Dance: The Ultimate Medium for Healing, Joy and Community
I was talking to one of the newer dancers tonight, and it really hit home how much of a community we are. Even if someone is gone for awhile, when they return, we pick up right where we left off. Sure, if they’re gone long enough, they may not be up on any new dances we learned during their absence, but those only account for a small part of the evening, and that leaves time to chat and catch up.
Another thing occurred to me on the way home. For the most part, we’re a pretty accepting bunch. As long as a person follows the unwritten rules of the dance floor (and frankly, most of those are just good, common sense and respect for other people and their property) the rest of us are happy to help and encourage and welcome them into our happy little circle. But it’s a lot more. When we walk through the door, our mindset is on dancing and having a good time; maybe even escaping our troubles for a couple of hours. It doesn’t make our troubles go away (and dancers, as a rule, are not big drinkers) but it gives us a break from them and in a lot of cases, gives us some perspective which makes resolving them less painful.
Share Dance, Share Life
Over the last few years, we have shared the whole gamut of family events: births, marriages, deaths, divorces, children moving away, illness and recovery. We’ve shared life changes, cheering each other on the whole way. No matter what happens, we know there’s always a place we can find a warm hug and an understanding shoulder. Yet, while we’re dancing or waiting for the next line dance, couples dance or two-step partner, we can share without wallowing because we know that each of us has life experiences which allow us to relate.
I believe that the two best things I’ve gained by being a part of the dance community are the pure joy and stress relief dancing offers and the opportunity to both uplift and be uplifted, as the situation requires. As it was so beautifully portrayed in the movie ‘Inside Out’, without sadness, we wouldn’t need to comfort or be comforted and without comfort, we can’t develop compassion, nor can we feel needed.
Whether I’m sharing a warm hug with Cheryl who understands what it’s like to lose a parent in the most tragic of ways or verbally sparring with Ron who is the brother I should have had; ooh-ing and ahhh-ing over grandbaby pictures or commiserating over having kids further away than we’d like, as they go on with their lives as adults; or one of my favorites, joking with Ralph while we do an easy two-step around the floor until I get my feet all mixed up because my mind is more into the silliness of the conversation; it’s all good, it’s all healing and it’s all uplifting.
When my daughters were younger, I used to dance 5 and 6 nights a week in a different location with different friends. Though the joy and uplifting were a mere shadow of what I enjoy now, I used to joke that my ex still had all of his body parts thanks to the dancing. But in all seriousness, dancing has always been my touchstone, second only to my writing, where I can lose myself in pure pleasure and let go of things I might otherwise chew on until they achieve far more importance than they deserve. My mom gave me dance lessons because she thought they’d help my klutziness. I’m still a klutz; still walk into walls, trip over my own feet and drop things incessantly, but the gift she actually gave me was a lifelong love of dance and the people who do it for the love of it. We don’t look for perfection; heaven knows we all mess up the dances pretty regularly; we don’t do it for recognition; there are far better dancers out there who put hours and hours into being perfect and being noticed. We do it because it is the most fun we can have in a public place with dozens of our friends. We do it for our sanity and we do it because moving is always a good thing.
Still more benefits to being a regular dancer
Learning new dances stimulates our brains and has been proven to slow or even stop the development of Alzheimers. Replacing brain cells keeps you younger. I can’t even count the number of times I have heard “That’s impossible” when people find out my chronological age. Sure, part of it is genetics, but I can guarantee that an outsider would guess an age at least 10-15 years lower than that of any of my dance friends. One of the regulars is getting really close to 90, but you’d never know it (and boy, does she have gorgeous legs!).
So if you’re feeling blue or the job is pushing you over the edge or your kids are about to drive you to drink or your parents are getting on your nerves, this is my advice to you: Grab a couple of friends and find a local watering hole with a decent dance floor. If you don’t know the steps, find out when they have lessons. If you do, why are you still sitting around??? I guarantee your stress level will drop and with regular applications, you’ll soon look and feel at least 10 years younger. Tonight I danced for the better part of 4 hours, then came home and scooped litter boxes and cleaned up the kitchen before I sat down. Oops, I guess I forgot to mention how much it boosts your energy too!
My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for the gift my mom gave me at the tender age of 5: the love of dance has gotten me through some of the toughest times in my life.
2. I am grateful for the progress I’ve made this week on several projects, and look forward to diving in again tomorrow.
3. I am grateful for the friends I’ve made in the dance community. They’re a diverse bunch, but some of the most loving, compassionate, giving people I’ve ever been fortunate enough to know.
4. I am grateful for a couple of quiet days at home to complete a few more projects.
5. I am grateful for abundance: dancing, friendship, health, energy, love, joy, compassion, peace, harmony, prosperity and philanthropy.
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