By Marian Connor

I was thinking. . . about dancing.

I was listening to ‘Happy’ last week and thinking how much my parents would have liked it, the perfect rhythm for them to jive to.

My overriding memories of Marie and Flipper (no not a dolphin, although he did delight in diving and swimming; a nickname from playing football as a boy) is laughter and dancing. Sure they did lots of mundane stuff but laughter and dancing is foremost in my mind.

They were of a jiving generation. My mother loved to dance at any opportunity and told me many times how as a young woman the thought that she might “end up with” a man who wasn’t a great dancer, was laughable, ridiculous.  “And then I met up with your father”.

He obviously wooed her by other means, bless him, he did dance but not in the free limber way my mother moved. He marked time a lot with his feet, singing and whistling to the music, whilst Marie whirled around his outstretched arms, as if he were a human maypole, there to facilitate her happy feet.

I could envisage them laughing, singing, dancing as I listened to Mr Williams telling us how happy he was. They would have enjoyed it just as much as they did Ella or Frank.


They were definitely on to something although, neither of them made old bones, I am sure levity and movement enhanced their quality of life.

Laughter is an emotional expression universal amongst all cultures. We laugh more in the company of people we care for. This is illustrated in an article from The Telegraph last weekend.

Ed Drew an American soldier used tintype photography to record his squadron in Helmand province, Afghanistan.  Whilst thinking about his young son he said,

“I made these photos to say, this is who your dad was, these were the people who saw him laugh”.

Laughter bonds humans together.

“Amongst those whom I like or admire, I can find no common denominator, but among those whom I love, I can: all of them make me laugh”. W.H. Auden (Anglo American Poet 1907 – 1973)

When we laugh stress hormones decline.

The immune system is boosted by the production of T cells and B cells.

Blood vessels expand helping to lower blood pressure and our mood is lifted.

Researchers found pre- school children laugh around 300 times a day… adults 17 times.


I think we need to up our laughter quota. I do regularly by laughing at myself, an endless source of amusement.

Dancing = Moving to music

If you want a good quality of life, you need to move and dancing is the perfect way to do so.

Dancing improves co-ordination and cognition. As with all weight bearing exercise it is beneficial to your bones. Endorphins are released which can lift mood and increase your overall sense of well being.

 

If the thought of dancing in public makes you feel nauseous. Don’t . Just crank up the sound and shimmy from room to room around the house as I do, and oh, how I laugh at how ridiculous I look when I catch myself in a mirror. I think Marie and Flipper would be laughing too.

Check out Aaron Johnson, who really has taken ‘dance like no one is watching’ to heart.

 

“Mind you Hugh Gaitskell was a very good dancer, and to me, that is more important than politics in a man”. Barbara Castle (British Labour Party politician 1910-2002)

Ed Drew’s photography looks as if it’s from another time – I like the feel of them. Afghanistan, Combat Zone Tintype

This article by Richard Powers, Stanford University might persuade you to dance yourself giddy. Use it or Lose it: Dancing makes you smarter

Image Tile /Header – Marie and Flipper dancing on holiday in Jersey – from the Connor Family Archive

 

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Photo of Marian Connor and black text saying "Always looking over the horizon to discover treasures to share. Often times whilst partaking of a fine red."