Tag Archives: Dancing

That Guy Who Dances

Image thanks to Bob Mcgahan Photography

That guy who dances, yes that one there, can you see him? He doesn’t hang out with us much anymore; he’s outgrown us you know. He started dancing one night, just up and went to lessons. We didn’t think much of it at first; he started missing the midweek pizza nights. That was OK; we were just hanging around anyway. We called him a few names, a bit of ribbing, laughed at him a little, but he just sort of smiled, that smile you have when you are keeping a big secret from someone, honestly his grin was huge.

What was he doing, he has two left feet

We asked him about this grin, his secret. He showed us a group photo of the people he danced with. Damn, there must have been twenty beautiful women and six guys. We all laughed at him again, what was he doing, he has two left feet, he is as nervous as hell around women, and honestly he wouldn’t stand a chance with women like that. He’d be hitting way above his league.

He started missing guy’s pub night, Friday night. He said he was social dancing now. We joked he must drink a keg or two to venture onto that floor but he replied with the strangest answer. “You can’t really dance when you drink.” It sounded all back to front to me except he never really drank much after that, just in case he had to dance. Who in the world needs to be ready to dance at a moment’s notice?

Before he quit our Saturday night meat market escapades he started doing more things decidedly out of character. He would be the first one on the dance floor and all the girls would follow him. He’s so smooth now, I don’t know how he does it. Every step on time, every sway flowing with the music like he didn’t even have to think about it. 20 women dancing with him and I swear if there had been a minister in the room they would have married him on the spot, yet he looked bored. He seemed to have given up the chase. We asked him why he didn’t ask for any of the girls numbers. He told us “They aren’t dancers, they don’t understand and they’re not …” He shrugged, he couldn’t find the words he wanted. We were all really worried about him now, he’s just our dorky mate. Six months back he would have thrown himself at any one of those girls for a little bit of attention.

But he stopped coming out with us on Saturday nights, Sunday nights too – game night. We hardly see him now. He drops by from time to time, always with stories from dancing. He doesn’t have much time for us anymore he says. We noticed he has 2000 friends on Facebook and we said he couldn’t possibly know all these people. But he does, he can tell us which girls he has danced with, which guys are the good dancers, we haven’t caught him out yet. It’s scary, how does anyone know 2000 people personally?

A couple of hundred of his friends decided to have a day dancing by the beach

I saw him a few months back, well his photo anyway. He was in the paper. A couple of hundred of his friends decided to have a day dancing by the beach and a local journalist snapped it up. It looked like they were all having so much fun. I saw him again a few weeks ago. He had won a local dance competition and he was on the early news. He looked so tall and confident on TV. I guess it’s true what they say that the camera adds ten centimeters. He doesn’t look at all like the guy we used to know.

We get asked about him by strangers sometimes. Women will walk up to us in the pub and ask us where our friend is, “He’s dreamy” they say. “You should dance with him” they tell us. As if! We aren’t gay. “He twirled and twirled us and then we were so close and moving it was like having sex with clothes on” they mention wistfully. We laugh and say they must be talking about someone else. For some reason our laugh always comes out a bit forced though.

That guy who dances, yes that one there, can you see him. He’s a friend of ours, we have known him a long time but we don’t know him anymore. He changed. He isn’t a dork anymore, he hardly drinks, he doesn’t watch footy or do any of the guy stuff anymore. He knows everyone too, whenever we go somewhere there is always someone he greets, a guy he claps on the back, or a beautiful girl he hugs and kisses and says he promised to dance with them later on. When we see him now we all feel like we are at our parents’ house, as if we are children in his presence. He has outgrown us I think, somewhere in the last two years he became a grown up. I think he just keeps in contact hoping one day we will grow up too.

He teaches a class these days, he dragged me along one night. So many beautiful girls in the class and most of the guys, well they are all the boyfriends being dragged along, they didn’t want to be there. All those girls and they all wanted to be held close and just dance, dance with me. I’m wondering why I hadn’t done this before; it’s so much easier to meet girls this way. I warned him I can’t dance at the start of class but he smiled and said I will by the end. And I could, just the basics, but it was so thrilling to dance in time with someone else. There is something … I’m not sure what it is but, well, I think I’ll come back.

Originally published at the Good Men Project

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What A Man Wants In A Dance

Image thanks to Getty Images

Authors Note:I asked for input from men, I wanted a more general feel to this article, but we men are a recalcitrant bunch at times so this is from my own perspective combined with some input from a fellow dancer.

What do I want from a dance, it’s not an easy question as a guy, it doesn’t sit forefront in my mind and neither do the descriptions I would use involve words that normally leave my mouth. Think about this I did though and what I want is thus, from least to most. Perfection found in creation, the freedom found in release, connection bound through touch and most importantly, intimacy released through expression. There are other things I want such as friendships, conversations and social interaction but they don’t require a dance and they have in their own rhythm anyway. So the plot of what I want is set and I should guide you through this dance.

There is a drive inside me to perform, to create something on the floor and perfect it over time. It’s my repertoire, the moves that I have learnt; it is the very signature of who I am on the floor. The dance floor is a Lego mat and my moves the bricks. Each dance requires I pull them out and build something unique. I’m still new, still learning so my bricks are big and square, and while I yet want to build castles on the floor, square houses is where I am. This seeking of perfection in the dance that I create scarcely requires a partner but a partner I must include. I think solo dancers understand this oh so well, this is more important to a solo dancer than it is to me, but it is there, this seeking of perfection. I think all dancers have this, especially when new, we see so many castles on the floor, from dancers with decades of experience, how could we resist this wanting to emulate such perfection.

A place where music, feet and mind all meet, a place of meter, beat and rhymes.

There comes a time at the end of beginner’s hell, a time where your first dance has no time at all. A place where music, feet and mind all meet, a place of meter, beat and rhymes. It happens so rarely at first, but more frequently as you improve, as time and place merge where your presence is focused to a point and utter freedom is released. It’s hard to describe what it feels like when you no longer hear the music but your whole body feels the beat, you can’t fall out of sync, the music controls your feet. My mind when this happens, it’s gloriously blank, moves and movement happen and I have no idea where they come from, and for three beautiful minutes there is just me and the person in my arms. I have no idea how to replicate this and it still surprises me when it happens, but every night I head out to dance I hope find this freedom, this release, just one more time.

There is a language in touch, I never knew it was there. I’m faceblind you see and facial expressions are not my strength. I sometimes wish I could remember the color of my friend’s eyes, but with dancing I can remember the connection in our last touch. You see touch is the language of intent, movement and empathy; a connection based on touch runs deeper than one in words. I can feel my partner’s steps; I know when she is on the wrong foot and steady her when she loses her balance. I can guide my partner in this dance simply through intent and if I listen I can hear my partner’s intent too. But mostly I feel my partner’s mood, I can feel when they are relaxed, happy, tense or bored and for good or bad this connection based on touch tells me I am not alone. We spend so much time trying to connect with other people and with dancing that connection, at least for a time, comes true. I wish I had found dancing earlier in life, there is a healing in connection, in hearing it through touch, such a small thing touch but so large when it’s not there.

To all my regular partners I thank you, you make dancing special, and you make it shine.

With every regular partner with which I dance there is an intimacy that we reach. It goes beyond mere connection and goes into a world where a bond is formed. We share a measure of trust, understanding and familiarity. It’s not a relationship bond, but a dancing bond, where over time both my partner and I feel free to express that which we hold dear about dancing to the other. Each partner offers something special, something unique, and with each my dance is different but I can not always say how. Some I will dance closer and slower while some require speed and thrill. Each partner is dear to me as they offer something individual, a part of themselves which they only show to those they trust. It’s an emotional connection, a closeness developed over time. The physical closeness in dancing is considered intimate, but it is nothing compared to the closeness between minds. To all my regular partners I thank you, you make dancing special, and you make it shine.

So that is what I want when I dance, not much to ask for in a mere three minute song. I only seek perfection, freedom, connection and intimacy, no it’s not a lot to ask for, not at all. I can admit I am addicted to dancing, I understand how that works, for these things that I want are very special things. I can’t say all men want these things, I know some are players and some are after even simpler things, but these are the things I search for, the things that make dancing worthwhile.

Originally published at the Good Men Project

What Does a Lady Want in a Dance?

One man dared to asked the question about what women want in a dance.

They say romance is dead, that there is no excitement or mystery, that the feelings of being special have been relegated to a lost past. But I dared to ask what women want in a dance and women are still looking, searching, longing for romance, yet at the same time seem hesitant to acknowledge it. In one breathe they say dancing isn’t about romance, it’s about presence, openness, excitement, mystery and feeling special yet is this not the very definition of romance. There is a strange duality afoot where they rightly don’t believe in the prince charming form of romance yet can perfectly describe romance as if reading from a dictionary. As men we assume the romance that we read is the romance we need to give but should we not look to the actions of women who find what they are looking for in a dance partner. They don’t seem to be seeking perfection but rather they seem to be seeking romance. This is the dilemma we as men face, what we think women want against what women truly want.

They say that chivalry is dead and many a man and women would agree. But ladies still like to be asked, to be escorted to and fro. It’s a part of feeling special, that this dance is just for them. You see chivalry is about the wellbeing of your fellow partner, that they are protected from the mire. A woman would like to know that while in your arms you offer surety and safety, that their steps will be led with precision, their trust in you well placed. They would like to close their eyes and feel the music’s heartbeat knowing that they shall not collide with others on the floor. They say chivalry is dead yet I hear women talk and see how they act, they may agree chivalry is dead but the man who treats her with respect also gains their respect.

They say that trust is dead and everyone is in it for themselves. But ladies want to trust you, they want to believe you can be relied on. It’s a part of feeling special, that this dance is just for them. They want to believe you won’t hurt them, to trust that they won’t be dipped suddenly or trodden on. They allow you close; they allow you to hold them and they allow you to lead them, and for three minutes they want to trust you that you won’t violate that closeness. They want to trust you won’t treat them like an object to throw around, or that they aren’t there for your pleasure. They say that trust is dead yet I hear women talk and see how they act, they may agree everyone is in it for themselves yet a man who is open, honest and vulnerable to his partners needs will find that openness, honesty and vulnerability is returned.

They say excitement has been lost and in the age of adrenaline junkies that may be so. But ladies want that excitement, they want to be thrilled. It’s a part of feeling special, that this dance is just for them. A lady would like to feel graceful, poised and alive; it’s the thrill they search for in every dance. They want you to find out how skilled they are and be pushed to the edge of that skill, but no further. They don’t want the moves they can’t perform, it makes them feel ugly and clumsy. No, the excitement they seek is when music and moves flow together, when their heart beats to the tune of their feet and their body comes alive. They say that excitement has been lost yet I hear women talk and see how they act, they may agree excitement is hard to find but I see their flushed cheeks after a good dance and if as a man the dance has been exciting there is a good chance she feels the same.

They say mystery has been lost and in the age of science that may be so. But ladies crave this very mystery, they want to be intrigued. It’s a part of feeling special, that this dance is just for them. They want you to look them in the eyes as if they are the only person in the room. They want you to feel them on the other side of the connection; they want to know you can feel them as much as they feel you. They want to be lost in your lead, lost in a world of movement and connection, not knowing what comes next but feeling it nonetheless. They want to know that every fibre of your being is concentrated on the dance and them, and through that connection they will feel this too. They say that mystery has been lost yet I hear women talk and see how they act, they may agree they are looking for perfection but I have seen lesser dancers become sought after partners because of this very air of mystery.

They say that romance is dead but I hear women talk and I see how they act. Romance isn’t dead, nor has it been forgotten. Romance lies covered in trashy magazines and badly written novels, but it is still there. I hear them talk and see how they act; they are avoiding the cliché but they embrace the essence of romance. Do not listen to what you assume, they know the clichés are meaningless; they don’t seek a replication of some lines from a book. No, women want you; the exciting, authentic, mysterious, passionate person that is you. They want that directed at them so for three minutes they feel special, graceful and alive, that this dance is just for them. It’s your gift to them, your presence, and in a dance woman know that this is what they truly want.

Authors Note : A special thanks to those women who answered my questions honestly and I hope I did your answers justice.

My latest post for the Good Men ProjectWhat Does a Lady Want in a Dance?

Photo: Flickr/Andrey

The Language of Touch

Often in my writing about dancing I will refer to the language of touch. I’m not using this as a metaphor it is very real and critically important in dancing. Without out it dancing becomes mechanical and relies on the partners having a common background in leading and following. The language of touch adds a certain magic to dancing that turns an OK dance into an otherworldly adventure. You will have a dance every now and again where at the end of the song you feel like the king of the world, an entire dance where even your mistakes looked superb and you’re bewildered as to why you can’t dance like that all the time. This is the language of touch at work.

The English language is a language of things, actions and descriptions. As a writer making an audience “feel” requires that I evoke those feelings and I have to use various literary tricks to do so. “Jane paused, the weight of the world descending into her chest as she spied the ambulance.” In English I can’t just say Jane is scared it has almost no emotional effect. I have to lead the reader into imagining a situation where they have felt the same thing evoking those feelings as they are read. How does this apply to the language of touch?

The language of touch is a language of intention, movement and empathy. There is no defense against hearing these things in touch either, other than pulling away. I’m guessing this is why western culture is almost touch phobic, empathy can be a scary place to be. When you dance the connection you have through touch leaves your every intention wide open, every movement you want to perform can be seen and you will know exactly what your partner is feeling. Men you will have to learn how to talk in the language of touch loudly and clearly and ladies you will need to learn how to listen. It’s not the end of the story either because as you get better you will need to learn the opposite as well, men to listen and ladies to talk.

In English I have to evoke feelings, with touch you have to intend for something to happen and you have to really mean it, you can’t just raise your hand and expect the lady to follow, she will be confused because there is no intention behind the lead. I don’t mean that you just want something to happen either, you have to see it in your head exactly how both you and your partner will be performing the next move. You have to feel how you will move to lead it and feel how your partner will move when she carries out your lead. Men when you have been dancing for 12 months and all your female class mates seem to be outperforming you this is normal. Learning to talk in touch is hard and as men we have the short end of the stick. The learning curve for learning how to talk with touch is much much higher than listening. The ladies understand this and they eagerly await the day you start to understand and catch up. They do really want you to get there, they have danced with you in class for a long time now and they implicitly trust you when you ask them to dance socially.

I’m only just starting to learn how to listen in touch so I’m sorry ladies I can’t do this as much justice as I would like here. When you start to listen with touch you will find there is a specific feeling passed through touch. As a guy I don’t need to look at my partner’s feet to realize she is on the wrong foot I can sense it coming through the connection. It’s likely because her intention is to not collapse on the floor with a broken ankle. When a lady wants to spend a four count doing a bonus (a solo flare or move that makes her look sexy and awesome) or she wants to take her time performing a move slowly I can feel it through touch. I’m still not sure how I know when she wants to do these things but intuitively you can feel her intention and you adjust your leading accordingly. At a guess I can feel when there is a resistance to my intentions, she has her own intentions for a time and as a leader it gives us a small break while she makes herself and us look good.

I said touch is a language of movement and this is the physical aspect of touch. If you push or pull someone they will move. This is the component of touch usually taught in class, it’s the “how to” of leading. When intention meets movement this is when you will start to see things flow. You may push her forward or back with your frame but if you lack intention at the end of the force being applied the lady will stop wondering where you want her to move next. You will find in class the moves you learn seem easy, yet on the social dance floor the same move falls apart. In class the ladies already know your intention in advance so when you move your frame the ladies already know what to do as they have seen it demonstrated. On the social dance floor you have no such guarantee. This can be daunting at first because you think you aren’t leading correctly, sometimes that is true, but sometimes you lack the confidence behind the intention and the movement you impart simply isn’t strong enough for a the lady to hear.

Empathy. You can tell a lot about your partner when you dance with them. You can tell if they are trustworthy, nervous, happy, sad and indifferent or a whole host of things. You won’t always get it right as it comes down to listening again. You can use this as you see fit but for dancing if a lady is excited and happy she will want to dance faster with more spins and turns. If she is mellow and wants to feel the music you will dance closer and slower and the entire mood of your dance will be different. Again this is something I am still learning so use your intuition but knowing how your partner is feeling goes a long way into turning an OK dance into an awesome dance.

If you’re a dancer the language of touch isn’t something that is taught, not in its totality, it’s something you have to pick up by yourself. It takes time and many mistakes, not to mention it’s always different with every partner. It will come eventually if you stick with it though. There is a lot to learn in the first six months of dancing and often on the social floor it is a compromise between feet, moves and leading (pick any two). As you learn you will pick up the language of touch and dancing starts to become much easier.

Romance Isn’t a Story, It’s Dancing

Come and see, enter here, this is no ordinary hall but a world of stories. Dancers here, lovers there, the stage is set waiting for music grand. Hear the siren call, see the curtains draw, can you not feel it in the air. Feel the heat rise up, heartfelt stories hang bare, waiting for their moment in the light, waiting to be told on a polished wooden floor.

See his stance, shoulders high, as his gaze crosses the floor. Excitement, mystery, he seeks for something not revealed by sight. Someone new, someone bold, he scans the room for a partner in crime. Burnt sienna, wreath of hair, his eyes alight and time stands still. Feel the earth, feel it shift, a question leaves his lips. Will she dance, dance with him, will she sees what story unfolds.

Not a princess here, queen of this soft night, skills born of blood sweat and tears. Her equal is sought, take her hand and lead, so her art she will create. Hold her strong and tight, let her burn so bright, the center stage is hers and she wants the light. Dance her life and love, dance her passion spent, she hears the question fall. Will she dance with him, will he be the light, “Gladly” explodes from her hope filled lips and so two now enter the floor.

Now they meet, now they touch, and introductions must be made. Him the lead he takes, she obtains the follow, and the conversation waxes between them. Not of words, not of speech, this is a connection through touch. Can you hear the buzz, can you taste the vibe, as they each take their measure. Words of trust, passion too, excitement and nerves flow through their arms and the dance begins. She feels his green step, she notices all, and she senses his hidden strength and creativity. She has skill, confidence, and he courageously leaps to the challenge uncertain if he can meet her skill.

Hear the verse, see the story, now danced on a blank wooden canvas. Can you see, can you tell, his character laid bare for her to observe. Old and young, wise and green, he attempts an art form of which he is not well versed. Not for him, glory or fame, he seeks to make the world beautiful one piece at a time. Wonder seen, ideals espied , this young swain knows the goal but not the path. Words his tools, dreams his paint, he see the links between words and feet yet inexperience plagues his steps.

Hear the verse and tale, rhyme and cadence join, painted in movement and beat for all to attend. Can you tell her story, told with gleeful pride, she is a dancer of renown known by all but him. Smart and bold with charm, allure smites all comers, she knows her art and this picture needs painting. Deep and lasting pride, life fervor and love, is the standard she has set for those who wish to compete. Symmetry and grace, principals refined, she knows the paths to walk yet she can not yet see her goal. Dance her brush and stroke, heart her paint and print, she know what needs be done yet still she searches for excitement and mystery.

Alas, as the chorus clashes in the background and so do his feet. Discord approaches with his faltering steps. With an uncertain lead he now understand he is not her equal and he knows not what to do. Doubt clouds his judgment and fear blinds his purpose. She now leads, taking up the slack. She has been here before, another partner unable to continue the quest. This dance may have ended on this very chorus, two dancers with no more to paint and their conversation muted to apologies. But the song continues and this dance has life yet.

Three a beat, dum de dum, and our hero knows it is insufficient for the challenge. Five a count and beat, dum de dum de dum, and our heroine knows it is too much for him to match. But wait right here now, it is MAMBO arrived. Our young swain dug deep and inspiration did leap. Dum de d-dum de dum, step now doubled in speed, she senses the change and thrilling tension enters the air. Steps of beauty so fair, bodies connect so close, and two now dance as one as people stop and stare. Time is static for now, time lies dormant this floor, as our couple twirls and spins lost to the music and lost to each other. He is not her equal, she is not his equal, opposites, different yet the same, now joined in passion drawing a rich tapestry upon a polished wooden floor

But all things must end and a song is but five minutes. When they surface for air our couple struggles. Lost in their picture for a song their fall to earth has no soft landing. They support each other for one brief moment, steadying themselves, keeping each other upright and sharing quiet comments. We can not tell if their story continues as they leave the floor, we can not see into the future. Will they dance again? Who knows? The painting left lingering in this hall suggests so. The tapestry left in the mind of the watchers depicts a tale worth telling and such tales always hold more.

This was a particularly hard piece to write, I’ve never attempted something with this much rhythm. So a special thanks to Eduardo who provided some of the original inspiration and with his permission I rewrote his original article in prose-poem form.
Dance: A Metaphor for Life and Love

Date a Man Who Dances

Date a man who dances because a man who dances is one of the strongest men alive. A man who dances has faced his peers and told them “Begone, give me room to move.” He is no ordinary man, when you date a man who dances that strength lies by your side. Within easy reach is a man who has convictions and isn’t afraid to live by them, When you date a man who dances you can trust he is standing behind his conviction that you are a person worth dating and he won’t back down. A man who dances may have strength in his arms but his real strength lies in his mind and his passions and a man who dances has the strength to use them.

When you date a man who dances under his strength he owns a softer side. He understands the language of touch and he is strong enough to listen. A man who dances knows how to hold you. He can feel your every thought. When you date a man who dances he can tell when you are afraid, excited, in love, trusting, happy or sad. If you date a man who can dance when he holds you he also knows how to talk to you when you touch. When a man who dances holds you he can turn you around, turn you up or turn you on. His hold can make a bad day sunny, he can hold you tight so you never want to let go. A man who dances can hold you in such ways that you can close your eyes and let go and know he won’t let you fall.

A man who dances isn’t a normal man. When you date a man who dances he will show the very heartbeat of life around you. He will tap it out for you until your feet want to move and your fingers twitch to the beat. A man who dances will show you that every sound has a flow and ebb and his body can float through these waves. A man who dances can take you on a journey through peaks and troughs more gloriously than any speedboat ride and when it stops you’ll be left with an empty spot you didn’t know needed filling.

You see when you date a man who dances he knows how to lead. That speedboat ride wasn’t chaotic and random. He sees those crests and valleys and he will take you through them with ease. Because a man who dances has the path picked out. When you date a man who dances you won’t stumble because when he’s holding you he already knows you’re on the wrong foot. A man who dances will change the move so your wrong foot is exactly the right foot. A man who dances will give you so many opportunities to ride those crests and be graceful, sexy, seductive and exuberant that you won’t understand how no one else can make you look and feel that way. A man who dances knows how to lead you to those places and he isn’t afraid to take you there.

When you date a man who dances he makes you feel that way because he has passion in abundance. A man who dances knows that a passion shared is a passion doubled. He doesn’t hide it from the world or let it squalor at the bottom of his heart too afraid to let it shine. A man who dances wants you to be so caught up in his passion that you don’t want to let go, He wants you to hold him while he dances as if nothing else existed and have that very passion reflected back to him. He wants to see his passion shine from your eyes as you ride those crests. He wants to see it turned into seduction, pleasure and desire, to see it beat out through music, rhythm and movement and a man who dances needs someone there to follow him.

You will never feel as alive as you do with a man who dances. A man who dances will show you how to live in a way that is primal. He will take your heart and your mind to a place most have forgotten. When you date a man who dances he will destroy your concepts of what men should be and show you what men really are. When you date a man who dances you must be prepared to never look back at ordinary men because few will ever hold the flame that a man who dances does. Nor will ordinary men be able to take you to the places a man who dances can. Dating a man who dances is a one way trip to a world of beauty which few can return untouched and none forget. He will set a standard you didn’t know could be reached and the ordinary will never be as satisfying again.