Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Venn Diagram of Latin Dance and Writing



Dance. Click on the link for Fruko y sue Tesos "El Preso" and, if you can stay still, you might be me, when I was younger. When I was younger, I didn't dance. I didn't think I needed to. Ahh, foolish youth. As an adult, I think dance is one of the best responses to the crushing awareness of our own mortality.

Seriously.

I came to Latin dance in my early 30s. Ryles Jazz Club, Thursday nights, Cambridge, MA's Noche Latina. It goes without saying I was terrible. Whitegirl, overbite, cintura of concrete.

However, (and this is unusual for me) I didn't care what people thought; I was in love with the dance floor. I took lessons and became marginally better, my swivel took on a Bill Cosbyish turn that was an improvement

I took a tango class with an Argentinian teacher, my uptight Episcopalian Northern European body in some sort of tropical animistic swoon. I practiced salsa turns in front of my bedroom mirror in Somerville with my 2 inch rhinestone salsa heels on.  Where had this feeling been all my life? All the meditation I had ever tried never came close to this, living in the moment.

Dance is the antithesis of writing for me. It might, in fact, be the antithesis of me. Writing is all above the neck, all noggin, analytical, internal, and, to some extent, like searching for dry sticks, the kindling for a fire. You hope you can make a blaze with it. You are a Boy Scout on a Winter Wilderness Mission. You are trying very hard not to die of exposure.

Dance on the other hand is not about hoarding and gathering, preparation and survival.  If anything it's about letting go.  Trusting. If you have a heartbeat you have rhythm.