For those of us men who dance, dancing can addict us with things we never knew we were searching for.
*A minstrel was a medieval European bard who performed songs whose lyrics told stories of distant places or of existing or imaginary historical events. Although minstrels created their own tales, often they would memorize and embellish the works of others. The Modern Minstrel observes the world around him and shares it with us as lyrical story. This series was inspired by Luke Davis, whose eye for story and ear for lyrical prose are featured here.
Authors Note:I asked for input from men, I wanted a more general feel to this article, but we men are a recalcitrant bunch at times so this is from my own perspective combined with some input from a fellow dancer.
What do I want from a dance, it’s not an easy question as a guy, it doesn’t sit forefront in my mind and neither do the descriptions I would use involve words that normally leave my mouth. Think about this I did though and what I want is thus, from least to most. Perfection found in creation, the freedom found in release, connection bound through touch and most importantly, intimacy released through expression. There are other things I want such as friendships, conversations and social interaction but they don’t require a dance and they have in their own rhythm anyway. So the plot of what I want is set and I should guide you through this dance.
There is a drive inside me to perform, to create something on the floor and perfect it over time. It’s my repertoire, the moves that I have learnt; it is the very signature of who I am on the floor. The dance floor is a Lego mat and my moves the bricks. Each dance requires I pull them out and build something unique. I’m still new, still learning so my bricks are big and square, and while I yet want to build castles on the floor, square houses is where I am. This seeking of perfection in the dance that I create scarcely requires a partner but a partner I must include. I think solo dancers understand this oh so well, this is more important to a solo dancer than it is to me, but it is there, this seeking of perfection. I think all dancers have this, especially when new, we see so many castles on the floor, from dancers with decades of experience, how could we resist this wanting to emulate such perfection.
There comes a time at the end of beginner’s hell, a time where your first dance has no time at all. A place where music, feet and mind all meet, a place of meter, beat and rhymes. It happens so rarely at first, but more frequently as you improve, as time and place merge where your presence is focused to a point and utter freedom is released. It’s hard to describe what it feels like when you no longer hear the music but your whole body feels the beat, you can’t fall out of sync, the music controls your feet. My mind when this happens, it’s gloriously blank, moves and movement happen and I have no idea where they come from, and for three beautiful minutes there is just me and the person in my arms. I have no idea how to replicate this and it still surprises me when it happens, but every night I head out to dance I hope find this freedom, this release, just one more time.
There is a language in touch, I never knew it was there. I’m faceblind you see and facial expressions are not my strength. I sometimes wish I could remember the color of my friend’s eyes, but with dancing I can remember the connection in our last touch. You see touch is the language of intent, movement and empathy; a connection based on touch runs deeper than one in words. I can feel my partner’s steps; I know when she is on the wrong foot and steady her when she loses her balance. I can guide my partner in this dance simply through intent and if I listen I can hear my partner’s intent too. But mostly I feel my partner’s mood, I can feel when they are relaxed, happy, tense or bored and for good or bad this connection based on touch tells me I am not alone. We spend so much time trying to connect with other people and with dancing that connection, at least for a time, comes true. I wish I had found dancing earlier in life, there is a healing in connection, in hearing it through touch, such a small thing touch but so large when it’s not there.
With every regular partner with which I dance there is an intimacy that we reach. It goes beyond mere connection and goes into a world where a bond is formed. We share a measure of trust, understanding and familiarity. It’s not a relationship bond, but a dancing bond, where over time both my partner and I feel free to express that which we hold dear about dancing to the other. Each partner offers something special, something unique, and with each my dance is different but I can not always say how. Some I will dance closer and slower while some require speed and thrill. Each partner is dear to me as they offer something individual, a part of themselves which they only show to those they trust. It’s an emotional connection, a closeness developed over time. The physical closeness in dancing is considered intimate, but it is nothing compared to the closeness between minds. To all my regular partners I thank you, you make dancing special, and you make it shine.
So that is what I want when I dance, not much to ask for in a mere three minute song. I only seek perfection, freedom, connection and intimacy, no it’s not a lot to ask for, not at all. I can admit I am addicted to dancing, I understand how that works, for these things that I want are very special things. I can’t say all men want these things, I know some are players and some are after even simpler things, but these are the things I search for, the things that make dancing worthwhile.
Also by Luke Davis
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