Music Matters: Dancing on My Own

Confession, Internet.

I’ve had a lousy couple of weeks. It’s not just politics, it’s a lot of things. I’ve just been feeling drained and overloaded, trying to wade through a lot of junk.

So this morning when I sat down to write for you, I didn’t have much.

I’m going to see Robyn tonight, but y’all have heard enough from me on that subject. Still, it did make me think.

When I was blogging at Feministe this summer, I wrote about dancing. I quoted Barbara Ehrenreich and wrote of dancing as a social good as well as a way to build my own confidence and strength.

Well, there’s a reason that conservatives have always tried to shut down the party, and it ain’t their concern over offensive rock and rap lyrics or drug deaths. No, it’s because they know full well what happens when we all reach that moment together when we look around and we don’t know how much the person next to us makes or where they were born or what their citizenship status is or who they sleep with or voted for, we just smile because we are there, together, and none of it matters but our basic humanness.

But today? Today I need some self-care time. Today I still feel for the rest of the world, but I have to remember to feel for myself as well. It’s time to narrow my focus a little, to make time for a few people close to me, to give myself permission to slow down.

And so still: I go dancing.

I have been accused of “thinking too much” for ages, and there are few things that can absorb me, take me out of myself and truly give me a break from constant overanalysis, questioning, pushing myself to work harder, more.

But the dancefloor has always done it for me. Doesn’t matter much what kind of music. In my days as a spookyweird kid in New Orleans it was goth night and punk shows, doing the cobweb-pull (goth inside joke) or slamming into other bodies in the pit, wearing my bruises as a badge of honor. I’m mostly too old (or fragile!) for that at punk shows now but at age 30 still got myself a tattoo as a reminder, paraphrasing Emma Goldman’s famous, possibly-apocryphal line “It’s not my revolution if I can’t dance to it.”

My desktop background on my computer is a line from Nietzsche, of whom I am not normally a fan. It reads “I would believe only in a god that knew how to dance.”

Well, yeah.

And so I have papered my life with reminders: Sarah, dancing makes you feel better. Few things have ever been so bad as to be able to follow me onto the dancefloor. If I can move, I can dance. It’s just a matter of finding the right song and the right crowd—or a few minutes alone. Call it endorphins, call it whatever you want, it works.

by Sarah Jaffe
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3 Comments Have Been Posted

Up, down, turn around...

Yes! I looove "Temptation." Great post! Thanks for the reminder that a little music can really help get you out of your own head sometimes.

I put on high heels and dance

I put on high heels and dance like I'm in sneakers. I put on whatever makes my ass shake and go for it, sometimes you need to dance, it's like morning coffee.

New Order - good choice!

New Order - good choice! When I was a teenager, I'd pop in my New Order tape whenever I was about to go out. No matter how I was feeling, dancing to it gave me a sense of euphoria and boosted my confidence.

I've often thought that dancing really is a true cure-all.

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