How much time have you spent daydreaming about going out dancing? In the past few months, in your kitchen, in the shower, walking along the pavement with your headphones on. Where will it be, who will be there? In your daydream maybe everyone is there, like you’ve arrived in heaven, although that would probably freak you right out, you’d have to go and sit in a toilet cubicle for five minutes to calm down. But it’d be good to have a due date, a date when we can expect to be in a hot dark basement, a hot dark loud basement with maybe one part people we know, one part people who look a bit familiar, and two parts people we’ve never seen before, to smile, talk, sing, dance. Hugging, cuddling. Absolutely smooching. Watching how other people move, feeling them move against you, excited together as the next track starts, I LOVE THIS SONG, summoning ecstatic manifestations. 

It will be a while yet before we can dance together again. There probably won’t be one big party where you see all the people you want to see and hear all the songs you want to hear. We have lost beloved people this year, and we are also grieving for the time we’ve lost, the 2020 that haunts us, the 2020 that got cancelled sometime in March. Life-support systems were set up though: evening drinks on Twitter, a shared playlist; getting pissed on a bench in the park with some mates and a bluetooth speaker is, it turns out, pretty great even when you’re not fourteen anymore. Distant and shrunken processes have kept your rave heart beating. You may have self-medicated by watching (for example) online clips of the crowd coming up on airhorns, dry ice and N-Joi at Quadrant Park, or that centrepiece scene of dancing and looking and touching and singing in Steve McQueen’s Lovers Rock, or Mark Leckey’s video Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore (aka Koyaanisqatsi for caners) which reminds us I think that we are not just a nation of content creators or middle managers, craven jobsworths, exhausted bags of flesh and resentment, that we are also artists and writers and thinkers and builders and singers and lovers and dancers. 

It’ll be a while yet, but not too long. The longest nights are only here for a while then spring is on its way: the wheel keeps on turning, the sky’s rearranging. And our bone-deep desire for ecstasy and pleasure hasn’t gone anywhere, the joy of solidarity is never lost. Our new favourite drug, thanks to Pfizer or whoever, is on its way – and I suspect that the thrill I get from touching a stranger’s arm at the bar in The Social will resurrect dormant ecstatic pathways in my sleepy hibernation brain, that I’ll explode into new dimensions when I hear the right song in the right place with the right people. I bet you can guess which basement I’m imagining. There’ll be madness and glory, and we still have battles to fight: we must win so we can dance, we must dance so we can win. There will be new nights of sticky utopia that ooze, beautiful, into the rest of your life. That night-time world, half real and half imagined, will reappear beyond houses and family, and it will be full of dancing. Dissolving boundaries, holding each other, holding each other up, play and pleasure and adventure. Fucking hell I cannot wait. How wonderful it is that I am here, and you are too. Shall we dance? 

Anna Wood

Photo: Aiyush Pachnanda

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