What It’s Really Like to Perform the ‘Naked Hippie Dance of Love’

In this tale from the Moth, America's premier storytelling group, a woman reveals a side of herself you'd never imagine just by looking at her now.

We have partnered with the Moth on storytelling events in 19 cities, with the best stories appearing in a special issue of Reader’s Digest next summer. To learn more, subscribe to the Moth’s critically acclaimed podcast, and to get tickets to a show, visit themoth.org. To win tickets to a show, click here

the moth hippie dance of loveiStock/Iculig

I’m standing on a stage, almost stark naked. They start to laugh. This is not a bad dream; this is real life. It’s 1969, and I am about to do the hippie dance of love in a San Francisco nightclub so the tourists can have that “wild experience” in a safe place with drinks in hand.

I had two toddlers at home and far from a showgirl’s body: short legs, wide hips, wide hair. And my partner, the dance teacher who came up with this gig, looked more like a grumpy botanist than a hippie. But for four glorious weeks, I got paid for what I loved to do: improvising with an ironic twist, hence the laughs.

Now, to look at me, you might not think “naked hippie dance of love.”

These days, I’m a librarian. When you see an old lady with frizzy gray hair, you have no idea what she’s been up to.

I believe this is the manifesto. I believe we are like Russian nesting dolls; everything we’ve done is still inside us. Twist off the top and there it is.

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Neshama Franklin
Neshama Franklin, 77, works in a library in Fairfax, California