Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Dance Dance Revolution

I went dancing the other night!

Over the past couple of years, I've had some measure of success in overcoming a lot of the psychological and sociological remnants of my previous life, including many of those related to male/female interactions, but being able to freely dance in a mixed crowd was something I hadn't been able to muster up the courage to do. The one time I did do it, I was very uncomfortable with myself the entire time, and have avoided it ever since. There's a variety of issues playing out in my head that's holding me back, but for some time I've been making efforts to overcome them, and so last week when I found myself near an establishment that hosts a bi-weekly dance night, I decided to step in and see what it was like. I had heard about it from a number of friends who had encouraged me to try it out, and knew it wasn't anything I'd find objectionable (no bump-and-grind, inappropriate provocative stuff, etc.), but I still had been pushing it off for a while. Now that I was right there, I figured I'd just step in briefly, take a look around, feel the atmosphere, enjoy a little music, and leave. But as I was sitting there on the side, watching everyone just let themselves go so freely, I decided that I had to at least try it a little bit. So I did, feeling awkward and uncomfortable, sure that everyone was watching me make a fool of myself. Maybe they were, maybe not, I don't know, but after a while, I felt myself gradually escaping the constricting limitations of my mind that were preventing me from enjoying myself. I don't really know how to dance, and I probably looked kind of silly to anyone that really cared to notice, but everyone there was just so free about it all, moving in any which way they pleased, that I found myself getting caught up in it all, just letting my body express what the music was doing to my heart.

So I danced and danced and danced. For three hours. It felt good. And it felt good to finally be able to be there, past that point that was holding me back.

Most of the crowd was fairly young, mid to late 20's, and there was a fair number of kipa's (which I realized later might not accurately reflect the actual demographic, as I eventually stuffed mine in my pocket after it kept flying off), but there was one girl there that was distinctly different from the rest of the group. She was dressed in a way that suggested she was probably quite a bit more religious than the rest of the crowd (or rather, that she typically associated with a more religious society), both by the style she wore and the fact that she had a long skirt and sleeves that extended past her elbows. She didn't seem to be there with anyone. But most noticeable was the fact that as she moved, her demeanor was not like the rest of the dancers. She was stiff, not as uninhibited as the regulars, and somewhat self-conscious, glancing around at the others around her every so often. I had never seen this girl before in my life, and had very little to base it on, but I was willing to bet anything that what was going in that girl's head was an exact reflection of what was occurring that very same moment in mine. I so wanted to go over to her and just tell her, "I know exactly how you feel. So let's dance together!" I didn't do that, figuring it probably would have done way more harm than good. Thankfully, just like I managed to do, she eventually seemed to loosen up and let herself go appropriately. I couldn't help wondering how the night's experience affected her, and if it was as significant a breakthrough for her as it was for me.

There was one other amazing thing that happened that night. At one point in the dancing, I noticed a guy in a wheelchair wheel himself into the room, and as he got closer I was able to see that he was missing both his legs. Such a thing is a heartbreaking sight to see, and I felt it stir in me that rare emotion of appreciation people sometimes feel for the good health they may be fortunate to have. But he seemed to know a number of people there, and was in good spirits, so it wasn't putting too much of a damper on my mood. The guy then rolled his wheelchair to the periphery of the dance area, and all of a sudden just started swinging his arms and head around in every direction, wildly, uncontrollably! And for a second I thought to myself, "What the hell is wrong with that guy?", until a moment later, it dawned on me: He was dancing! This was the only way he could do it; to let himself go like we were able to; to let himself just be carried away by the music. It was such a moving sight that I had to stop and just let myself take it in for a few minutes. As I watched him flail about with complete and total utter abandon, I felt tears welling up in my eyes. The guy had no legs, and he was dancing his heart out. Unbelievable.

19 comments:

Ben Sorer Moreh said...

Cool Hedyot! You really got the juices flowing when you got to the part about the guy in the wheelchair. Perhaps the girl you saw was this one

The Hedyot said...

I don't think it was her, being that I was a few thousand miles from South Jersey.

DiffAnon said...

Just for reference, you don't need to have religious baggage to be uncomfortable dancing. Just being uncoordinated is enough to give you that exact same reaction, every time you go dancing. Trust me on that one. :)

The Hedyot said...

> you don't need to have religious baggage to be uncomfortable dancing

I know that. Which is why I said, "There's a variety of issues playing out in my head that's holding me back." The religious aspect is only one of them. In fact, I'd almost say that it's the least significant issue of them all.

rebelmo said...

Had similar experience a few years ago, at a work colleagues wedding. Getting up on the dance floor for the first time, is like jumping off the diving board for the first time. Pritzus, definitely, but it is interesting how it is sort of spiritual. You sort of lose yourself to the music, and connect with something else out there.(Not the bimbo next to you)

Mis-nagid said...

Was it this dance? :-)

The Rabbi's Kid said...

alcohol helps, trust me. and you should have gone up to her and chatted to her. that's our job.

Me, Uncensored said...

Another vote for "shoulda talked to her."

And yeah, booze does kind of take the edge off. The only time I could dance (or thought I could, anyway) was back when I was still drinking. Two wine coolers and I thought I was Paula Abdul ... er, Paula Abdul's distant cousin.

Avi said...

What a difficult heading I picked. "Only the truth" Do you realize how difficult it is to dig out the truth from the mountain of lies that the truth is buried underneath. I read the comments on President George Bush. They call him a liar. So what? Bill Clinton was also a liar " I did not have sex with that woman" Does anybody tell the truth anymore. I know a rabbi ( no names mentioned) who does not know what the word truth is. Thats ok, there are plenty of preists who also dont know what truth means. One of the names of God is " Emes" which means truth. That is probably the ultimate truth. That there is a God . The world belongs to someone. The world has an owner.

My Boro Park said...

What about the singles waiting to be married. Peple collect $$$$$$ for hachnasa kala but do nothing for singles

amshinover said...

I had someone check out Heshy's place (964 E 3RD ST) this past shabas. He just reported back to me that its all true. About 70 people per meal, being a most diverse crowd; executives, intellectuals and average working stiffs. Heshy feeds them like in a restaurant ie salmon steak etc. I don't know where he gets the money from, but somehow he spends serious money on his guests. Also, Im told that he lives in a real mansion and that the hummer is there parked right outside. Im tempted to check this out for myself.

Anonymous said...

freakout see
heshys house.blogspot.com

mnuez said...

Jussa y'know. You are Paula Abdul's distant cousin. While I'm not certain what sorta Canadian her mother is, her father's definitely Jewish (Syrian). So thar y'go.

mnuez

AmyS said...

I just found your blog and read the current post. Wonderful! First of all, good for you that you were able to relax and enjoy yourself (for the record, no one knows how to dance!) I'm glad you enjoyed yourself (and selfishly, glad you noticed the others around you and were able to write about them with such sensitivity. Can't wait to read some of your earlier posts.

Soferet said...

BS"D
Play that funky music, white boy...
:)

fsgsf said...

"Nothing bad can EVER come from dancing!" - Hasidic proverb

Peace!
NJ from NJ

Soferet said...

BS"D
'zackly...

mnuez said...

Damn, white hat is dead. Probably the vaad hatznius...

And hey, white hat, maybe you'll write? I mean, how many apikores bloggers have to go down? We need chizuk, man.

The Hedyot said...

Rumors of my demise are greatly exagerated. I just don't have much to write about.