Slow Dancing in the Dark

Words by: Sarah Louise

The sky is jet black, the lights from Melbourne’s buildings are flickering on the horizon and Port Phillip Bay lies still. I know it’s been a warm day; I can smell it in the air. But I never got to witness the sun at its peak because I was at work from 9–5. I’m here now, though.

We drove here in my Kia. We didn’t chat because there was an unspoken agreement that we both needed the cathartic release of his ‘Music For Cars’ Spotify playlist. He curated it so carefully — a representation of his firm stance that “your music taste represents who you are in this world”. Tonight, we are ‘Electric Feel’ by MGMT, ‘The Spins’ by Mac Miller and ‘Take Care’ by Drake and Rihanna.

It’s the perfect night for a skinny-dip. We’ve never done it before, but always saw it as a ‘bucket list’ moment. We strip down, and it feels as liberating as I had always imagined. My anxiety quickly kicks in—as it always does at least for a second — reminding me that my tummy has bloated from the burgers we ate for dinner. I should be worried about someone seeing my bare ass, but society trained me to care more about a little bloat. I mentally shut that down — partially because I’m on a self-confidence journey, but mainly because it’s pitch-black out.

We run into the water giggling and giddy as ever. We feel young, unbound by the outside noise that usually rules us, and disgustingly in love.

He holds me tightly in the water. I thought it would feel like we are the only people in the world, completely enclosed by the sea, and too distant for anyone to touch us. Instead, the water is underwhelmingly shallow — a horribly exposing depth to be standing in naked. It feels awkward; as if someone would walk by with their cavoodle any second. None of that matters though — we’re used to expectations not meeting reality. We’re doing it, we’re making a memory, and it is hilariously us.

When we are out of the water, and somewhat clothed, he reaches out his hand and asks me to dance. He presses play on another one of his play-lists, then drops his phone into the sand like a true takes-technology-for-granted Gen Z. He plays ‘Best Part’ by Daniel Caesar and H.E.R. It feels like our song — and we are blissfully aware that every couple says the same thing.

Holding me around my waist, his hands feel large and sturdy. I can barely see his face, but I’ve looked at him so many times now that I envision it with ease. His eyes are the only feature detectable because the city lights reflect in them. His chest is the perfect height for my head to rest on. We rock from side to side, seamlessly, in the same rhythm.

We’re slow dancing in the dark, and it’s magic.

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