Thursday, January 13, 2011

Why I dance. Why this is a battle worth fighting.

I swing dance (East coast/lindy hop) at least twice a week. I do this in spite of access issues that have been getting progressively more frustrating (and more hostile to deal with). It's possibly going to turn into a big legal & publicity shitstorm because being nice hasn't worked, being direct hasn't worked, and being mean hasn't worked.

So why do I bother?

Dance is good for me, that's why.

I have made friends. Not only that, but I've gotten better at making friends. I've gotten better at talking to people I don't really know. Approaching them is easier with the practice I've gotten over the past year.

Dancing is a peer recognized skill. If you can dance, that's something in common with a whole bunch of other people. If you're good, then there's something about you that people think is pretty cool, even if you never look them in the eye. I'm a quick learner-I'd not say I'm good, but I'm competent. I'd be lying if I said it doesn't feel good when people are surprised that I've been dancing for less time than they thought.

Dance is exercise. It uses up a lot of the energy I used to burn with gymnastics. It's not like going & lifting weights-it's the kind of workout that sneaks up on a person. Dance is so fun that I don't realize I'm pushing some of my physical capabilities until my calves start hurting the next day.

Dancing is a conversation without words. I'm not so great at reading people's body language. I'm not so good at reading between the lines when they talk. Following is sort of practice at reading people's intentions, but without the social traps waiting. If I can't read your body language, I could say or do something that's the opposite of acceptable. If I mis-follow a lead, whatever, it happens. It's practice, though, for at least seeing other people's cues. I still don't recognize facial expressions, or what people's changes in posture and such mean, but I've been noticing them a lot more.

Dance is freeing. It doesn't matter what I cannot do, it does not matter that I am fundamentally different in wiring, it doesn't matter that I perceive the world so differently from every one else. It's made up of movement and music. The language of dance is one that I can speak relatively instinctively, unlike so many other languages that people use. It's so liberating to be on a level playing field in at least one area of my life.

Not like I should have to defend what I do for fun, not like I should have to enumerate the benefits-"I like it" should be enough-but there it is. That's why this battle is worth fighting. Maybe I can dance with the next person who fights this battle, too, and we can be unstoppable.

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