Confession: The first time I remember singing my heart out and dancing to a David Bowie song, it wasn’t Starman, or John, I’m Only Dancing, or even Modern Love. It was Magic Dance.
See, I was born a little too late to appreciate Bowie until he came into my life as Jareth the Goblin King in Jim Henson’s Labyrinth when I was 8 years old. I loved that movie with every part of my being. I would go through the HBO guide and figure out when it would be on so I could watch it every time. We recorded it onto a VHS so I could watch it when it wasn’t on. I wanted to be Sarah so badly. I wanted to go ballroom dancing in a fancy dress with man with crazy hair and tights. But as many times as my 8 year old self would say the words, the right words, Jareth never came. Thankfully, Bowie did. Not long after the start of my Labyrinth obsession I remember seeing the video for the Dancing in the Street duet with Mick Jagger and thinking, “that’s Jareth? He’s an actual person who sings actual songs without puppets? Sign me up!”
Thus followed decades of Bowie. Laying on the floor of my room in junior high listening to Ziggy Stardust. Imagining the sad beautiful story of Major Tom. Duetting with friends on Under Pressure (I liked to be Freddie). Driving around the orange groves with my cousin singing Young Americans and All the Young Dudes at the top of our lungs. Seeing him blow my mind at Universal Amphitheater during my first year of college. Possibly the best $48 my broke 19 year old self ever spent.
It all came full circle on my 30th birthday, when I watched Labyrinth in the backyard with my friends and our kids, and introduced my 5 year old daughter to the magic. Like me, she was smitten immediately, and watching her dress up in her sparkliest twirliest dress and dance and sing in the living room with Jareth, Sarah, and all those crazy puppets in the years that followed was pretty much the best thing ever. She’s 12 now, and too cool to dance in the living room with me anymore, but we did watch Labyrinth last night. After I took the liberty of dancing by myself in the living room for a while and singing my heart out to my favorite Bowie songs.
So I guess I have Jim Henson and Jareth (and my parents and HBO) to thank for being the jumping off point for all those years filled with amazing music and otherwordly spacey fantastical characters. Not to mention for the major life lesson that has stuck with me since the first time I saw that man appear in Sarah’s house wearing make up and tights (and presumably a weenie enhancer of some sort), that the only right way to be a human is to be who you are without worrying about what the world thinks of you. This life is made more crazy and fun and beautiful by people who don’t conform, who do the unexpected, and create magic for everyone to enjoy. Go out and be weird everybody.