Growing up in middle-class white culture, many of my generation didn’t know how to dance.
Dancing was for lovers at weddings.
But not for celebration.
Not for rebellion.
Not for connection.
Not for tradition.
The expressions of humanity were sanctioned under very specific social rules
because the only people that danced outside of these were the poor, the not-white, the undereducated.
Instead, my family consumed the celebrations of other cultures to make up for a loss of our own.
My family looked down on the white kids who danced in clubs as deviants, hippies, radicals, and troublemakers.
My family only approved of ballerinas and other entertainers, all the while judging how perfectly they executed their moves.
So when I found my community, I danced in the clubs to celebrate myself. To celebrate knowing a bit more about who I was. To celebrate my body. To celebrate my love. To celebrate my life in the face of fear.
And I began to understand that my consumption of dance from other cultures was a ghost of my humanity.
I learned to dance as a private celebration, to not care if anyone else was watching. I learned to sing to feel the resonance of my soul.
But I never danced to celebrate connection.
Today, it is hard for my body to dance. A night on the dance floor without more breaks than dances guarantees two days in bed. So I sing as much as I can, just to stay connected to the pulse of life.
But sometimes I dance when I need to break out of this prison of flesh… just to connect to my own humanity for a moment despite the pain.
Because dancing in the face of strife is the purest expression of the human spirit.