When I was about 14 in the mid 80s, there was a disco every Tuesday evening (Tuesday!) in St Luke’s Church Hall. There would be a DJ, a
in retrospect, slightly spotty, excessively hair-gelled youth devastatingly gorgeous adonis there up on a little platform, two turntables in front of him, surrounded by records, who thanks to the amount of power he had, was literally (we’ve gone way beyond metaphor now) God…
It wasn’t until I’d been to about five of these discos that I realised that the people next to the DJ’s platform weren’t just chatting to him. Oh no. They were asking for songs to be played. They were actually making requests and then they would get to have their favourite song booming out and the whole room dancing to it.
It was a revelation. It changed my Tuesday evenings even more profoundly than that slow dance to Careless Whisper with the boy from Radyr High School…
I was thinking about this recently (the realisation not the boy) in relation to the clients that come to see me wanting something different in their lives. It struck me that there are parallels with the disco and the understanding we have about who we are and what we are capable of.
We are in the disco. Sometimes a song comes on that we like and we dance away to it. Sometimes we don’t like the song playing and we sit it out. If two or more songs come on in a row that we don’t like we start getting fed up. If the whole evening has been largely filled with songs we don’t like we put the entire thing down as a total waste of time.
Great time? Terrible time? There is nothing we can do about it. It’s all in the hands of the DJ.
The Request Maker
Then one day we realise that other people are making requests and so can we! We queue up by the side of the platform and wait for the DJ to deign to move his right head phone a fraction of a centimetre. When he does, we shout as loudly as we can ‘Thriller!’ or ‘Blue Monday’ or ‘Tainted Love’. He shrugs and turns away. Then at some time during the evening the song comes on! We scream and run into the middle of the room as fast as we can in our floor length neon tube skirts and moon walk like there is no tomorrow.
We realise we can request what we want and it helps to know what we want. Saying, “I think the singer is the one with the eyeliner and highlights wearing the leather dress and the song has a synthesiser in it” wouldn’t even narrow down the gender in the 80s, let alone the song. It’s the same with requesting anything, the clearer and more specific we are the far more likely we are to get it.
But the problem with requests is it looks as though whether we get it or not depends on the will and decisions of someone else. It definitely seems to depend on availability and supply and timing, on what other people have requested and whether we are interesting/attractive/loud enough to persuade the DJ.
Later on, we realise that we are the DJ himself. We realise that not only do we not have to be the recipient of someone else’s choices, we do not even have to wait for a request to be granted. Because we have an entire box of records and can play them whenever we want. We can rifle through all the classics, put them on the turntable and bask in all the familiar associations, memories and feelings.
We can steer the evening or our life through the choices we make of the records we own. These are limited of course but that’s OK. There is enough variety there to keep us entertained. It’s just that sometimes… sometimes… we get the feeling that our record collection isn’t quite enough…
The Record Producer
Then we start thinking about creating something new and we realise that our personal power goes way beyond the ability to simply chose between the creations of other people. We have our own source of inspiration that we can use in a way that is unique to us. We can create our own great music or writing or relationships or businesses or whatever we are inspired to create.
The more we create space for it, the more open we are to new thoughts. The creations of other people inspire us. We don’t compare ourselves to them as we used to do. We can appreciate more deeply the music of others because we have our own music to write and play and put out in the world.
Then it occurs to us, it is not just music we are creating…
We are the creator of the entire thing – the disco, the kids dancing, the DJ, the records, the music, the atmosphere, the vibrations in the floor. It’s all us.
As we see the power of thought to create every single thing in our lives we realise at the same time the all-ness and nothing-ness of thought. The whole thing is ours to create, maintain or destroy.
This is a huge realisation. The enormity of this power strikes us and at the same time we realise the impermanence of what we are creating. We look for something that has the same power and magnificence but that is more permanent, more trustworthy…
Then everything is quiet. We are dancing.
This time to a music that we have never heard before. The music that is flowing through us is so unique, so beautiful that we cannot do anything but listen, make space for it and move to it. Our movements cast shadows on the walls. The shadows come alive before our eyes.
We are raised up and carried by the ebb and flow of the notes that only we can interpret and express. And through us, through the way we move and sway, the rest of the world can hear the music too.
We are the dancer.