Let’s Talk About Dancing.

I arrived in Miami on Friday to spend a few days here. This is partially the reason I’ve been so crashed. I never do exceptionally well when I travel, and this time was no exception. But it’s nice to be sick in a beautiful place. I mean if you’re gonna be a human waste-land, might as well be a human waste-land on a beautiful beach. My brother and sister-in-law had a baby shower this Saturday (she’s due in March)and we decided to make a Gelpi Power Hour weekend out of it. I am staying at a hotel on South Beach and I dreamt all night of heavy base techno music. Wait, that was not a dream. I was actually up all night listening to heavy base techno music ricocheting off the walls. At around 2 am I kid you not, Club Mango played that song “What is love? Baby don’thurt me…” and it was like a real-life Night at the Roxbury!

Mm hmm.

Truthfully it wasn’t the music keeping me up, though it didn’t help. My legs were on fire, cramped up and emitting heat like they do. So I read more of my book as the base and noise of drunk people bounced around below. At first I was agitated but then I grew to like the sounds. It added to the authenticity of my Miami stay. It reminded me of what the noise of being alive is like. Also they played a lot of Rihanna so, you know. That was cool.

Every now and then they’d play a song I liked and out of the corner of my eye I’d find my foot tapping to the beat of the song without knowing I was doing it. The interesting part of it was that as I noticed this, I started reading a chapter in Marc Nepo’s book called Questions Put to the Sick: When was the last time you danced? I think this is what Carl Jung would refer to as Synchronicity. But that’s another story.

Allow me to say some things about dancing. 1. I love to do it. 2. I’m kind of terrible at it. 3. I don’t care. 4. OK I kind of care. 5. After a few beers I don’t care anymore. And I’ve been told my skills have improved. Anyway, I love dancing. I actually crave dancing. If there is a span of time where I don’t dance, I get the dancing itch, and the only cure is to rock out somewhere with loud music and move my body in any deformed way it feels that communicates physically the fun I’m having in my brain. It can be alone in my car, or at a bar, in the shower, or a wedding. Ooooh weddings. Those are the best. I think that’s why Dane Cook’s standup about girls saying “I just need to dance,” rings so hilariously true to so many people. Sometimes I’ll feel ansy and I know it’s because I need to just dance it out. I swear I’ll wake up the next morning after dancing and feel better, as though it was a bug I had to get out of my system. I’d argue it’s just as important as your dentist appointment or annual colonoscopy. You just have to do it. You’ll feel better once you do.

I may or may not have been compared to Elaine in the past.

Or you’ll feel worse. Wah Wah. (Debbie Downer tone) Being sick and constantly walking a fine line between functioning and non-functioning, there’s always the possibility of over-doing it and paying a price. Like last year in March, I danced the Dougie way too hard one night and I was crashed the next day. All because of the Dougie. But I need to say this:  it was worth it. Sometimes you pay a price, and sometimes it’s worth your while. “What happened to Mary?” “She Dougie’d too hard last night.” “Poor thing. I’ll make us some sandwiches.”

Here’s what Nepo writes about dancing:

The ongoing effort to dance, to give gesture to what we feel and experience, is ultimately healing because, as riverbeds are continually shaped by the water that moves through them, living beings are continually shaped by the feelings and experiences that move through them. If there is no water moving through, the riverbed dries up and crumbles. Likewise, if there is no feeling moving through the body, the being at the center of that body will crumble.

More often though, there is too much to give gesture to, and we fail to move these feelings through our bodies. In truth, much of our inner sickness comes from the buildup and pressure of all that is kept in. The ongoing act of releasing that inner buildup is what spiritual practices call embodiment.  …Once unblocked, giving gesture to our inwardness not only frees us from becoming pressurized, but the gestures, once allowed out, teach us how to dance further into our own lives.”

Pretty cool right? I know some people think it’s just psycho-babel and the idea of someone shaking their ass in the club to Lil Wayne and calling it spiritual embodiment is just a joke. Understandable. But pay attention to the music you hear and the subconscious urge you feel to move. It’s not a calculated choice we make. Even babies and toddlers begin to dance (sometimes better than me) when music is played for them. Sometimes, we should be still, but sometimes we should MOVE BABY. And don’t let your thoughts get the best of you. Don’t try to analyze it or over think it. The best kind of dancing is unrestrained, uninhibited, belting at the top of your lungs-holding a pretend microphone-singing to a pretend audience, unrepressed, uncontrolled dancing. It doesn’t matter if you’re bad. If you’re having that much fun, you’re far from bad. You’re the best!

So the next time you’re out, or in, and you feel the hunger, satisfy it. It is actually good for you, for your body and your soul. If someone asks you why you’re dancing alone in the kitchen, tell them you’re moving your life experiences through your body so you can dance further into your existence. They’ll like that. Here’s one last anecdote about dancing. After my step-dad died in 2006 the house was oddly empty and the family was pretty down. My mom told me later she would turn on Ellen in the afternoons and dance along with her, by herself in the living room. Sometimes it was the only thing she achieved that day. But guess what? It made a difference. It changed the energy of the room. It changed her energy–Made her smile, even for 30 seconds. And in times like that, you’ll grab hold of anything to get you past the moment of pain. So I love that part of Ellen’s job is to get up every day and dance, and to get other people to dance along with her. I love that my mom got up and did it, even when she felt devastated and lost. These are small, small things that in the end can shape large parts of our lives. I haven’t danced in a while, so maybe I’ll give the Dougie another go tomorrow and just cut myself off a little earlier. For now, my legs are cramped and I’ll do some research on fatigue-friendly dance. Perhaps I’ll head down to the nursing home and see if there are any classes there. They’ll be more on my pace. Maybe I’ll even meet somebody special.

Health, Happiness, and DANCE!

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17 thoughts on “Let’s Talk About Dancing.

  1. This is why I dance, you stated it perfectly. I bellydance. You should look into it. It is very low impact and does well with my fibromyalgia. I can’t do classes because most of the time the instructor likes to drill the same movement over and over again. I have to move my movements around my body(Now that I’ve learned the movements I free form to the music and don’t really “drill”). If you get some DVDs you can learn at your own pace.And Bellydancers are some of the most accepting people I’ve every met. Plus you get to dress up in fun clothes.

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  2. Movement is so important, it is actually how we live…I believe anyone can dance and your right, you just have to be “in it”. I went out dancing the other week for the first time in years, I’m a newly single mum to two young kids, one of which has Autism (amoungst other unusual health issues) and it just reminded how FUN it can be, to just get your groove on and not worry if anyone else is there. I studied perfomance and we did a ton of movement/dance subjects (clearly in another life) I recommend Feldenkais if your looking for low impact, low energy movement, it does amazing things for releasing tension and improving alignment. Wow, I didn’t think I had that kind of info still in my post baby-making, sleep-deprived brain, but there you go. Me and the kids dance our way around the kitchen too…somedays its the only way to get through the entire day, if you put on some music, tap your feet, or do a full “ballet” recital like my 3 year old daughter, who can only think whilst dancing, it’s all good. Loved the post, may be on my way to the kitchen for a boogie now…

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  3. Aahh – dancing for the Soul! What a fantastic post and reminder to feel the beat and move yer feet. Other little fun things: skipping to the kitchen / bathroom / what have you, random 5 second disco moves, air guitar solo’s…oh, and investing in a karaoke machine or dancing WII game. Feed that body a mouthful of music ya’ll!!!! Thanks for the wise advice girl…xo

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  4. This is a fantastic post and may have just convinced me to start dancing again. The Winter weather here in the “Pacific Northwest” (I live in Canada, about a five hour drive from Seattle, so it’s essentially the same ecosystem). I’ve been feeling pretty low even with the little baby kicking in my belly. I’m quite certain sometimes she is dancing, having a party in there. So between her and you I may just be convinced to dance again. I crave it just like you. Thank you!

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  5. “What is love , baby dont hurt me .. no more ..
    The first 4 stanzas that ran through my lips to the first women out there on the dance floor when taste of bombaza(Jack Daniels with Patron Silver ,shakken not stirred) flows down to my tummy..accompanied by notes of Mombasa from inception playing on my mind.On the high notes the tune gets mixed up with the groove of the DJ..Had a dance marathon .. every Saturday night from the day after X’mas and lasted till the first Saturday of 2012.
    You let yourself free and its all 10 million fire flies fly away from your body untill you are too tired and you witness the flight of the last fire fly slowly , flapping its wings with the neon light off its tail mixing up with the light up with the iluminated disco balls which is tryinig to wink at you from far distance trying to find itself some space off the artificial smoke brigades..alarming that its 2.a.m and the lady by your side wisper to your ears ..’… i give you my number and you dont care……’ and all I would say is ‘Be happy for the moment…’ – [Score for the last few lines are 2/23 :) Just being honest , the rest didnt even have a heart to ask :( ] . Let the one with kool moves rock on the dance floor with his hands around your wasit not later but sooner.I cannot play rihanna for you, but i can play “Time of my Life ..”.. Let the music begin :D .
    with love “~The single brown guy “

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  6. I dance by myself when no one is around. It’s how I pull myself out of the crushing depression I experience during winter in Alaska. What always does it for me? Gold Digger. You can’t not dance to Kanye.

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  7. I know exactly what you’re talking about. I find myself walking that fine line of functioning and not. I love to dance and was a dancer when I was younger. It makes me feel alive and even sometimes healthy when I know that I’m not. I can’t help myself. Sometimes I overdo it. I’ll take a chance while playing Just Dance 3 with my daughter because spending time with her is worth the two days in bed afterward. My husband gets frustrated because he hates to see me suffer any more than I already do. I find it sad that I have to think about my schedule before dancing to a song a love. Do I have any important appointments tomorrow? or will killing myself for a 4 minutes dance fest be worth it?

    *sigh*

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  8. You rock my world young wise one! I discovered your blog as the year turned and I absolutely think you are amazing. I discovered the power of dance a few years ago with my teacher and truly believe it has saved me. Lyme Disease is my thang and the little spirochetes and I have learned to dance together, most days. Every Wednesday night I gather with the women to dance the dance and then every Sunday morning is dance party in the kitchen, usually by my lonesome with the husband making an occasional appearance to bust a move. The ability to shake away the world and let the inner movement rattle loose is indeed a spiritual practice. Thank you so much for your words — you radiate love and wisdom on this crazy little ride we call life.

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  9. in the privacy of our own home (since I saw myself on a video at a good friends wedding) all four of us get down and groove! My poor inhibited husband and my daughter who I can now see has inherited my ‘style’ – I call it Contemporary Movement because that’s what I learnt to do at Drama School. The 2 year old son bops along with us like it’s normal – we feel GREAT afterwards. We call it ‘Breaking It Down’ – ‘coz’ we’re savvy that way!

    Your post has validated our lunacy – thank you!
    Hope you get to shake your booty and not have it hurt too much afterwards!

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