Jazz Hands and Messed Up Brains

It’s the stuff of legends. Heavily made up cherubs, being preened by even more heavily made up Mothers, sequins, feathers, lycra. Sweaty shoes and jazz hands.

I am now there. Hold me.

Once I’ve sussed out the types of dance Moms on offer, I’ll gladly note them down in a post. For now, everyone seems relatively sane and glitter free. For now…..

Miss DP has her first dance concert on the weekend. And it’s an all hands on deck affair. Rehearsals at the crack of dawn, costume try outs, hair being sorted, bloody skin coloured tights needing to be sourced (truly, a pain in the ass to find).

A bunch of five year olds, whipped into a frenzied excitement, all in a contained space. Dancing to “Let it Go”. I’ll let you sit with that thought…..

Here, I’ll share my wine with you. It’s scary, isn’t it?

In between all the excitement and sweaty feet smell (my god, it’s horrend), the reality can be a bit scary. Stage fright is real.

I remember when I was a wee lass, dancing in the state championships (oh yes. Yes I did. Just call me twinkle toes). My dance routine had been changed at the last minute and I was madly backstage practicing again and again, riiiiiight up until my turn on stage.

I jumped up there, beaming smile (well actually I had no idea how to smile at 6. I kind of just bared my teeth. It was awks) and got myself into position. Sequins were a-glowin’. Taffeta was a-flowin’. The music began. I started dancing, taking steps across the stage… and then?


I’d forgotten the steps. I’d practiced it so much, that when I was up there, I completely blanked out on the new part of the routine. All I can remember is staring out into the crowd, seeing a crowd of hushed faces, all staring up at me. I was doing a lame step-tap from side to side while my brain packed its bags and left the building. You would’ve seen tumbleweeds blowing through my head.

dancing meme napoleon
My spirit animal

Honestly I can’t remember what else happened. My brain froze to that part and then the next thing I know the music stopped, people were pity clapping me, I bared my teeth once more, my chubby little sequined frame skipped off stage and I proceeded to heave tears. Red hot tapper tears streaming down my heavily made-up face. This is the stuff therapy is made of. I still cringe now at the thought of it.

Apparently though it wasn’t as horrendous as I remember. According to my Mum, during the great blank out of ’88 I actually reverted back to an old routine almost seamlessly, and barely a person noticed me falter. What the hell, brain?! What.the.hell. Why would you torture a kid like that? And why did it take my mum like nearly 30 years to tell me that?? She’s in on the stitch up with my brain.

Isn’t the brain amazingly f’ed up?? Here in my memory, I blanked and stood there step-tapping like a dick. Humiliating. Soul crushing. It’s haunted me for years and years. But I’d actually continued on dancing, and finished well. Why would my brain not remember that shit?? I’m now convinced my brain is designed to send me insane. The kids are just the icing on the already messed up cake really.

From the left field dancing
This was totally the size of the audience I blanked out in front of. Not really. But humour me. IT WAS PAINFUL. Image source

So when it comes to our cherubs, that stage fright or mind blanking is real, and can last a loooong time if they let it. Something we think isn’t a big deal, can be a huge deal to them. And with my sensitive little petal, no doubt she’ll hold onto something really minute and it will become a mountain for her.

I’m going to whip up a post on memories and how to help kids deal with particularly shitty ones, but one thing to remember is that we aren’t fully responsible for messing our kids memories up. Their own brains are pretty good at doing that by themselves. Isn’t that a relief?! Finally, one less thing to feel guilty about (which will surely be replaced by a million other things. But still. One less thing!). We can at least support them and help fill in the blanks when they need us to. And then also fill in our own blanks about shitty parenting moments that we beat ourselves up about.

Have you had any particularly horrend memories from childhood that have stuck? How accurate were they from what really happened? Is your brain as messed up as mine? Actually, don’t answer that.


  • I remember once I got called up from an understudy part. I thought this stuff never happens so just fluffed around while I was supposed to be learning the dance. All fun and games until one freaking kangaroo doesn’t show up and I am shoved on stage in an ill-fitting costume! I’m obviously damaged.

    • I have images of you as an ill-fitting kangaroo now ha ha! I think we need to share some wines to help with our damage lady. Key lesson here- never take part in activities that involve oneself getting on stage. x

  • I was always way too uncoordinated to do dancing. I was at least a head taller than all the other girls so never felt like the delicate ballerina I wanted to be. More like a giraffe in leggings… I did one concert in called it quits!

    • Ha ha ha oh I’m sure you were great! I was like a little nugget- definitely not graceful enough for dance! 😛 x

  • Hugzilla

    BAHHAHAHHAHAHHAAHA! *backs away slowly from post* After my run-in with angry dance mums after my guest post on Woogs last year I have decided to refrain forevermore from making any further comment on this subject. Go you – DANCE MOM!

    • Omg you must share this with me! I remember reading it, but I don’t recall a Dance Mom flaming! Shiiiiiit love, were they throwing their pancake foundation and false eyelashes in a glitter frenzy at the computer? I’m considering getting an orangy fake tan and donning some bad liquid eyeliner to fit in more. Think it’ll work? xx

  • I actually did ballet as a kid and have a photo to prove it. I think I looked the part but totes couldn’t dance the part. I love that I’ve saved my mom a few extra grey hairs and mummy guilt – and now you’re a dance mom! Go you!

  • I do a really amazing newborn baby cry. My Sunday school teacher heard it and got me to put on a mic, and cry behind the curtain at the church Christmas play. After I went out the back I told someone I had to pee really bad. I totally forgot my mic was on and got bad anxiety that my whole (stick up their asses) church had heard me. I was mortified. My teacher told me later that no one heard me. Calm down. Whoa.

  • We’ve just had our dance concert. I don’t think there were many tears, thankfully.
    I had a memory of staying at the Binocular Hotel on a family holiday. Years later my dad told me the picture of a binocular was actually a fancy H and it was the homestead hotel instead. I was a little disappointed honestly. :)

    • Oh that’s good to hear there weren’t many tears! I think the tears might be mine by Saturday night ha ha! Ha ha well that is definitely cause to be disappointed- the Binocular Hotel has quite the appeal. :) Amazing how our memories can do that to us, isn’t it? x

  • You poor thing with the brain blank. I never danced as a child and now I am a dance mum (not a Dance Mom)! I will be backstage at our daughter’s concert Saturday – all day Saturday for rehearsals and then the concert that night (she’s had two full Sundays in a row of rehearsals). Sorry to scare you (but you were a dancer so you probably know the drill), but as a 12 year old our daughter is doing 8 dances in the concert, 9 with the finale. She dances 11-12 hours a week and has been accepted into a dance excellence program for high school next year. Ok hold me. (end of proud mum boast). Good luck with your daughter’s first concert – the 5 year olds are so cute.

    • Oh it was truly horrendous. I can still recall the sheer horror at blanking out even now! Oh love, you deserve every gooey treat under the sun once Saturday is done and dusted! It’s funny- as a kid I knew dance ran all day on Saturday (literally from 8am-5pm with only a small break for lunch), but I didn’t even consider the impact on mum! That’s so awesome that your daughter got accepted into a dance excellence program- congrats to her!! And you- what an effort to get her to that place!! Ha ha good luck with it all! xx

  • I have a few memories that stand out. One is at a calisthenics concert when I was seven years old. I have hyperextended elbows, and at the end of the routine I put my arms in the V. My elbows turned inside out. The ENTIRE crowd of people in front of me cringed, and a few people went UURGH. My seven-year-old ego crumpled. I quit. Started playing piano instead, so can’t be too upset. #teamIBOT

  • I loved dancing. I danced with my friend Tara from aged 4 until we were at high school. I gave up dancing for Netball. I still play social netball, my friend Tara dances on cruise ships. We still both remember our first duet together {from when we were 5} to ‘ONE’.