MY daughter’s singing segued effortlessly from ‘shake it off’ to ‘let it go, let it go’” as she walked up the stairs, switching note-perfect from Taylor Swift to the national anthem for children.
“What a brilliant idea,” I thought, having a Eureka moment. “That’s what I’ll do. I’ll shake it off, I’ll let it go.”
The greyness of January was getting in on me, gluing my bum to the sofa every night and making me sluggish and lazy. I literally needed to shake it off, to get off my weary ass and do something.
Earlier that afternoon, I’d spotted a notice in a shop window: ‘Zumba classes in the local parish hall every Tuesday night. Come along, get fit and have fun,’ the poster said.
I always fancied the idea of getting fit, but that’s all it was – an idea. It was a thought that would fly into my head every now and again to be mulled over and then forgotten. I was the type of person who hated sport, and when I heard the word ‘gym’, I’d think of a man whose name was short for James.
Zumba, though, was different. Zumba was dancing, and dancing was something that I equated with fun.
So I enlisted for the classes. Before that, I kitted myself out in head-to-toe lycra and optimistically bought a sweatband for my forehead because I figured that I was going to need it.
I duly arrived at the appointed time at the parish hall and, pressing my nose up against a window, peered inside. The windows had steamed up a bit but I could see that the room was pulsating with women, hopping around and having fun.
I snuck into the back row and, watching the instructor, Nikki, waited for the beat to come around.
The women were all shapes and sizes. Some of them were skinny as whippets, others were generously proportioned. All of them, however, knew the moves and zumba’d fluently and easily.
“C’mon ladies! Shake that bootie! You can do it! Shake it! Shake it!” Nikki shouted into the tiny microphone that she wore in front of her mouth.
The women responded wholeheartedly by cocking their arses into the air and enthusiastically twerked them. By golly, Miley Cyrus would be proud.
“And forward, ladies! Move those shoulders!” Nikki shouted again, her voice riddled with exclamation marks.
With that, the women moved their shoulders back, stuck their boobs into the air and shook the upper parts of their bodies. Of course, this move suited the well-endowed women better than the leaner ones, but I could tell that each of them loved it.
I particularly noticed one girl who was putting her heart and soul into it. She was short in stature and wore a yellow and black striped T-shirt. Her face was red from the exertion and her forehead was a frown of concentration. She was taking this very seriously indeed. Some of the others were laughing, especially when they made a mistake, but not this one. She looked like an angry wasp that was struggling to get out of a jam jar. And even though she was small, for some reason there was a wide berth of space between her and the others.
When the music came around again, I shook and stomped and twirled with the best of them. In fact, I was having a ball.
“Yeah!” I thought to myself. “I’m shaking it off. I’m letting it go!”
I was oscillating wildly, lost in my own little world when ziiiiiiiiiiiippppp, it all come crashing down.
“F*ck off, you. Get back to your own space,” the Angry Wasp girl hissed at me.
“You talking to me?” I replied, both breathless and taken aback.
“Yeah, I’m talking to you. You nearly knocked my head off with your wild spinning. So f***k off away from me or you’ll be sorry the next time,” Wasp girl said.
More terrified than mortified, I moved to the other end of the hall as far away as I could go, realising why she had so much room around her …