Papier Passions

Dancing on My Own: The Self-Isolation Disco

Turning my living room into a solo boogie wonderland by Papier's Jennie Watson.


Nicola Rew @ Papier


Jennie Watson @ Papier

Forgive me for spinning my own mirror ball (we’re all friends here on The Fold) but I am a born dancer. Papier copywriter by day, dance floor freak by night. Nothing makes me feel more alive or myself than dressing up to D.I.S.C.O. But four weeks ago now, my local haunts locked down their glittering doors and self-isolation became the new norm for us all. It’s left me groovin’ in my living room completely solo – and I couldn't recommend it more.

In what's a dark time, the magic of dance and its euphoria-inducing, thigh-activating powers have really come to light. Perhaps the most beautiful observation I’ve made is this: once the music starts, I am never alone. The party’s all there in my mind and I can invite whoever I damn well please. Friends appear as lyrics whisk me back to nights out, artists I adore step onto my imaginary, light-up floor and – when I close my eyes – the one I long to dance with most swaggers over to spin me by the hand.

Everyone’s welcome at Club de Living Room. Pull out your platforms, put your hands together and follow my steps to join the isolation disco.

Before we get this party started...

Find your indoor dance floor
I have this fear of cracking my head on the kitchen tiles when no one’s home, so I chose my carpeted living area. Remember to clear floor lamps and foot stools. All, I repeat, all obstacles that could result in a stubbed toe.

Whatever you do, wear something cool
Sprucing up to stay in is all part of feeling good in isolation. Tonight I’ll be prancing about in a silky pair of purple, chevron-struck flares.

Dance like nobody’s watching...
...because they aren’t. Loosen your limbs and let yourself go!

Only discotastic playlists allowed
Here’s one I brewed for you earlier.

Jennie’s solo moves for smaller spaces

I’ve tamed my arsenal of disco moves to fit your average London flat-sized living room. Each manoeuvre is strong enough to be performed in its own right, but best served together for a truly disco-lectable display.

This one’s nice and easy. Create a fist with each hand and roll those arms. Roll them above your head, roll them by your left hip. Rolllll ‘em like the wheels on the disco bus go round and round and round.

Bend into a light side lunge and elongate one arm, looking down your pointed disco finger like a love pistol. Guide the index finger across the room till you’re ready to ‘shoot’, all whilst thrusting the hips like you’re keen to slip a spinal disc.

Quarantine is the time to master this. Prepare for lift-off by putting weight on the ball of your dominant foot and use the other to rotate yourself. I like to hold my arms at shoulder height (forming a W-shape) then progress into a hand clasp above my head. Focus on a point on the wall to prevent dizziness – there’s no one to catch your fall at the isolation disco.

I bring this out when I need a breather – an energy-saver that looks spectacular. Gently press a hand on the front of each hip, step forward with your right foot, then the left. Back with the R, back with the L. To garnish: put your hips into it.

I love this – it’s a nod to Latin dance styles which played a part in influencing disco dancing. Lean back, shake your shoulders and shimmy across the entire floor like you’re at Studio 54. Don’t forget to make eye contact with the invisible dance partner of your dreams.

A tiny hand clap comes in very handy at home. Effortless and easy to fit to any beat, I often rely on this miniature move when I don’t know the song well enough to really go for it. Ideal for cramped studio flats or if you get a stitch.

All aboard. This swaying step motion is perfect for petite home dance floors. Take a small side step with your right foot, rock back on the left, step R, rock L. Add lil shuggie boat arms, work the hips, punctuate with finger clicks. Repeat on the other side.

Yes, we could dance together with friends on Zoom but how often do we get to go to the solo disco? Tomorrow’s parties will be waiting and when we return to that overcrowded floor, it’s going to be filled with more love than ever before.