The World According to Layne

You Just Can’t Stop My Dancing Feet

You just can’t stop my dancing feet – this is why I believe I’m a reincarnated dancing machine from the ‘80s…or ‘60s…or all of the decades.

There have been times in my life when I’ve been told to stop dancing.

What. Frickin’. Blasphemy.

I think it all started when I was younger than 1 (I’m not sure of the exact age, but it was early enough to scar my memory) when my brother and I were dancing to “Cotton Eye Joe.” I was just barely able to walk, so my dancing skills involved trying not to fall down while my brother pretended he was on a horse and rode around the living room swinging his invisible lasso. At one point, my brother hit me in the face with a pillow and I fell pretty hard. I immediately started crying (I’m not sure whether it was because I was hurt or because I was disappointed he ruined my dance routine).

But my brother isn’t the only one who has thwarted my dancing efforts. Many people in my 21 years of life have told me to stop dancing and refuse to believe that I am a reincarnated dancing queen. Joke’s on them! The end to every musical proves dancing always reigns supreme.

For proof that my spirit comes from dancing fools from many previous lifetimes, here are some moments in my life when I’ve been told to put away my bo-bo-bo boogie shoes. Also, these times are compared with popular musicals to prove to you that I must be a reincarnation of one (or all) of these characters.

IMG_0882The four-year-old Black Swan

I began my dancing journey like any 4-year-old: with ballet. But my hinderance to dancing was similar to Nina’s (Natalie Portman) in Black Swan. I jeopardized my tiny ballet dreams when I decided to fall off my bike and break my arm. Nina also jeopardized her own ballet dreams when she went insane.

Although I wasn’t a mentally insane 4-year-old (debatably), I did ruin my dreams of becoming a professional ballerina (but my pink cast matched my pink tutu, so at least something was right in the world).

I turned away from ballet and continued to pursue more realistic dancing dreams that were also thwarted by odd forces of nature.

Dirty Dancing at the Hard Rock Cafe

In sixth grade, I went on a trip to Washington, D.C. It was the first time I was away from my parents, and in typical Layne dirty dancingfashion, I took every opportunity I could get to goof off (the irony being that I was attending a leadership conference). One night, the group had dinner at the Hard Rock Café. I was somehow misinformed that we were allowed to dance on the tables.

So when “Y.M.C.A.” came on, I hoisted myself atop the chairs and showed off my grade-A dance moves. The waitresses yelled at me to get down, which made me really confused.

This experience is easily comparable to Dirty Dancing when Patrick Swayze says “no one puts Baby in a corner.” Except instead of a hunky gentleman taking me by the hand and twirling me around while I wore a pink dress, I stayed in my booth corner with my khakis. I guess it is possible to put Baby in a corner.

Cut from Chicago

The dancing fiasco of sixth grade fortunately didn’t keep my dreams of becoming a musical actress from thriving. My freshman year of high school, I tried out for the musical Chicago. If memory serves, I chicagocompletely nailed my audition.

But I guess the directors didn’t think so, because I didn’t get a callback.

In this way, I was exactly like Chicago’s main character, Roxie — a struggling actress just looking to make it big. I didn’t end up cheating on my husband and killing my beau (I have trouble landing one man, nonetheless two), but the point still remains. I am but a blond jailbird waiting to break free in song.

Hairspraying on the water slides

Like any teenager, I became a lifeguard at the age of 16. I worked at an indoor YMCA that had two water slides that roared through the whole building. When it was my turn to work at the water slide station, I’d take the opportunity to practice my singing and dancing skills since no one could see or hear me atop the monstrous slides.

My favorite song was “I Can Hear the Bells” from the hit musical Hairspray. Since I identify closely with the main character who sings and dances her way through Baltimore, I couldn’t help but belt out every note — the question of whether I was in tune is up for interpretation. I never found my Zac Efron equivalent of a ridiculously good-looking boyfriend who saw me for who I really am, but I did imagine such a boyfriend.

But one time when I was in the groove and belting loudly, “Can’t you hear my heartbeat keeping perfect time?” a little girl tapped me on the waist and told me she would like to go down the slide. The look she gave me let me know that I probably shouldn’t sing again — so after that, I kept my water slide showtunes to a dull roar.

Footloose in the parkfootlloose

This next story not only proves that I have great taste in music, but also that I’m probably psychic.

At the outdoor Argo Café last summer, there was a band playing some hip-hoppin’ tunes. Not a lot of people were dancing, so I took initiative and danced around in circles while some people started to bob their heads and the rest just stared awkwardly.

During a song break, I shouted, “Footloose!” to the band. The lead singer stopped and stared in my direction. “Who said that?” she asked. “How did you know that we were about to play ‘Footloose?’”

For the next couple of minutes I danced away to my favorite ‘80s song, not caring who watched. This is undeniably similar to the experience of Wren (Kevin Bacon) in Footloose. (Note: I AM ABSOLUTELY NOT REFERRING TO THE REMAKE — THAT IS A TRAVESTY AND YOU ALL KNOW IT).

I, too, feel like a Chicago kid restrained by societal expectations and anti-dancing boundaries. A girl just wants to have fun (there’s another ‘80s reference for you), and I often feel I have to keep my dancing to extreme gymnastics within a car garage.

But during this dancing and psychic wonderment, my friend was waiting for me to go get pizza. She got so fed up with my dancing that she left without me.

I guess she takes pizza too seriously…but then again, I may take dancing too seriously.

My life as the “Dancing Queen”

To conclude, the song I identify with most is “Dancing Queen” from the hit musical Mama Mia!. No matter how many times people try to put me down, I am indeed a “Dancing Queen / young and free.”

I may not live in Greece, have a daughter or have had three consecutive rendezvous that left the paternity of my child in question, but I do answer all my problems in song and provide my own therapy — with dancing.

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Layne Hillesland is a senior communication student at Loyola University Chicago and the current Arts & Entertainment Editor for The PHOENIX.

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