anyone can dance

I waited to pee for 45 minutes this morning.

I was too busy dancing to stop.

This is nothing short of a miracle.


When I was…oh That Age, about sixth grade, I discovered that I couldn’t dance.

This was a wee bit of a surprise, seeing as how I’d been contra dancing since I was ten and could learn all the moves on my mom’s aerobics TV shows.

But that thing that people did when they went to school dances?  It made me feel weird.

Much later I would discover that this was about improvisation + getting it wrong + being judged + feeling sexy when I moved + knowing that wasn’t something I wanted in public or at school, but at the time it was all I knew that I couldn’t dance.

Could. Not.

And in fact, it stayed like that for a good long time.  Twenty years.  Twenty years of yes-I-can-learn-that-routine and of-course-I-can-contra but no-I-won’t-get-on-that-dance-floor.

Plus, the music was WAY too loud and it hurt my ears.

(There is NOTHING uncooler than insisting that you need earplugs to be in the same room as the speakers.  Except sticking toilet paper in your ears because the teachers say you must be in the room with everyone else.)

Fast forward, fast forward.

It was 2009 when I finally really unravelled the mystery.  I was at, of all things, a business conference, targeted mostly at women, in New York City.  The incredibly unshy Marie Forleo had everyone UP and DANCING between every speaker.  The vast majority (VAST) of the attendees were straight women, so that entire meat market feeling was missing.

And I danced.

Just for fun, no one watching, because the beat was good.




And the very old key turned in the very rusty lock, and I started to occupy my body in that particular way for the first time.

fast forward a few more years.

A friend says, “You really need to try contact improv.”  And then she takes me there and yes, I really should have tried it about ten years ago, but I wasn’t ready.

And then I go home and contact improv is waiting there, waiting for me to find it, along with related dance experiences like Dance Sunday.

Which brings me to this morning, and needing to pee.

I was dancing at Dance Sunday, which is two hours of uninterrupted music during which you can dance in just about any way you choose, with others who are present or solo.  I was mostly solo, and dropped right into the experience, the movement, the music, blissfully not thinking about anything, just present with the dance.

I noticed I had to pee, but didn’t want to stop–the greater pleasure will generally win–so I figured I’d wait until the music started to come down from the peak of the parabola.

It was 45 minutes, 45 more minutes of serious movement, partnered, alone, partnered, 45 minutes of being lost in the experience before something came on that broke my focus and I was willing to pause and go the bathroom.

This is what athletics feels like to me: not pressure to perform, not forcing myself to keep going keep going keep going, but a deep desire to do more of what is giving me such joy that I don’t want to interrupt it, not for anything, not even to pee.

Afterwards there was a picnic on the grass and lovely conversation and good company with some of the dancers.

And now I’m tired.  And plotting to make dance clothes.

I am an athlete, and this is what it looks like when art meets sport.

When have you forgotten yourself in the movement?

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