Summer party time – yay! The assembled teens and volunteers of Body & Spirit are dressed in their best and here to impress…
The top floor of Body & Soul HQ is steamy warm and decorated, with lovely red hearts and silver streamers.
A large white stage has been made for the centre of the room that says ‘Unseen Heroes’ – we are recognising some special individuals as part of the evening’s celebrations.
A ‘Personal Strength’ award is given to a teen who has shown ‘so much courage in the face of so many challenges this past year and still comes into Teen Spirit every week with a smile on her face.’
A ‘Teen Spirit Peer Support’ award – is given to one teen: ‘a born motivator, a natural listener, who shows so much love to everything he touches.’
Next, the ‘Rising Star’ award for someone who ‘arrived here alone and shy, who has grown in confidence and now offers so much to Teen Spirit. This person is smiling, living, shining, every day.’
A teen member of the board, giving the award, asks her to ‘come up here, and hug me gently’
It’s all a bit emotional… but a welcome musical interlude breaks the spell. One of our amazing TS musical maestros performs a self-penned track. The energy is picking up now – it seems you can’t stick too many Teen Spirit members in a room for long and expect them to stay still!
Luckily, our mate, the man, DJ Tim Westwood is back in the house! He’s a Teen Spirit patron and comes in twice each year, every year, to play for Teen Spirit… often with a well-known special guest in tow too… Who might it be this year?!
No one is worried for now anyway – Tim Westwood knows all about whipping crowds up and wastes no time tonight!
It’s a bit gentle at first, with boys and girls at opposing sides of the room, the dancing fairly stilted..
I’m nervous too – it’s my first time dancing in a room full of relative strangers, I’ve never heard the music before and I’m a wee bit stiff in my skin..
However, I know about dancing and tonight I want to dance with Teen Spirit. I have moments of doubt when I’m dancing and thinking I must look silly, but the best thing happens – a voice comes through in my head saying: ‘It doesn’t matter! It’s not about you! You’re all just the same and you’re all just dancing. That’s it.’
Some of the other volunteers make knowing smiles at me or join me for a minute on the dance floor. My hips are loosening now and I’m right in the flow! My face is red, my hair is flying and I couldn’t care less. I make smiling faces with the girls and ask the guys who this rapper is – JMA –he’s amazing! I have a lovely moment when our teen musical maestro asks if I get the music, even though I’ve never heard it before ‘Yeah! I say – what do you reckon?!’ and he high-fives me and I feel like the happiest girl alive.
By now, groups of girls are whooping in delight as they outdo each other’s dance moves. Groups of lads run rings round each other, throwing shapes, shouting lyrics to songs they know like their own names.
I flush – self-consciousness again. And then comes that lovely cooling, fresh-air reminder again: ‘It doesn’t matter. You’re all the same. Enjoy the dance.’
As Westwood delivers his final shout-outs, the teens cry out their thanks, and the taxis snake their way to Body & Soul’s door… And I think everybody in the place would agree: dancing freely feels a lot like love.