Monday, October 31, 2011

Blues Dancing

I love to blues dance.
What is blues dance? Here are two examples.*

I first learned to blues dance to Ain't No Sunshine while working at a summer camp out in Minnesota. (Here's a pretty good version by Tracy Chapman and Buddy Guy. Just the constant beat. I love a constant beat.) Then followed a five-year hiatus.

My college years were mainly a mix of salsa, swing, and Israeli dance, but last winter, on a date, I caught the bug again. Almost every Thursday night from then until graduation found me in Union Square, dancing, happy.

Blues dancing is not swing dancing. Many people (including me) come to blues dance from swing. I draw a comparison to tennis players who start playing badminton. You have moves that work, but they aren't quite the same. (Use your wrist, not your arm!) Professor Flitwick would play badminton. He would be darn good, if he tried.

I love a good lead. A good lead directs you enough with slight changes in posture and position that you think you are a superb dancer yourself. "Oh, look at me, I just spun around three times, and he was only holding my hand with three fingers. Aren't I just great!"

Blues dancing is social. It is attraction. It is no commitment. It is motion. It is whimsical, exhibitionist, crazy, funky, smooth, exploratory. It is freedom. It is learning your own body. It is learning another body. It is movement. It is feeling. It is the music. It is the music. It is freedom tied to a beat. A strong beat, and always you go up on the beat, up, up. But down in between, settling to sway from knees and hips.

Blues dancing is falling in love with five people in an hour, never seeing them again, and being fine with that.

I generally show up alone, selfishly, relationship and friendship ties implicit but not inhibiting, unburdened by the obligation to dance with one person in particular, not needing to teach anyone, just bringing myself and a smile and ten-fifteen bucks and some socks that get very dirty.

Baltimore brought the occasional Tuesday of happiness, and I found my New York crowd about a month ago.

Someone came to blues dancing on Saturday night dressed as a zebra. Complete with mask. She was fuller-bodied and it was awesome to watch her rock it.

Her first dance of the night was with a dapper thin old man wearing a suit and a hat. He dances extremely well and also validates you by saying "Aw yeah!" every once in a while in an appreciative fashion.

There was someone else who looked like a boyfriend of mine from high school. It wasn't him, though. He was powerful and fast and kept swinging me around (I think it was West Coast) to the point where I was afraid of what would happen if I lost grip of his hands. He was dressed like someone from the mountains, I think. We were both in flannel, but my hair was in pigtail braids. He told me he appreciated my energy.

It is good that I smile during blues dancing. Not that I am making any claims to my smile's brilliance or wry crookedness or anything like that. In fact, even though I chipped my tooth once on a fork while eating Caesar salad in a dining hall, the chip is small enough to escape being endearing. But a smile represents enjoyment, so no matter how good or bad I am at dancing, hopefully I make people feel happy when they are dancing with me.

And it is true that I am just cheerful when I dance! What a wonderful time it is!

Although I probably will not start saying "Aw yeah!". I'll leave that to the old thin suited men.

*For the second video: Admire her hip movements! But keep more tension in your arms.

1 comment:

MEM said...

"Aw yeah!" man is named Ice, and tonight he more often said "All/Aw Right!"