Thursday, May 20, 2010

Dancing

I grew up in a religious tradition that threatened us with the fires of Hades if we went dancing. Dancing was a shocking sin, every bit as bad as sex (I know… there’s a lot of craziness in that statement).

As an adult, I encourage people to go dancing when they can. But the truth is I cannot dance myself. I am physically uncoordinated for one thing, and I’m way too self conscious for another. And maybe I’m still a little repressed from my religious upbringing.

Which is frustrating because in my soul, I think I am a dancer. In my heart I move in celebration with music. But I don’t because I don’t want to be laughed at or judged in any way.

The other day I was at an anniversary party where there was dancing. My friend is overweight, has an artificial hip and a bum knee, but he took his bride to the dance floor for a turn. They looked good—she in her dress and he in his tux. She always looks good. But he was the one I watched.

While the music played, he wasn’t half crippled. He was a dancer sharing a graceful moment with the woman he loves. They weren’t having sex but they were making love as they held each other and moved to the music.

Then a young woman took to the floor during a faster number. Her dance was exuberant and sexy and sometimes goofy. She came up to me, grabbed my hands and got me to stand up, but that was all I did before I demurred.

I would have liked to have danced that day.

I’ve tried to learn. I once paid money I couldn’t afford for ballroom dancing lessons because my wife wanted us to learn. The poor woman who taught me will probably never recover from all the times I tromped on her toes with my boots. And I still can’t dance.

It seems to me that religion and spirituality should set us free to do things like dance. Spirituality really has a close connection to sensuousness and celebration. To squash that part of ourselves can shut us completely down.

Of course, in some cases, dancing could lead to sex and perhaps that’s wonderful instead of terrible.

7 comments:

  1. Honestly, I don't generally dance with much abandon without having a couple of drinks first, that whole self-consciousness part.

    Reminds me of a time my fiance and I were caught ballroom dancing under the bleachers after a singles meeting at a church conference. We were quickly removed from our seclusion. And we didn't even kiss 'till the wedding day!

    "It seems to me that religion and spirituality should set us free to do things like dance. Spirituality really has a close connection to sensuousness and celebration."

    Kind of brings back a bad memory of being rebuked by a friend while at our old church for not dancing during worship, because I wasn't submitting to the pastors who had "exhortated" us to do so that day. That said, I agree with you, it should be related. Just obviously not forced (not that I thought you meant it that way for a moment).

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  2. CG--I'm pretty sure I grew up in the same religious tradition you did. The first time I ever went to a dance, and was patiently taught how to two-step by the most gorgeous woman there, I thought: Who is the stupid, dirty-minded pervert who ever came up with the notion that this is a sin?

    Shame, and shame again, on the fascist ecclesiastics who have deprived so many people of this glistening gift of God.

    --JagWar

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  3. ATTR, is there no end to the egomaniac stupidity of some ministers? Maybe I oughta try a couple of drinks before I dance-but then again, my emotions careen about somewhat without any help at all.

    JagWar, you said it, buddy.

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  4. Was just thinking last night that I've never seen Footloose. Maybe I should. ;-)

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  5. "religion and spirituality should set us free to do things like dance. Spirituality really has a close connection to sensuousness and celebration"

    So many of the Eastern mystic traditions would tell us, and certainly every Tantric master. I think in the end, great minds think alike...and true spiritualists will speak the same language. How could God not want us to celebrate being the humans He created? ~K

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  6. Mike, I liked it at the time. I wonder it it's a little dated by now.

    K--interesting observation about the Easter mystic traditions

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  7. Well, I meant Eastern, of course.

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