chapter  1
3 Pages

Karen’s story – Part 1: starting out

… I started dancing when I was 17… how I got into this was, I was living in a flat on my own, and I hardlies [sic] had anything. Not even like the bare, bare essentials like [a] fridge, cooker, carpets, [or] anything like that. My mum had just kicked us out [of] the house. It was nearing to Christmas time, it’s really cold, I’d just got sacked from my job, and I had nobody really. So I started hanging around with different people and then before I knew it I met this girl called Judith. And Judith was like a friend of a friend … I was in a shopping centre and she approached me and she was like: ‘Hi, I was wondering if you’d like to dance. Coz I work for this ‘Stars’ dance agency, 1 and they like need some new people to work for them’. So I took it from there on, and I was like: Yeah I might as well, don’t know what the hell I’m getting myself in for but I might as well try. So I started working for the dance agency … but it got to a point where I thought: Oh my God, this is my life, this is it! So I thought: Right I need to make a choice. I don’t think I was actually strong enough to think: Right, stop doing it, get an education, just get away from it, cut all ties. So I thought: Right I’m gonna stop working for this agency even though it was like supposed to be one of the best around here … So I stopped working for that agency and worked for another one … I guess the main reason was because me and Judith went our separate ways. I just realised after a while that she wasn’t really that intelligent … she’s never actually learned from her mistakes and the reason why I actually stopped hanging around with her was because, she was like you know … She turned out to be this little bitch really … So anyway moved on and anyway worked for this [other] dance agency … didn’t 61like it there so moved to ‘Glitter Girls’ [dance agency]. And yeah, the girls were a bit sleazy but it wasn’t like I was going to be … obviously this is my third [agency] in three years, and I thought: Third and last, if it doesn’t work out here, then that’s it. Then you stop dancing … In the end I only actually worked there for three months and I met my boyfriend … Really got sick of it then. I didn’t even think of dancing. I regained a lot of confidence to be quite honest and got myself on the straight and narrow. Got a job. God! ‘Straight and narrow’, you’d think I was a drug dealer! Or a pimp! Jesus, what am I saying! So got myself on the ‘straight and narrow’ and worked like in a normal job, in a call centre, and I was actually fulfilled working and like making an honest living. Waking up in the morning, it was hard at first; it was quite scary, coz obviously since leaving school I only had like one job, which I kept for like a year. I worked as like a clerical assistant for one year, packed that in and had little silly factory jobs three months here and there, a month off, doing nothing and eventually got into the dancing. But going from that [dancing] to like [call centre] you know, [it] was quite nerve racking but fulfilling … I like stuck in, definitely stuck in, never had any days off, [I] was there for nearly three and half years, I had 0.0 per cent sickness. I really, really liked it … I felt so proud of myself, like so happy and I was like, I would never dance again, never. And then me and my boyfriend finished, like I’d been with him for years. But just before we’d finished I was still working at the call centre and I was like: Look! I’m really, really skint and I’m gonna have to start working at Starlets … But my boyfriend didn’t really want us to do it and he was like devastated, and he was like: ‘No! No! No! You can’t do this!’ I was like the breadwinner, I was like the main one working and he was like doing his degree, and he’d packed his like part-time job in coz I said to him: You pack your part-time job in and I’ll just support you, like I know it doesn’t really matter, I know you would do the same for me. And you just study, you use your time studying … I got in touch with my friend Stella who worked at Starlets, and I was like: Can you put a good word in for me? And I was so nervous, I was like thinking: no I shouldn’t do it, I shouldn’t do it! Went back to dancing anyway after all that time, it felt really strange. In a way I think I’d missed the sort of, dunno what it was? I think most people have, I dunno a bit of an exhibitionist in them … I think in certain ways [when you dance] you are the centre of attention, you are the act, therefore everyone is looking at you, you have absolute control, so therefore it makes you feel good. Well it does … I think if you’ve danced, you feel like, I can do that, yeah, the way I can express myself is through dancing … It’s 62weird, it’s like you can say something about who you are this way … But I guess maybe everyone does it for a different reason … God, I don’t really know what it was …