While dancing Friday night at the La Marshall milonga I was besieged by happiness. It was a full frontal assault armed with boiling elixirs. They surprised me, disarmed me and over-powered me mid-dance. I gave up without a fight.
This sequence of events is common to me and, I think, most dancers. You see it in their faces; you feel it in their bodies when you dance with them. Supreme, unadulterated happiness is why we’re out there on the dance floor, isn’t it? For me, dancing is that fount of pure pleasure I have been chasing all my life.
Don’t dismiss me as a nutcase yet. I am not some neophyte who just discovered tango. (We’ve all gone through that early stage where there is nothing but tango. I call it “tango on the brain,” a sometimes fatal illness.) But I have been at this for 20 years now and my certainty about dancing’s transformative powers is greater than ever. These days, I’m just more judicious about whom I victimize: since you’re on my mailing list, I figure you’re fair game!
Like all true believers, I do go overboard. I think everyone should love what I love. I often prescribe it as the cure for a whole host of ills. If you want to lose weight, sleep better, improve your digestion (or your sex life), avoid painkillers, stop seeing your shrink – I invariably prescribe dancing.
On a personal level, the pleasure I once chased from a distance has now taken up residence fully and completely in my body. It feels like something I can never un-know again. I can’t imagine my life without dancing; it has over-run my soul.
Making music and dancing is what human beings do. I am sure someone more erudite than me has studied and can explain why this is so – why human beings dance when they’re happy (and why dancing makes them happy). There is no doubt some physiological explanation. I just know it to be true.
In the modern world we do not sing and dance enough. We have lost touch with ourselves. Today, it seems, there is no room for amateur dancers or musicians. It is as if the whole world is telling us that you must make the jump from amateur to pro – or you have no right to play or to dance.
This is like saying that from now on only professionals can breathe. Or eat. Or sleep. Just as we would die if we didn’t breathe and eat and sleep, we will die if we don’t make music and dance. It may be a slow and imperceptible death, but it is not a lesser death.
So, do yourself a favor: get out there and move!