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Wiggle those hips

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Last Saturday (after shul, of course) Bruce & I walked into the early afternoon practice session at Arthur Murray and spotted Joy & Dan. We’ve been dancing on and off for 4 years; they took the plunge recently.  A couple days later, Dan wrote a challenging (in a good way) message to me on this very blog. Here’s my (long-winded?) answer. He’s in bold & I’m in italics.

It was interesting to see someone with “truth” stenciled on her arm perform so well in an endeavor in which truth is irrelevant. Or is it? Irrelevant? Nope. Totally relevant. Dancing is the truth-filled reaction to music, the natural desire to move to the beat. (Check out a 3-year-old when there’s music: they know what to do.) In those moments when I stop thinking and just dance… there’s nothing more genuine, more me than that.

And BTW, thanks for the compliment. Grooving to the music comes easily, but learning how to dance with someone, learning the steps and how to tell a different dance-story for cha-cha than tango or foxtrot… now that takes some practice!

Perhaps the biggest obstacle to good dancing is self consciousness: essentially a fear of others seeing us as we really are, seeing our ineptitude. Yes, yes, and yes. We are afraid of making mistakes, afraid to really let loose, afraid period. I get frustrated on occasion (ask Bruce), and embarrassed over how I must look, but the truth is that no one is born knowing ballroom dance. All of us look particularly clumsy in the beginning and from time to time after that. We’re beginners – that’s who we really are. When I saw you and Joy in the studio, I did not roll my eyes. I was excited for you. Dancing is quite the journey.

A commitment to truth, as unfortunate as that truth may be, frees us to excel. Here’s the truth: you love your wife and want to have fun with her. That’s what you should excel at. The rest is a bonus.

On the other hand, isn’t dancing a type of physical hypocrisy; a euphemistic representation of our sexuality? Euphemistic? Nope. Two people are moving their bodies in close proximity. Sometimes very close. Dancing is about sex and romance and freedom and joy and a whole bunch of other things. I dig it: this opportunity to be flirty and physical just for the heck of it… nothing wrong with that! Listen to Sway by the Pussycat Dolls and tell me that doesn’t put a smile on your face.

Maybe it’s both at the same time, but for both Joy and I it’s more a matter of truth. I think we’re both overcoming what amount to social fears. The truth is that the harshest critic of your dancing will be you. Forget about the rest of us – what do we know?

For me though, I see others wiggling their hips in blatantly suggestive ways and I think “I’ll never do that in public!” What do you think? I think that some day you will wiggle your hips in public and not even think about it because you won’t be able to help yourself.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Bruce Solomon permalink
    02/26/2010 10:20 am

    Dancing *does* push me past the amount of affection/sexuality I comfortably express in public. I struggle with that. But every culture seems to have a *major* struggle with how to keep the sexual impulse from bursting out of control in public. Dancing between the sexes is *completely* forbidden in Hasidic–and traditional Muslim–societies. Hell, women can’t even show their hair or even faces in some of the them.

    I find myself facing those issues in real time—with palpable fear and confusion—when dancing, especially with women I’m not married to. How close is OK? How much hip movement? But come on; the *true* danger level is minimal, which means the problem is mostly in my own psyche, which means I have work to do. And what better way to do it than to step up to the dance and deal?

  2. sue swartz permalink*
    02/28/2010 5:11 pm

    Get close and move your hips honey. As long as you come home with me, I’m happy.

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