Quick, Before the Music Stops: How Ballroom Dancing Saved My Life by Janet Carlson
“I’ve been dancing steadily since that Valentine’s Day. I have taken countless lessons and classes, passed a professional certification exam, done several shows and a competition—yes, dressed in those outrageous gowns and false eyelashes—and then gone back home to the kids, the soccer, the housework, and to work the next day. It hasn’t been easy to make room in the schedule for my passion, but I have done it, because I’m certain now that it is necessary for life. This new period is rich—as rich in some ways as having my two children because it has been a kind of birth—but it has also been extraordinarily painful thanks to the self-examination that dancing has provoked in me. And so, because of dance, I can say, unequivocally and gratefully, that I am alive at last.”
– From Quick, Before the Music Stops
“There is no time for regret in dance. You have only now, this moment, for your performance, your glorious movement. Whatever you’re going to do, do it now, quick, before the music stops.” – Janet Carlson
In her twenties, Janet Carlson was a successful competitive ballroom dancer, but she abandoned dancing to raise a family and pursue a more conventional profession as an editor for a luxury lifestyle magazine. Twenty years later, she seemed to have it all: two beautiful daughters, a glamorous job, and a handsome, talented husband. Despite all of her successes, she felt a terrible void - her marriage was deeply troubled, and she was somehow withdrawn in the very midst of her own life and the lives of her children. Then, one Valentine’s Day, her husband gave her ballroom dancing lessons as a gift, and everything changed. She discovered the joy, passion, and confidence she hadn’t realized had gone missing for so long.
Over time, Janet discovers that ballroom dancing also contains the secrets to life and love: the give-and-take of dance, two bodies in rhythm and harmony, mirrors the reciprocity of human relationships. Total trust between partners is as vital on the dance floor as it is within a marriage. And yet, both partners - in dance and in life - must stand on their own two feet. The unadulterated joy Janet feels as she intuitively moves to the music speaks to the kind of absolute, whole-body happiness we were born to have. On the dance floor, she finds resolve in the waltz, self-confidence in the tango, and passion in nearly everything. Embracing dance once more allows her to let go of a marriage that was completely out of sync; put more heart and emotion into her work; find more time to truly be with her children; and ultimately rejoice in her intrinsic balance and poise.
Told with precision, grace, and painstaking honesty, Quick, Before the Music Stops is the tale of one woman’s midlife renewal through dance, and how her newfound empowerment transcends the dance floor and becomes immediate and relevant in every aspect of her life. It shows us how to recognize and celebrate both our strengths and our flaws, reignite passion for the everyday, and how to step from the periphery into the light and surrender to the music.