Memories and Mixtapes: Summer Love & The Art of Bedroom Dancing

Sam Beam’s voice makes my heart swell. It had been quite awhile since I’d listened to Iron & Wine, and as the soothing soulful melodies poured out the speakers, I found myself dancing and swaying in the kitchen. These movements progressed to the entire house – running up the stairs to dance on the top landing, and back downstairs to swing open the back porch door (it’s still not cold enough to prevent me from dancing outside).

I’ve never been one to enjoy exercise and have always preferred to curl up with a book or movie, engage in long-winded conversations over a couple beers. My biggest example of exercising tended to be walking the 2-3 block radius between home, work, and café, or having out-of-control belly laughs (great ab work?!)

I had almost forgotten about the blissful doesn’t-even-feel-like-actual-exercise high of planned or spontaneous dance parties. In university, we held pirate-themed dorm room dance parties with fancy cocktails, we danced to live music at old bars and to silent music on the street, we held impromptu sing-alongs and dance sessions to 90’s pop tunes in our communal kitchen, we danced in cars on road trips to Toronto to see our favourite bands, I slowed danced with lovers while cooking dinner for two, I held secret solo dance sessions alone in my room, usually including “Eau D’Bedroom Dancing” by Le Tigre in the mix.

Dancing alone in the living room this afternoon brought back these feelings and memories. The music is loud, my dancing is swirling, flailing, semi-graceful and silly – uninhibited freedom. It stirred up dormant energy from my core and spilled out my pores. I laughed and laughed and my fingertips sparked electric.

A partner of mine once disclosed to me that he knew he was depressed when he altogether stopped listening to music. Months ago, my speakers had been silent. It’s subtle. Lately, I’ve barely been able to shut them off. These days, I’m reviving the lost art of making mixes for friends.

Music carries such a deep healing power. It’s cathartic. 

As I listened to old albums and mixes, it sparked gorgeous memories of lazy & crazy summers spent with friends in parks, living rooms, tiny bedrooms, and cottage docks.

I remember friends playing Neko Case songs on guitar on the sun-splashed dock as we all crooned and swooned along to the “Fox Confessor” record.

I remember that summer I became obsessed with The Cure and we snuck into better seats to see them at a Toronto festival. I sang along to “Friday I’m in Love”, as I soaked in your black hair and diamond cut ice blue eyes.

I remember my best friend and I spent weeks making a multi-disc compilation of all our hilariously favourite 90’s dance-hits which we blasted through open car windows down the main streets and winding country roads. We danced like crazy at the cottage, the moon peaking in through the windows as we jumped and laughed til my stomach hurt and the sweat ran down our faces.

I remember not so long ago when we listened to Leonard Cohen albums in our kitchen, and I swayed and sauntered across the floor in my bare feet, most likely doing a not-so-graceful personal style of interpretive dance. Leonard’s deep soulful voice reverberated off the walls with our voices layered over top, and I was more in love than I’d ever been.

I remember there were so many nights when we all walked through the streets at 3am, arms linked and bellies full of pizza, beer, and love, singing Regina Spektor songs. 

These were all summers of adventure, discovery and wonder. These were summers of freedom and expression and love. These were summers of both passion and boredom. 

I remember you made me mix tapes with secret messages (remember those used to take hours and hours to make, meticulously selecting each song that expressed how you felt and what you wanted to say). We all used to chill to Ben Folds Five and rock out to Joel Plaskett songs during that summer of unspoken crushes and unrequited love, secret stolen kisses in backrooms, late night drives around the neighbourhood when everyone else was asleep, chain smoking and bottomless cups of coffee at the 24hr Denny’s, spilling out our hopes and dreams and favourite albums to each other and the other few caffeinated insomniacs in the room. Now you’re making your own albums. Now I still haven’t taught myself to successfully play an instrument.

I am flooded with that summer when we spent our long, hot days on long walks and river swims, and spontaneous bike adventures, and pitching tents just off the trail to watch Wednesday night fireworks over the water, and getting stoned in hot cars, and drinking wine from overfilled glasses on the quiet street, and playing and dancing with sparklers, and setting off fireworks over the river, and playing guitar and endless Mario World videogames, and crass-worded inside jokes scrawled across Dairy Queen ice cream cakes, and laying down in the middle of empty graveled cottage roads to stargaze at the biggest clearest sky I’ve ever witnessed and feeling completely infinite.

The word ‘Nostalgia’ has its origins in the Greek words ‘nostos’ which means ‘a return’, and ‘algos’ which means ‘suffering or sorrow’. We can never really return or get back what we’ve lost, what we’ve left behind, but it’s still a beautiful feeling.

And these days glow that much brighter because of them.

What music connects you to your memories? 
What feelings and images do you remember? 
What relationship do you have with music?

Keep dancing and rocking out,

Love Sharon xoxo.

16 thoughts on “Memories and Mixtapes: Summer Love & The Art of Bedroom Dancing

    • allthesoftplaces says:

      Aw, you were most definitely part of some pretty life-defining times, iris! I’m so happy we got to share in some pretty epic experiences! Remember when we used to dance at the moho every wednesday night to the Silverhearts? We used to all throw our arms around each other and sway and belt out “love is like a hurricane!” Can’t wait to hang out, knit, drink tea, and listen to music again xo.

  1. Another 12 Novels in 12 Months says:

    I have an afternoon of writing and making onion soup ahead of me. I was going to put in a movie but I think I’m going to go through my computer and rediscover some albums I haven’t listen to in ages.

    Thanks for the amazing post; as usual it makes me smile.

  2. Ash says:

    Some of us listen to music simply as background music, to the rest of us, it is an active act of listening. I find it impossible to work on my computer with my itunes on, but I spend time making a different list for each walk I take… and new mixed cd’s for the drives I take alone, complete with the dates and where I am going….

    As I grow older it’s the cd’s I make for one specific day that move me the most. Like your being transported back into time. Back to the way you were feeling the very day it was made, when it was 5 defining songs you just couldn’t get enough of in that exact moment.

    And so I leave you with this…. everything I do, always be my baby, the sign, baby baby, and linger….

    ps. none of these are carefully selected to express my secret feelings of love…. just my open feelings of love and memories!

    • allthesoftplaces says:

      Ash, I absolutely lovelovelove your response! It made me SMILE MY FACE OFF! (and laugh my face off thinking about all those old songs we used to love. I remember I learned how to play ‘everything I do’ on piano/keyboard, for my one and only recital.)

      I have a gazillion amazing memories of you. I swear you were one of the first people who really sparked my love of music in the first place. You were always so ridiculously and naturally talented at playing guitar, even in 4th grade. I remember you used to listen to songs on the radio, and then automatically be able to figure out how to play them yourself…did we listen to green day and nirvana in 4th grade, or was that later on? Your music still totally rocks these days.

      I miss listening to music and rollerskating around in my old basement with you, haha.

  3. C.B. Wentworth says:

    Whenever I hear Mozart I think of my grandma’s house (although Herb Albert and Tijuana Brass does the same thing), but when I hear Matchbox 20’s “Push” I am instantly pulled back into my freshman year of college. I remember driving 20 miles every day in horrific traffic to get to class. That song was on almost every day and I sang along as a way to wake up!

    • allthesoftplaces says:

      Great memories. Thanks so much for sharing C.B! I love how certain songs define certain moments in our lives. Instant time travel! So powerful. Hope your week was filled with music and moment-making xo.

  4. poetrycurator says:

    Beautiful post! Great music! I enjoyed your selections. I have so many favorite songs that correspond with different times in my life, both good and bad. Music has a special place in my life too. I love The Rose by Bette Midler and Cher and the list goes on.

    • allthesoftplaces says:

      Sweet, thanks for listening and for sharing yours!! They all make me smile so hard. I love how defining music is. I love how one song can sometimes make you both laugh and cry in the span of 5 minutes. Happy Friday! 🙂


Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s