it I’m waking up, not in an enlightened way but from the alarm.


But come daylight I don’t recommend the one-two method for de-stressing because:

1) Unless the answer to a problem/question is, “one,” or “two,” it severely limits your capacity to function and,

2) You just might fall asleep.


To de-stress during the day I recommend you go Dance...Outside...In public!

Because upbeat music causes the brain to release dopamine, the feel-good chemical. So freeing, so fun. And in the words of Colbert, “so can you!”


Can you simply bound out the front door as if bursting onto the stage in a Broadway musical to get your groove on? Sure, but don’t be surprised if someone calls 911. For those who, like myself, need a quieter introduction, I’ve incorporated dance-o-rama into my hour-long walk routine which starts with, you guessed it, over thinking! then getting nearly splatted by a right-on-red driver after which I use the resulting adrenaline to jet up a looong hill where I pick up the first of two empty, airplane-sized vodka bottles (the 2nd is usually about 20 feet away) and finally a can of Modello. Is it one person drinking him/her/them selves silly? A party of two? Three?

ad logo for ATT it can wait campaign
aka don't be an a-hole

I contemplate my fantasy-drinking buddies as I pick up more trash, crest the hill and wait for the walk signal, watch as the driver, eyes down, doesn’t slow—ATT says, “it can wait,” but apparently it can’t—then I yell some choice words, enter the death zone, hesitate as the other right-on-redders ignore my existence then race to the other side. Exhilarating!

Melaleuca tree trunk
Ow!

I greet the Melaleuca trees—“Hello, ladies!—deposit my trash, walk past the lawn bowling facility and put in my ear buds. You might feel some resistance at this point. Ignore it! Like a pod person from “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” just put in your *&%$*# buds because on the other side of the first song I promise you’ll find redemption and nirvana (the transcendent state, not the band.)


I know what you’re thinking. I can’t dance…alone…in broad daylight…in public. As a good friend of mine says, te ne freghi! which is Italian for, what do you care??! (freeing yourself always sounds better in a foreign language.) But seriously are you going to let what others think get in the way of your joy? I didn’t think so—let’s begin.


Laurie’s retro Dance-in-Public song list (in order):

1) HEAVEN ON THE 7th FLOOR, Paul Nicholas (1977) run time: 2:45

This happy little number—not too fast, not too slow—starts off with a big Whoo! (9 in fact!) to help get your, er, whoo on. It’s an uplifting song about sexual predation with an eager man pursuing a completely disinterested woman in a stuck elevator, but come on guys, it was recorded in the cocaine-glamor-drug era of the 70s when that sort of illegal thing was…fun? Okay, whatever. Forget the words and simply enjoy the song’s ebullient pop-y beat as you raise your arms like the Broadway star you now are and belt out, Heeeeeaven! Let the dopamine begin!


Favorite lines: because out of context and decades later, they’re so creepy :)

Paul Nicholas as Jesus in the play Jesus Christ Superstar 1972
Bubbeleh, eat! Jesus!

"We're alone," I said, oh yeah

Looks like we could be here all night

Together ooh ooh

"There's a phone" she said uh huh

“You'd better have us out in five minutes’ time” whatever

“Please could you make it ten?” I told the operator


Fun fact: singer, Paul Nicholas has also had a long acting career starting with an emaciated turn as Jesus in Jesus Christ Superstar (1972.)


2) UPTOWN FUNK, Bruno Mars (2014) run time: 4:30, bpm: 115

Bruno Mars wearing curlers
Uptown curl you up!

Bruno’s too hot (hot damn)! This incredibly danceable song, coming in at 115 beats per minute helps even the most intransigent get chemically transported.


Favorite line: “Make a dragon want to retire, man.”


Least favorite line: “Julio, get the stretch!”

Not to be too PC here, but why can’t Chad or Frederick Worthington III or Bruno himself get it?


3) TUBTHUMPING by Chumbawamba (1997) run time: 3:33, bmp: 207

This song comes in at a whopping 207 beats per minute! If you’re into run-dancing this one is for you. Do not begin your outdoor dance odyssey here without first consulting your doctor.


This song got revived for me while watching, “Firefly Lane.” Confession, I watched all 26 episodes of the series (sometimes in Italian or French to lessen the guilty slide into Netflix oblivion.) I thought they did a pretty good job given the treacly story line. I was impressed with Katherine Heigl (she really can act!) as well as the actors who played the young Kate and Tully characters.

Beau Garret as Cloud from Firefly Lane and Grandma Moses

And plea to all casting directors: stop casting poor Beau Garrett as the go-to druggy mom, geez! And a big fat razzie to the makeup artist who aged her, unless “Grandma Moses” is what you were going for then Oscar for you!


“Firefly Lane” reference aside, the opening lyrics to this song are powerful and perfectly suited to the goal of mood enhancement while dancing in public:


I get knocked down, but I get up again.

You are never gonna keep me down.


I get knocked down, but I get up again.

You are never gonna keep me down.

I get knocked down, but I get up again.

You are never gonna keep me down.

I get knocked down, but I get up again.

You are never gonna keep me down.

(yes, you counted right, that’s four times

getting knocked and four times getting up…again.)

When run-dancing to this song, picture the naysayer(s) in your life and sing directly to them: You are never gonna keep me down! Ya hear me!? ’Cause here I go getting back up again and again and again and AGAIN! I’m tired.


Favorite line: “Don’t cry for me, Next Door Neighbor.” (capital emphasis mine)

The use of a generic noun phrase for a person’s name hits me hard in my creative gut, difficult to explain, but I find it a stroke of hilarious genius. Reactions may vary.


4) WHO THE HELL ARE YOU? Madison Avenue (2000) run time: 3:33, bmp: 128 bmp

Somewhat of a flash-in-the-pan with only one album, (not to be confused with the band Flash and the Pan) I can’t remember how I came across this song but like getting knocked down and getting back up again (and again and…you get it,) I find it empowering.


Favorite line: “…Now who the hell are you, to treat me like that?”

‘Nuff said.


If you’re angry-dancing (but in a happy way) and want to keep the vibe going the following are great additions:

When You Touch Me, Freemasons (2008) - the video makes a compelling argument for bringing back the bathing cap as fashion.


Cool Down

5) ISN'T IT TIME, The Babys (1977) run time: 4:28, bpm: 117

I’ve always loved this song. Starts nice and slow then builds to this oo, oo, oo energizing release. That and singer John Waite rocks some seriously great blue eye shadow. Like the The Piña Colada Song, the storyline reverses itself halfway through. At the start, he just can’t find the answers to the questions that keep going through his mind BUT then he does. He realizes the person he’s been ambivalent about the whole time IS the one—whew.

boy and girl dolls embracing while girl doll tries to pull away
I'd rather be on top of a wedding cake.

If this were real life and “John” never got therapy, eventually his fears would return and he’d be right back to the song’s ambivalent beginning which is sort of a nice coda to the cycle-of-heartbreak that is life :)

6) BETTY DAVIS EYES, Kim Carnes (1981) run time: 3:38, bpm: 116

Some recent podcast mentioned this song so I watched the video and was shocked to see how back in the 80s viewers could watch a 16-second, slow-dolly camera move to a singer without passing out from boredom (no wonder coke was such a hit.) When finally we reach her, fully-clothed, lying on her stomach, raised up on her elbows, her head’s covered in black cloth like you see prior to an execution. Did you miss that? I said her head was completely covered in black cloth like you see prior to an execution. It blows off (the cloth, not her head) as she starts to sing but still it’s creepy. All this unsexy glamour is made up for by the percussive section of the song which is visually narrated by people dressed in the court of Louis XIV slapping the bejesus out of each other to the beat of the song which is exceptionally satisfying in a way you don’t really want to admit to…in public…like I just did.


7) DANCING IN THE MOONLIGHT, King Harvest (1999) run time: 2:59, bpm: 136

I don’t know why I know this song, can’t for the life of me remember when I first heard it…okay 1999, yes…ah, ’99 was planning to leave...Chicago...after eight years and...a breakup. Yes, it's all coming back. Ugh.


Favorite line: “You can’t dance and stay uptight.”

It's true, you can’t! Just try frowning or thinking a negative thought while twirling to this one. It’s a supernatural delight.


8) SOMEBODY WAS WATCHING, Pops Staples (1999) run time: 4:08, bpm: 167 - but it’s R&B so it’s “slow” fast.


While I don’t believe anybody is, ever was or will be watching over me, Pops voice is enough to make me a believer (for 4:08 anyway.) It has that life-lived, death-is-near, soulful quality not unlike Johnny Cash’s recording of Hurt (2019)—sublimely haunting (and a dopamine killer.) If you’re not familiar with The Staple Singers, a group Pops founded with his children, google it!


And that's it. Thank you for reading if you got this far. Hope to see you getting your funk on at the next stop light. I promise to try my best not to run you over because it can't wait I mean it can, it can, right.



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4 Comments


diane
Jul 10, 2023

I’m already a member of this club - Add kitchen dancing to your repertoir:) makes the food taste better.

Great read - need a playlist;)

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Laurie Frankel
Jul 28, 2023
Replying to

Given my kitchen is reserved for dispensing water expanding its use as a dance floor is a great idea!

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margie polimeni
margie polimeni
Jul 09, 2023

Cara amica adoro il tuo modo di scrivere…mi hai rallegrato il pomeriggio!

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Laurie Frankel
Jul 28, 2023
Replying to

Cara, sono felice di saperlo. finalmente ho scoperto come rispondere ai commenti!

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