The dance floor allows us a place to process the stuff of life or to escape from it. Listen in on a little mid-day conversation as we mull over our need to dance the blues.
Susanne: Hi darling. Well, this has been quite the week, hasn’t it?
Craig: I think that’s an understatement.
S: I could really do with less drama in my life. Between my car battery dying Monday, the death of our beloved kitty, Solomon, Tuesday, and snow Wednesday…well, let’s just say I’m learning a lot about perspective.
C: Plus, you forgot about the damper pedal on the piano going wonky today.
S: Oh right. Needless to say, I’ve been feeling really blue and I know you have as well.
C: Yes…I miss my black fuzz-bucket.
S: Not to be Capt. Obvious, but loss is hard. When my childhood pets died, I had already moved out and it impacted me less.
C: Yeah, same for me.
S: Last night after that dance demo neither of us were in the mood to do, I got to thinking about dancing as a way to express and process emotions.
C: Yeah, that was certainly not the dance I wanted to be having. It was hard to suck in my sorrow, put on a smile, and be a show.
S: So true. But I did feel a little less glum afterwards. Being active and focusing on something else helped for a bit.
C: I think there’s two ways to go. One where you set aside your life to just dance. There’s a real sense of release and freedom in that.
S: Yes, and that idea has a place.
C: The other is where you bring everything you’re feeling on to the dance floor and dance it out.
S: Right. Because it is nice to talk about the romantic, sweet dances, but we’ve also had some angry dances. And some sad ones.
C: I know that I’ve certainly come at it from both angles. Dancing was a major escape from my frustrations with grad school, and I tend to express what I’m feeling in personal relationships on the dance floor. I know you’ve heard me say this before since it is one of my deeply held beliefs: good technique is always in service of great expression. Our suffering makes us human just as much as our joy. I think the more we can bring all of those experiences into our dancing, the more fully expressed me become.
S: Oooh, that’s good. “Our suffering makes us human just as much as our joy.” I like it.
C: You know, its funny to me. When I started swing dancing, I just thought it was the most fun ever. I had no clue how powerful it would be in my life.
S: It’s a strange thing really: a public place that allows each of us to process private stuff. That is, if you want to keep it private. I wish we could go blues dancing but with the winter storm headed our way that’s probably not going to happen.
C: I think one of the reasons blues dancing is taking off is that there’s more room to express all of these emotions. Its not that lindy can’t be romantic and sensuous, or express anger and sorrow. I think its just a lot harder to show those feelings in lindy than in blues.
S: Often, yes. Especially with upbeat songs. Maybe we could just put on some tunes and dance tonight?
C: You know I like to use music to process my emotions; I’m always looking for the perfect song for every occasion. And I doubt another DJ will be playing what I’m feeling tonight.
S: Do you know what will be on your playlist?
C: What about “Lavender Coffin”?
S: Craig! “Lavender Coffin”? That’s funny but depressing. Okay, mostly funny.
C: Also, “I’ve Grown Accustomed to His Face” — Barbara Morrison.
S: Aww. Solomon did have a great kitty face. Anything else in the playlist you can tell me about?
C: “I Try” — Ben Taylor’s cover of Macy Gray.
S: Okay, I can’t listen to that now because I’ll start crying. Great song though.
C: Right. Tears are cathartic, too. “You can cry, but you better [dance] and cry.”
S: Hahaha. We’ve gotten so much mileage out of that quote from season 2 of Project Runway, “You can cry, but you better cut and cry.” Any other songs you want to share?
C: “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart” — Al Green
“You’ve Got to Hurt Before You Heal” — Diane Schuur
S: Well, save me some dances and thank you for being the DJ to my life.
C: Thank you for being my partner. Rest in peace, Solomon Rex Sparks. We loved you very much.