When 17-year-old Bobby Freeman wrote and record­ed his 1958 hit song “Do You Want to Dance,” lis­ten­ers every­where answered with a resound­ing “yes!”

The rol­lick­ing tune, released on the now-defunct Josie Records label, sky­rock­et­ed to Nos. 5 and 2 respec­tive­ly on Billboard’s Pop and R&B charts. Over the years, scores of musi­cians have record­ed the song, includ­ing the Mamas and the Papas, the Beach Boys, Bette Midler, even John Lennon and the Ramones. Covers of this endur­ing hit have been released in mul­ti­ple lan­guages and gen­res as recent­ly as last year.

Woman dancing in green fields

I sus­pect that when Freeman penned the song, he had no idea it would become so pop­u­lar — but how could it not? After all, deep down, don’t we all want to dance?

I cer­tain­ly do, nev­er mind that I haven’t had an enthu­si­as­tic part­ner since the sev­enth-grade snow­ball dance (thank you, Brett Cheuvront). Years of mar­riage to a non-dancer have not damp­ened my enthu­si­asm for this very phys­i­cal art form, how­ev­er — quite the con­trary: my husband’s pref­er­ence for lying on the couch with eyes closed and head­phones on means more floor space for me.

While the goings-on at Rock the Block and oth­er tra­di­tion­al dance venues are what gen­er­al­ly come to mind when we think of danc­ing, these events fea­ture just one man­i­fes­ta­tion of this ver­sa­tile form of self-expres­sion. For me, danc­ing is a much more pri­vate and spon­ta­neous endeav­or: part­ners — even music — are optional.

In my house, any num­ber of inter­nal or exter­nal cues can set off a danc­ing spree, which may well explain my husband’s predilec­tion for close-eyed iner­tia. Fortunately for him, these inci­dents are brief; my sta­mi­na isn’t what it used to be. The usu­al sequence of events goes like this: I feel, think, or hear some­thing that trig­gers an impulse to leap to my feet and express myself kinet­i­cal­ly. Then, I do it. It’s real­ly that sim­ple, and it’s oh-so-much fun.

Being innate­ly ori­ent­ed toward move­ment, I sus­pect that we all have these impuls­es, but often dis­miss them as child­ish or inap­pro­pri­ate. Why do we do that?

Jumping for joy, danc­ing a jig, or gen­tly rock­ing away our blues isn’t kid stuff — it’s a form of self-care. From birth to death, we are nat­u­ral­ly rhyth­mic beings with per­cus­sive hearts and chests that rise and fall with every breath. So what’s dri­ving these self-sab­o­tag­ing inhi­bi­tions that make us sit on our hands and wait for such a nat­ur­al, healthy urge to pass?

Have we for­got­ten how to dance?

Growing up in the 1960s and ‘70s, I was very for­tu­nate to have been dis­patched ear­ly on to Winchester’s pre­mier doyennes of dance: the regal Olivia Bogard and her ele­gant pro­tégé “Miss Fara” Fox (now Fara Tyree).

With the patience of Job and the ener­gy of Bob Fosse, these two lithe ladies taught me the word­less lan­guage of dance. Thanks to them, I shuf­fle-ball-changed, pranced, and plied my way through puber­ty, sequins sparkling and fringe flying.

Tap, jazz, and bal­let moves require no ver­bal­iza­tions, but you have to feel some­thing to dance. The pre­scribed steps, like words in a dic­tio­nary, are yours to infuse with what­ev­er emo­tion and ener­gy you choose. (If you’ve ever attend­ed a children’s dance recital, you’ve wit­nessed this idio­syn­crasy en masse.)

What caus­es some of us to out­grow danc­ing while oth­ers glee­ful­ly hoof their way into old age?

My guess is that danc­ing, like so many oth­er cre­ative endeav­ors, isn’t par­tic­u­lar­ly encour­aged past a cer­tain age — unless, of course, some­one tells us we’re good at it. What a shame this is, because danc­ing is intrin­si­cal­ly reward­ing, no mat­ter what it looks like to oth­ers. (Case in point: Elaine’s ecsta­t­ic, quirky dance in the “The Little Kicks” episode of Seinfeld.)

As Valentine’s Day approach­es, I hope you’ll cel­e­brate with a heart­felt dance. Whether you’re a life­long dancer or it’s been a while, try let­ting your­self go and see where your body leads you. I’ve even got some music to help you get start­ed. Of all the ren­di­tions of “Do You Want to Dance,” my hands-down favorite is Bette Midler’s sul­try slow jam from her 1972 debut album, The Divine Miss M.

Just click on the link below, close your eyes, and sur­ren­der. I hope you find it moving.

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    Adra Fisher grew up in Winchester, moved away in her ear­ly 20s and returned a quar­ter of a cen­tu­ry lat­er. She enjoys all types of art and encour­ag­ing oth­ers to live creatively.