The Greatest Love Affair of My Life

My greatest love affair of all time has been with dancing. Men have come and gone, friendships have existed and fallen apart, I have lived in a gazillion different places, but dancing? Dancing has always been with me.

To be sure, our relationship is fluid and ever changing, as any good relationship is. We fall away from each other at times, then come back together, more passionate than ever. The person I am has changed over the years and the kind of dancing that draws me depends on the season and place.

This love affair of mine began with Lindy Hop and East Coast Swing in elementary school. I joined a swing dance team with a couple of friends and we met three times a week for lessons and social dances. My best friend at the time and I would stay inside at recess and dance, dance, dance. We didn’t even need music. We were absolutely fascinated with dance connection and new moves. We could both lead, we could both follow. The rest of the class thought we were weird. (I”m not making this up, they would literally say “you guys are weird”).

But we didn’t care and to this day, these are some of my favorite childhood memories.

A couple of years ago I literally moving to Portland, Oregon for the summer with the intention of dancing every single night. I had heard good things about the scene. I mostly did West Coast Swing at the time but while I was there I was introduced to the Country Dance Scene and was invited out to a country bar on the edge of town. “Bushwackers”. I know, so good.

Despite the name, Bushwackers is an magical place with a large dance floor and a vibrant community of dancers. Portland is lucky because the head of the National Country Dance Association lives there and offers free Country Two-Step lessons every Tuesday night. He is an exceptional teacher and to this day, Bushwackers on a Tuesday night is one of my favorite places in the whole wide world to be.

The beast that is West Coast Swing is absolutely fascinating. It is relatively modern, I think it was born in nightclubs in big cities, and has evolved into the beautiful and challenging dance it is today, complete with big-time dance conventions, competitions, and levels. 

It’s like that hot guy (or girl) that you love to hate and keep going back to. It’s led to some of the best nights of my life as well as to some of the lowest of the lows I have ever felt. It’s hypnotic and additive. It takes months, even years, to be “good” and the beauty is that the better you are, the more fun you will have.

* * *

The thing that attracts me most about a dance is not the style itself, the footwork, technique, or music, it is the PEOPLE and the COMMUNITY. I love people. I really, really love people.

I just got back from a night of swing dancing, it’s past midnight, but I am SO excited about dancing right now that I need to write this before going to sleep. Dancing with someone is like having a CONVERSATION with them. It’s a full body, no words type of communication. Apart from sex, we don’t get to experience this very often in daily life.

What I’m most fascinated with is that everybody dances SO DIFFERENTLY. The way a person communicates through their body and the way they interpret the music varies drastically from person to person. It is impossible to dance the same dance twice. The MAGIC happens when one is fully present, engaged in the moment, with complete attention on their dance partner. You just never know what the dance is going to be like. You don’t know what your CONNECTION will be in until your hands join, your bodies bop to the beat, and your feet begin to move. What happens during the next three minutes is completely up to you.

It’s unlike any other experience, I’m telling ya.

I’m going to Ecstatic Dance tonight for the first time. I’ve been having a LOT of personal dance parties in my living room lately (which is something I think we ALL should be doing on a regular basis) and I’ve been calling dance parties with other people into my life. “I just want to dance!” I keep saying, “I just want to have dance parties with my friends all the time.” Baam! Into my life comes this thing called Ecstatic Dance and a pretty rad group of people who love to go.

I don’t know the people. I don’t know the venue. I don’t even know what part of town it’s in and I have NO idea what to expect, which is pretty much my favorite way to show up to life.

Let the games begin.

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