Thursday, June 24, 2010
Dancing for my Life
Laser lights strobe round the room, piercing the smoke and pulsing with the beat. I’m alive with it, stomping and twisting like a man possessed, snapping my head back and forth with the music, sweat streaming down my face. I feel bodies pressing in on me on both sides, male bodies, strong and musky. I press myself against them, one arm around a chest, the other round a torso, and feel the heat that rises from them warm me. I’m where I’m meant to be.
As far back as I can remember, I've loved dancing. Some of my earliest memories are dancing with my Mum to "Crocodile Rock" in the living room of our family home in London, and I took years of ballet and tap classes growing up. As a kid some of my friends would call me "Michael Jackson" due to my energetic moves and, indeed, I went through a phase of watching the film "Moonwalker" over and over again.
I'm the sort of person who, when a danceable track comes on the radio, can't resist the rhythm, and starts to twitch and sway with the beat. If it's a really good song, one I like, I've been known to burst into dance wherever I am - in a bar, on the street, on the train, it doesn't matter.
And since I came out my desire to dance has become insatiable. I'm taking weekly classes in hip-hop and popping (I'm terrible, but enthusiastic - the instructor Eric says I have the "hip-hop attitude", which I think most of my friends would find amusing), and try to go out to dance twice a week at least. My natural susceptibility to music has been amped, to the point at which I find it almost impossible not to dance to certain types of music when I hear it. And, as with many other areas of my life, I've become an exhibitionist when it comes to dance - I'm quite happy to get up on a podium, a stage, a table, a speaker - anything to dance for an audience!
Sir Ken Robinson, creativity guru and legendary TED talk performer, reminds us that we all have bodies - yes, even academics - and that education frequently overlooks the body to focus on the head. Aesthetic Philosopher Richard Shusterman bemoans the same tendency in philosophy - the complete absence of the body in most philosophical considerations of the arts (and other fields). They would both be happy to know, I hope, that I have rediscovered my body and, a few times each week, it completely overthrows me...