Who taught you that you had the power to invent? To create? To be your own you?
I remember pretending to be a tree. Walking like a giant, then a mouse, then running running running until a gang of children collapsed on the floor in my mum’s playful dance and drama classes.
I remember jumping from cushion to upturned rocking chair without touching the floor in our front room, kicking and waving and star-jumping off the rocking chair to Racey’s Lay your Love on Me and Ian Dury’s Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick.
I remember sitting under a blanket, off sick from school, watching men and women in leotards leap beautifully, making lines across cold mirrored rooms at the Laban Centre, my hard-working mum waving them along, and waving up at me.
I remember where I learnt to love dance. Where I learnt to love moving in response to music. To start doing without judging. To explore creating a space with my body. To create - movement, me in a space, joy.
This is my creative heritage.
My mum was a dancer (that's her on the right). She still is.
I’ve never had a dancer’s body. I had a brief fling with ballet until I overheard the ballet teacher telling my mum that I couldn’t be in the Nutcracker because I was too fat. I don’t remember going back. But I didn't stop dancing.
Dance marks so many of the important chapters of my life. It was the only physical activity I enjoyed at school. From indie mosh-pits to Madchester to rave, I danced and danced to find myself. I wrote, and I danced.
On my 30th birthday, I won a dance like your dad contest – it was easy really, I just danced to a completely different tune in my head. Although funnily enough, my dad’s a pretty good dancer.
I was first attracted to my husband on the dancefloor. Now there’s a man with a sense of humour and masses of confidence in his own unique moves…! I love and still love that about him. He was so enthusiastic when we danced at our wedding 'first dance' that he pulled a muscle. Heroically, he carried on, just with a slightly tighter smile and less crazy leg movements...
Recently, I hosted a business-mums’ networking workshop. A woman I hadn’t met before arrived, and grinned delightedly as she saw me. “I’m so glad it’s you! I’ve danced next to you before, and you’re a great dancer. You love dancing, I know this will be good!” It was one of the most wonderful ways I have ever been greeted.
It felt like she had connected with my essence in some way, the creative bit that now is rarely shared as a mother who doesn’t get to go out and dance very often.
Now, I do zumba. Along with yoga, it's my precious time for me. You have to follow someone else’s moves, but the teacher creates a really supportive fun space and I love moving my body there. I grin the entire way through.
But it's when I dance my own steps, that I feel truly connected to me. I feel beautiful and free.
It has to be the right space of course – a friendly one, not a preening one. I miss the days of losing myself in night clubs, but I don’t miss the performance.
The front room is fine. A party with friends is better. I used to go to a regular barefoot disco which I loved, and tried 5 Rhythms dancing once. One day I'll try a silent disco.
As a mother, it has become even more important to me to find those things that connect me to me. I am not a dancer, but I love to dance. And I love to create.
My mum continues to inspire me. Together we have created Story of Mum, this creative space for mums.
And the two of us are waltzing our way over to New York together tonight, to share our exhibition of mother's stories!
There is no dance in the exhibition, (at least, not yet!) but it is very much fuelled by that gift of creative heritage - by being given the tools to be free, that space to connect to my creative core.
I’m passing it on to you here, and on to my kids in front room discos and beach picnic parties. And I am so grateful to my beautiful dancing mother.
I can't wait to spend 5 days in New York together! Find out more here and join our events at the Museum of Motherhood on Thursday 5 December, and Sunday 8 December.
And find out more about Lucy's wonderful book The Rainbow Way.