Khanism

Dance

Drunk Dancing

Atlanta Lindy Exchange 2009
Atlanta Lindy Exchange 2009

“I only dance when I’ve been drinking,” is one of those phrases every social dancer had heard when attempting to encourage a friend to come learn how to dance. It’s not the same as saying, “I don’t dance,” which is a mere acknowledgment that dancing is something one does not enjoy (or thinks they will not enjoy). To qualify the necessity for alcohol often implies that one may like to express oneself through movement, but has difficulty dealing with the self-perceived embarrassment. Such people may fear allowing themselves to feel silly, unless they are under the influence of a substance that can reduce that anxiety. But learning to be silly, together and fully aware, and to move our bodies to music in ways that evoke powerful emotions of love and life, can grant people a freedom to create and enjoy the art form known as dancing.

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Blues

I first saw Blues dancing in its modern form in 2005 at the Windy City Lindy Exchance in Chicago. Lindy Hop, a form of Swing dancing, started to reemerge in the late 1990s, partially due to the GAP advertisements featuring Swing Era dances that aired in 1998. Modern Swing was in the process of rediscovering itself as dance instructors were watching classic movies to rediscover and teach Lindy Hop.

Many DJs found that much of the danceable music from that era was intermixed in their collections with Blues. In the late nights between social dancing and classes, swing dancers were rediscovering Blues music. Unlike Lindy Hop which rediscovered an existing dance that had faded but had not truly died, modern Blues dancing is an amalgamation of both original, non-structured movement with many borrowed steps and stylings from Swing and other Jazz dances.

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Connection

When two people dance together, it’s a lot like the first night of sex between two lovers. It can be delightful and filled with laughter as two people explore the conversations tucked within each others bodies, or it can be like fitting a futon through a doorframe. The type of dance or even the skill and level of the dancers has very little to do with how a dance turns out. A good dance can become a living thing; an exchange of ideas in a tapestry of movement. Like a well crafted composition of instrumental music, it is a conversation without words.

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The Basics

A small group of us would heard to Camp Washington Chili after the Thursday night dances. The six or seven of us, ages ranging from college students to young professionals to retirees, would occupy the table of the diner long into the night and past the hour when it would be reasonable for us to go to sleep. We were dancers, and although the discussion meandered, the topic I spoke of more reverently than any other was that of dance philosophy. The group grew to the point where it was no longer intimate, and those who I enjoyed the company of the most stopped dancing, but the philosophy of dance is a subject that can be carried into almost every aspect of one’s life.

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