The Music Is All There Is

What do you get dancing the shag at SOS?

Everybody gets what they came for.  That was my impression.

I just hoped SOS wouldn’t end before it got old.

You never want the music to stop, to go back where you come from, where the rules stay the same all year.

At SOS a different set of commandments seems to be in force, like it used to be at the beach in the summer, when we were doing the shag dance as kids; the rules were different, with different penalties to pay.  The usual definitions of “good” and “bad” might completely and equally swap places overnight, with a new girl to dance with, at the beach in the summer.  Or at SOS, suddenly embracing a girl you haven’t danced with in forty years.

When we were kids at the beach, to be good was to be transformed into something pretty and brown.  We belonged in the sun for as long as it was hot outside.  We were beautiful and blooming.  Together in memory forever.

At SOS, the music sweeps away cobwebs in the joints of our knees.  It could be memory itself that binds a picture of youth to the body of an aging dancer.  To speak of earlier times in some way brings alive a connection, generates an electrical charge emanating from youth.  The older we get, the better it feels to remember the best:

At the beach in the summer, among others of our kind, we were quick to undress, free to parade in stylized underwear called bathing suits.  The beach made girls want to look good naked.  At the beach, there were two commandments the boys obeyed: one was to get a suntan, the other to be a peacock of the dance called shag, according to both definitions of shag.

The music was the link to an attitude for being the way we were when we were fearless.  Too young to worry, the way Jesus, Buddha, Baba, and all the rest said to be and to do: “Don’t worry, be happy.”

Go on dancing; the music is all there is.

Of course, the cooler you are when anything difficult comes up, or anything exciting, troubling, but especially sad — you will not be sad — there is nothing large enough to be sad about at the beach in the summer.

At SOS, it’s okay to be afraid that time is slipping away and not to care, to be carefree as often as possible.  It’s all right to feel at home in wrinkled skin.  It’s all right to stand crookedly, in a body you don’t recognize, with your hands shaking, and ask a pretty woman to dance, knowing she will.

Everybody at SOS is glad to be alive, so high on the feeling, everyone at the party is a brother; all the girls are sisters and baby dolls, and we are all in love with the music.