When I was in my early 20’s I was a gogo dancer in a few bars around Sydney. As I’m about to hit 40 I’ve found myself reliving my youth, breaking out my gogo boots again for a couple of parties recently.
It may look like I’m just ageing disgracefully (which was always my plan anyway), but there are a few surprising life lessons to be learned from the heights of the gogo podium. These life lessons are as valuable on the dancefloor as they are from the breakfast table to the boardroom.
1. It’s always about the audience
This is a lesson I actually learned some time ago, and it’s reinforced from the podium. Sure you’re the one up on stage, but you’re shaking it for the entertainment of others..to help them have fun, live it up and dance the night away.
Much like life on the podium, the best way to live is to make others smile, pay it forward, surprise and delight and help where you can. From a cheeky wink, a thank you, a simple hello or 5 minutes of your time; to encouragement, sharing your last tim tam, or just being the friend who’s always there to tie the laces of your hitops when they come undone ( because no-one wants to trip and fall face first into the pavement, or the dancefloor, especially alone); giving to others, and making an experience about them, is pretty easy, and valuable, to do.
The moment you think it’s all about you, you’re done.
2. Be flexible and adaptable – and think on your feet
One minute you’re bouncing to a funky house beat, then the DJ unexpectedly slows it down for mellow mix into the next track… leaving you to switch moves with a second’s notice, or be left dancing to the wrong beat. #awks
Like the music, life is constantly changing. We can’t always control it, and while you can sometimes hear the key change coming, we don’t usually get a warning; Whether it’s a change to our foundations, to ourselves, to the world, or just dealing with different people, we have to adapt. It’s not always easy so the trick is to just keep dancing, and do your best until you’re back on the beat.
By embracing change, you’re ensuring you don’t get left behind, and may even learn a new trick or two along the way.
3. Jump high, but watch your step.. and plan ahead
Sometimes your moves are bigger than your podium, and that’s ok… other times you might not see the edge as you shimmy to the left, so it’s easy to lose your footing or even tumble off. Staying on your feet is as simple as staying a step ahead.
In life we should think bigger, take risks and shimmy left when we’d normally shake it to the right. Being bold works best when backed by a plan though, even if it’s only a vague one. You can make the steps up as you go, just as long as you know where your feet are going to land.
And if you do take a tumble, just get back up, pretend it was part of the plan, take a lesson from the trip, and adjust your next steps.
4. Hydrate & rest often
Shaking it up for a few shows a night is a cardio workout that brings new meaning to HIITing the dance floor. Sweating and tiring are part of job, so two essentials to bouncing through the night are water, and rest breaks.
We should drink about 2 litres of water a day, but you probably don’t; and our diaries are so full that resting and relaxing are luxuries. Swap your soft drink for water, it’s a much better choice, and make some time in your week to really relax, before you burn out.
No tech, no work, no place to be – just check in to your happy place for a genuine time out.
I recently tried a float tank for the first time, it’s a wonderous, and quick, way to relax and recharge.
5. Enjoy the bounce and have fun!
Most of all, while you’re up on the podium breaking out the moves, have fun and show it off, because you want everyone else to do the same. Whether you’re feeling the beats that night or not you’re there, so it’s as simple getting the gogo boots moving and living it up.
Some days are filled with the things you love, others are a bit more of a struggle. Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, you have to two choices – negativity or positivity. One makes for harder work, and drains your energy (and everyone else’s), the other can make even the toughest days easier; and allows us to find small joys in unexpected places.
Of course we should embrace every emotion equally, being positive is about your perspective, self awareness, how you manage them and how you treat others. Happiness is infectious, never be afraid to spread it.
Daniel Goleman’s Emotional Intelligence is a great book to flex your EQ muscle.
So Gogo Dancing might not be your average way to earn a dollar, but that’s not really why i’m in it. It’s a great workout, a whole lot of fun and surprisingly insightful. I’m keeping my boots handy, i think i’ll need them again soon.