Dancing Eastwards

Why are we so ‘uptight’ in the West?

Our indifference to live music settings as well as the frequency of empty or sparsely populated dance floors frustrates and perplexes me.

Me and some dance classmates found ourselves at the Persian Basement. Picture the scene. Three suitably elegant women, toasting one another over a glass of red, clapping, cheering and shimmying with the bellydancer. We couldn’t stop smiling at everything around us. All of our senses were required to take in the diversity and the energy and feeling in the room. It was a feast in more ways than one. We couldn’t help but exchange looks of amazed enlightenment. As soon as the music started EVERYONE (and I mean everyone, regardless of age, gender, size, shape, ethnicity, religion etc) got up and danced and kept dancing. They were letting go and having a good time.

Am I alone in my confusion as to why one has to drag (sometimes literally) people onto the dance floor in ‘Western’ settings? Please tell me I’m not alone. Rather, just tell me the truth and why our society is like this? Is it a remnant of British Colonialism? Or have we lost touch with our bodies and have forgotten how to let go? Not even occasions where it is deemed ‘appropriate’ to dance seems to change this.

The ‘typical’ Western wedding reception is a case in point. The kids dance first. They have no fear (bless ’em). Everyone watches on smiling, encouraging and commenting on how adorable and brave they are. They live vicariously through them and remember what it was like to be young and free. Inevitably one of these kids drags a reluctant adult relative into the mix who either dances awkwardly with them or uses it as a great cover to bust the moves they have been suppressing.  Then there are the young girls, teenagers or twenty-somethings recognisable by their circular formation and singing the lyrics at the top of their voice (and yes I speak from experience). Then there are the couples who embrace the corniness of the situation and pay homage to every couple dancing scene in every rom-com. Thank goodness for pre-choreographed songs like the Nutbush, the Macarena, and the one that goes “5, 6, 7, 8!” otherwise why bother even having a DJ? It seems that our priorities are on the very internal activities of eating and drinking instead of dancing and really communicating with each other.

You don’t have to wait for someone else to take the plunge and put themselves out there before you do what you want. Provided it is appropriate to do so, give yourself permission instead of waiting for someone else to give it to you. Otherwise it may not arrive.

Dance is one of the best forms of therapy available. In recent years I found Egyptian bellydance. To me it is equally as important as anti-depressants and weekly psychological therapy. Dance has helped me grow in ways that nothing else can. It is an ongoing process but I continue to experience the benefits of letting go and getting out of my head.

I love how multicultural contemporary Australian society is. But we could embrace  it so much more. Lifelong learning is a way of mind but it in this case it extends to the body. Try it and see how you feel.

Happy World Bellydance Day!

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