When I first heard the band Enter the Haggis in concert over 10 years ago, I hadn’t danced in public since giving up ballet when I was 12. Even in my concert-going phase during high school, I didn’t dance at the events, because I was too self-conscious about my weight and drawing any attention to my body.
Even in 2005 (or maybe 2006), it had only been a few years since losing 130 pounds, and I wasn’t used to my new body yet. I still didn’t know if I wanted to risk drawing attention to myself, for fear of judgment based on my appearance.
I didn’t expect anything different when I went to the Saltwater Music Festival at Thomas Point Beach. I just went with my brother, my niece (about 10), and my niece’s friend, hoping to hear some good music.
The first performers were good, but I don’t recall that they didn’t tempt any of us to move. After all, it takes a lot to break through New England reserve, with its lingering heritage of Puritanism.
But when Enter the Haggis went on stage, I could tell they were something different. They started off with a combination of Scotland the Brave and Haga Nagila, and I was hooked. I loved their humor, energy, bagpipes, fiddle, and combination of Celtic and rock. So did the rest of the crowd, and people started dancing. I didn’t, although I did tap my feet.
Then I started watching my niece and her friend. Her friend was quite shy, also not eager to draw attention to herself, but she had started moving a little to the music. After a few songs, the two them got up and started dancing. My niece’s friend still hesitated at first, but before long she seemed to forget about worrying what other people might think. She simply moved out of enjoyment, and she and my niece laughed and danced in the crowd.
It made me think about my own inner fears about not wanting people to watch me, and what I might be missing because of that fear.
Then, for the first time in over fifteen years, I got up and danced. And it was a blast.
No one looked at me oddly, no one commented or tried to convince me that I should sit this one out. I had forgotten the sheer pleasure in moving to music, and I was so glad to have rediscovered it.
This all came up for me again the other night, when I saw Enter the Haggis in concert again, and danced again, as I have at every performance of theirs since that first one (I’m now on concert six or seven). These days, I will also dance in public elsewhere, and sometimes at home just for myself. That joy and willingness to move to music is something I hope never to lose again.