I went to a Christmas afternoon do of the kind my mother used to tell me about – a basket, ballroom dance party…probably one of the best fetes I’ll go to for the Season…courtesy of the Port Antonio amateur ballroom dance group led by a former Arthur Murray instructor. Knock out, drop dead pool terrace venue overlooking the Rio Grande (Jamaica) Valley. All sectors of society present, including the more unusual and happily becoming more usual social cross section.
So let me tell you the value of ballroom dance in changing headspace…one member is female, a tiny, fit, 61 yr old new entrepreneur who has just left a soul killing 22 yr relationship…she now has what the Spanish call and absolute RABIA (route word ‘rabies’ :)) for her newly learned dance skills. Three males are young men from humble beginnings, trained in IT and out of work for now. The little lady decided she’d found a way to keep them out of trouble…AND HOW… To see these boys now is awe inspiring…we still have to work a bit on dress and grooming to acquire the polish of the ballroom but the head space and skill is there! This is a good, solid intermediate group of lads who can look a dance partner squarely in her Tango eye and lead her. They see themselves as male, accomplished and leaders…oh happy day…the key ingredients to the healthy male psyche. Check out the younger men, older women pairing…nothing to it and they call her Auntie, but ‘it don’t look like no Auntie/Nephew business’ when we cut the rug, I can tell you. There is a healthy element of fantasy that translates – switces the headspace into believing you can be and do more, be bigger than you are…and we, tangoed, waltzed, merengued, jived, congaed and socaed!!!
I kind of dropped into the party by accident because of my mile long reputation of having a rabia for dance in general and my experience of it. Weeeellllllll…there stood I on the fringes of the dance floor when one of these lads spotted me and raised the traditional macho ‘come here’ hand beckon. I looked at him out of one eye and asked who he thought he was and admonished him to note that ballroom dance required manners and etiquette…he swept me into the circle and informed me the Tango was a man’s dance…I raised my eyebrows in amused disbelief and warned the lad not to ‘fly past his nest’. It is a rare thing to see Jamaican marginalised males ‘step up’. This little phrase and movie title is really what dance is all about for men. It is a legitimate way to elegantly lead the female sex without threat to her modern ego and absolutely play to her biologically programmed wish to be led by a man. It is ‘safe sex’ allowing not just physical but the more erotic mental interaction many women crave and to which few men pay attention.
The men who vociferously poopoo ballroom dance are the same ones who become intensely jealous of those who want to dance with their women…dance is inherently sexual and we all know it consciously or unconsciously…the more comfortable you are with sexual identity the more easily you ballroom dance. Jamaicans’ history with ballroom dance is an exact metaphor for our sense of self, especially our men…we were avid dance partners till the late 60’s/early 70’s…now that skill has disappeared…we are fractured mentally…and though it used not to be, homosexuality is a new terror to us as well…all part and parcel.
So my advice is, if you want to improve your mental and physical health…find a ballroom dance groups. It:
Is great exercise, re calories and improving coordination (grace, Usain is graceful is he not?!)
Usually ends up getting you to clean up and be nice to be near (grooming)
Is safe sex
Teaches men they can lead by guidance and not force
Creates a safe environment in which women enjoy being led
Gives the brain new learning work
Opens up your social circle, etc., etc.
Don’t just go and jump into any and every group, find a style and group that matches your personality like you would find a friend, doctor, etc., etc. One size never fits all so go watch a few sessions of groups you’re considering joining FOR FUN…
Are they laughing and chatting and getting on together?
Are they happily bumbling through mistakes?
Is everybody equal and treated with respect?
Is it a level you can manager?
Is everybody HAVING FUN?
Don’t make the mistake of taking on sessions in a studio oriented to pros if just plain old fun is your aim…the atmosphere in these venues is RADICALLY different. So get out there and shake a leg…!!! Long live The Dance…! If the world does end, I’ll die happy doing it :)!!!
(Of course that cap would have to come off as we progress :))