Friday, May 08, 2009

dance like nobody's watching

Those of you who know me know that I don't really like to dance. I never have, except for a brief and mostly forgotten period in my childhood where I belonged to the Sunshine Generation; it seems wholly inexplicable now, given my current personality, but I was the star of the show with that shit. I was a freaking soloist, and I danced my ass off in front of hundreds of onlookers, usually wearing hideous clothing. (People I date, who are usually the only people I get around to resurrecting that memory for, always seem horribly amused by this story.)
But since then, there have a been a few memorable nights (mostly involving large quantities of alcohol and elaborate outfits, which for some reason helps) where I found the interior confidence and lack of moment-to-moment self-criticism that is necessary to dance joyfully with other people, but mostly I don't enjoy it. It makes me feel awkward, self-conscious, uncomfortable, and ultimately bad about myself, left out of whatever group of happy dancing people I happen to be surrounded by. It can be a profoundly isolating experience, and so I generally avoid it. The problem is that I sincerely wish that I enjoyed dancing. I have many times stated aloud a wish to learn how to enjoy dancing, and every so often I actually go out and try it again but the results are almost always the same: me, backed into a corner, staring in fascination at the abandon of those around me and feeling like I'm from a completely different planet where stiff joints are the order of the day.
One of the nice things about living alone is that here, at least, I can dance. I can put on Amanda Palmer's Guitar Hero and shake my ass, fists pumping. I cock my hip. I sing along. Sometimes, I even clap my hands. I imagine I look like a complete idiot, but I don't care because nobody really is watching. It's not something I do terribly often, but when I do I enjoy the shit out of it.
The point of this is once again something about maybe getting older and wiser, or at least more in touch with what I actually want. Last night FKA, a monthly queer dance party, took place at the gay bar down the block from my apartment. (Which I have also only been to twice since I moved in what, ten months ago? I need more queer goings-out.) Most of my genderqueer friends were going (and probably sundry other people I've met over the years, which could actually be a bad thing), it was close by, I didn't have anything going on... But I stayed home. I'm trying not to do things just because I think I should enjoy them when I know that I probably won't. Instead, I read Dorothy Allison, wrote in my journal, listened to music, and went to bed early. And this morning, I feel better than I have all week. Maybe next month I'll be feeling up to giving FKA another shot, but for this month I made the right choice.


Madeleine said...

Ooo, I hate and love dancing in the same way, perhaps. I don't get dancing in most settings, because most settings are ones in which I can't dig the music (oh, I feel silly saying that - "dig the music" - but it's true! and there's no better word for it). So I'll stand around and watch and feel awkward. But to me, it makes sense to move to something like latin jazz (cheesy? - maybe) instead of some ridiculous band on a sticky floor in a club (ew).

I also like partner dancing and random folk dancing (especially when it involves holding hands and dancing in a circle!). Come dance with me this summer! I'm totally going to go the Chicago Summer Dance Festival every free night I have. Lame and incomplete info from their website below (probably won't be updated for another few weeks, I bet) -

SummerDance will return June 11, 2009.

Next summer the Spirit of Music Garden in Grant Park will become a unique outdoor urban dance space – the largest of its kind in the United States. Locals and visitors dance to the sounds of top notch bands playing everything from swing, salsa and afrobeat to reggae, funk and klezmer, all on one huge dance floor.

Chicago SummerDance is an eleven-week festival featuring one-hour dance lessons by professional instructors, followed by two hours of live music and dancing on a 4,600 square foot open-air dance floor in the Spirit of Music Garden in Grant Park, 601 S. Michigan Ave. SummerDance events will occur every Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening, weather-permitting. Admission is free and open to the public.

The 13th annual Chicago SummerDance 2009 kicks off Thursday, June 11 and ends Sunday, August 23.

Feet Animal said...

You've explained exactly how I feel when it comes to dancing. A friend of mine always tells me to go to FKA with her, though I doubt it will ever happen.

If it does, until then I will probably just continue solo dancing in empty apartments.

ammie said...

Madeleine: Maybe you'll convince me to try dancing with you :) I'm still not entirely convinced it's not possible for me.
Sarah: At least we both enjoy apartment dancing. That is totally something. But maybe someday we'll both be at FKA having a blast. I like to keep my options for the future open.

Alicia Dabney said...

Oh my god! I was in Sunshine Generation which I am sure was a horror to experience considering that I'm, oh, TONE DEAF.

On the other hand, I have the dancing thing down. Letting go and dancing in your apartment is good for the soul. Doing it naked is a good thing, too. ;)