Monthly Archives: June 2014

“Feeling” the Music

dancing to the music

Me, caught up in the music. ūüôā

You know how some people scrutinize your playlist and base who you are on the type of music you like to listen to? You know how people have “guilty pleasures” they listen to when no one’s around, or bond over with other “geeks”, and eventually feel proud about listening to when they get older?

It’s funny, because I actually prefer to listen to other people’s playlists over my own. I’ve gone through three iPods now (through a mix of breaking or losing them) and enjoy going through other people’s playlists, remembering songs I used to be really into, discovering new gems, and appreciating songs I have never taken the time to really listen to before. I had the choice to delete all the songs from a used iPod I bought about a month ago and start with a blank slate of my own (which I would have filled with music to practice to), and I decided to keep the songs, even though there aren’t any house or hip hop songs or music I probably should put on, and would add if I had the option to. But I’ve discovered a handful of awesome disco and funk songs, one legit blues song and dancehall song, lots of Michael Jackson songs, songs with awesome lyrics and meanings, songs I grew up with — just so much to give a chance and listen to with new ears, now that my ears, mind, heart, and soul are so much more capable of hearing and feeling than they were before.

 

"Listening to" versus "feeling" the music = two very different things.

“Listening to” versus “feeling” the music = two very different things.

Don’t know where I was going with this. I think it’s valuable and worthwhile to give all music a chance. Before I started dancing, I didn’t like so many different types of music — hip hop, funk, house, disco, blues, salsa, jazz, breaking, “chill music,” etc. I’d wish they would play something else, and had no idea how anyone else could enjoy it. I spent so much time feeling stupid for practicing to music I didn’t like, but always found myself one day genuinely liking, and then loving the music. Today, I LOVE funk, blues, hip hop, house, disco, and other music. My friend wanted me to try sending happy energy to other people, and I discovered that, to get into a happy state, I only had to listen to the music being played around us (breaking, and another type that was far off in the distance), to feel a smile form on my face and get into a happy state.

There are still some types of music I don’t understand or relate to yet. In fact, I only started liking breaking music last week, when I felt the breaking groove for the first time, which kind of unlocked the music for me.

Someone told me this week that you have to get the music first to get the dance, but I think it really is the opposite case for me. As a¬†person, I have to feel it in my body first — appreciate it in my body first, through dancing or singing — for my ears to start appreciating what they are hearing.

In high school and university where my main interests were writing and singing, the music I appreciated was in the form of songs with relatable and/or powerful lyrics, especially the songs I could belt out as a soprano. I’m so glad that these last few years, months, weeks, and days have allowed me to appreciate music at a whole new level.

Have you ever soloed to kizomba music? Leapt, soared, and gotten so lost in exhileration that you pulled your partner along for the ride with you to electronic music? Waacked to passionate Argentine tango music? I don’t know why, but tango music makes my arms¬†and body¬†move like nothing else, though my legs haven’t gotten it, since I haven’t acquired the footwork yet. ¬†And the salsa music that many people complain is monotonous and boring? Try solo dancing to it — really listening and just moving your body to it — and you will come to feel, as I did, that it is far more interesting than its 1,2,3, 5,6,7 rhythm would lead you to believe.

There is always something to appreciate in the music (though a lot of the music that has been cropping up lately, I haven’t really been paying attention to and can’t speak about). One of the things I love most about partner dancing is being able to share another person’s experience of the music — and the ability to co-create a new experience. Especially with dances like fusion, WCS, and tango, where the opportunities to play with the music are almost limitless… omg, a great dance is an experience to be savoured.

As I posted on my Facebook page earlier today:

Learning to dance feels like how it felt for me to learn French — don’t get it, don’t get it, don’t get it… and BOOM — understanding! Over and over again. Every dance is a new language waiting to be unlocked. ūüôā

Weird, I know, but I’m weird and I know it.¬†ūüėõ

Yep.

Yep.

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How I Got Happy by Giving a Damn About Everyone

**JOY** **JOY**  **JOY**

Lately, I’ve been feeling like a laser gun firing happiness at people. I don’t know about everyone else, but this is how it’s felt from my end.

I feel liked I’ve transformed into a different person in the last week and a bit, and it all started when my friend told me that I stand out, which got me researching about auras and how they work. My friend told me that I’m the kind of person that people notice when I walk into a room, walk down the street, or just get in people’s general vicinity. And before he’d even told me that, just two weeks ago, a completely different, non-mutual friend had had to let me know (because it was so out-of-the-ordinary) during a lindy event that she had known when I had entered the room and walked past her from behind, even though she hadn’t seen me, and even though I hadn’t been to that dance in more than a month. She’d “felt” my arrival. At the time, I’d simply thought it was interesting. But from other comments from other people in the past, and from talking with others about it in the attempt to confirm whether or not this is in fact really the case, I’ve come to accept the fact that I really and truly do have a very strong presence.

The event that really made me believe was a¬†Canada Line train ride I¬†and my friends took, where we were talking and laughing the whole way. There was a little boy on that ride, standing beside us with his bike, with his dad, and I’d seen him looking at me, but I’d thought he was looking at our entire group because we were pretty loud.

“Nope,” my friends confirmed. “He was staring at you the entire time. And kids don’t lie.”

Older people¬†will do things to act like they’re not looking, but kids will openly stare.

I used to be super-negative and frustrated about my dancing because I thought that my experiences were my own and mine to suffer alone. I thought that I was just another person that no one noticed and could just ignore. Now that I’ve learned that I have a particularly powerful aura, I’ve become a lot more positive and happier, and not even on purpose. It’s like, the knowledge that I can impact so many others without even knowing it has made me a nicer, friendlier, happier person that I can honestly say I like, because it feels good to radiate this positive energy that makes everyone feel happier.

That very evening, following my experience with the kid on the train, was the first time I felt this radiant joy filling my entire being.¬†I had left my friends so I could attend¬†a monthly fusion dance, where I could feel happiness simply exploding from my body. And it felt like everyone I talked to, danced with, or communicated with that night couldn’t help but get a little infected by that energy. i saw so many big, genuine smiles that night, got so many sincere positive comments, and got asked to dance like crazy, even when I was working the door for an hour, where it is unusual to get asked to dance at all. I couldn’t have had a bad dance if I had tried, because every dance feels awesome when you are that happy. This was reflected in pretty much every lead I danced with making a comment a cut above the generic, “That was awesome.”

I posted on Facebook about the event later that week (I’ve been posting dance updates on Facebook rather than on my blog for a really long time now, because I’ve been too lazy to write actual blog posts about my experiences):

“I have taken to smiling when I partner dance. Not fake, plastic smiles, but big, genuine smiles.

A lead mentioned I must be happy because I was smiling while we were dancing (when I responded to his question about why blues had fallen in priority — due to its ability to make me miserable), and I responded, “I’ve decided to smile when I partner dance because it makes me happier and my leads happy.” In fact, I hadn’t ever consciously decided on doing such a thing, but I guess I had subconsciously.

I bumped into a lead friend at the Canada Line platform yesterday and had a conversation with him about presence and auras. He had been my very first dance at FUSE on Friday, and he told me he could feel my bubbly and happy energy, and that the dance was awesome even though it was his first one and he hadn’t even warmed up, and he had a terrific time all night, filled with positive energy. I have no idea if it had anything at all to do with me, but if I can help make someone else’s dance night awesome, then so much the better.

I had to stop dancing blues because it was making me too unhappy, and me miserable is the complete opposite extreme of me happy. And if you’ve seen me at my happiest, then you can imagine what misery means to me.”

In response, a friend commented:
“I agree with the random lead from Friday. I think you might have been my first dance at Fuse too – I hadn’t expected to lead so early on – but you were super happy and smiling and it was a really wonderful dance. Thank you!”

I know three people that shine with the happiest of auras that make everyone happier when they are around — I can’t help but feel happy just by seeing them. I am not one of these special, vitally important people, but, it’s knowing that I can be that kind of person sometimes that has made me change.

The thing is, I don’t think I have changed for myself, but for the knowledge of my ability to affect others’ happiness. It’s okay for me to be miserable if I’m being miserable by myself, but I don’t want to bring others down with me.

So it’s not like I go around pretending to be happy and putting a fake smile on face, thinking I’m some kind of super-hero that spreads happiness.

^ not me.

^ = not me.

Rather, I feel like I am becoming a genuinely happier person, grateful to know I have friends who genuinely like me (including those genuinely happy people), and happy to have survived my bout with negativity.

My friend told me he purposely prevents himself from reaching those highest states of happiness — of pure joy and unbelievable happiness — because he knows they will always be followed with a crash that is just as strong.

I’ve experienced and will probably continue to experience both sides of the coin, but I’m not going to be cautious with my happiness. If I’m going to be happy, I’m going to experience happiness to its fullest.

Because happiness is life’s greatest gift, and I’ll be damned if I let my fear of the crash deny me the experience.

It’s like my dancing — two weeks ago, my dancing the entire week was garbage, and this week, it has — no exaggeration — been the best it’s ever been. I’ve had so many of my biggest click moments in the last week — things I have been working toward from the very start and could just never get — come at me all at once. I could have stopped dancing after that draining and miserable week, deciding to take a break to recuperate, but I just kept dancing through it, and the happiness of this week erased last week away.

Happiness is greater than — is stronger than — misery. And to me, feeling happiness in such a pure, unadulterated form is worth it.

We live in a society where people feel guarded with their happiness, because we are afraid that others will take it away. This is justified. Some people see a happy couple and feel spiteful and hateful and think about all the reasons why they shouldn’t be together, because, deep down, they are jealous of their happiness. Some feel sad or depressed because they don’t have this kind of happiness themselves. But the genuinely happy people see these people and feel happy for them and their happiness. Yes, this is a weak example that has holes in its logic, but I don’t really feel like racking my brain for a better example right now, so this will have to do.

True happiness is having so much of it that you want to share it with everybody. Guarded happiness will never feel as good.

I was so angry in my last post (Too Much Hate: Can We Really Dance Like No One’s Watching?), because I couldn’t understand how people could go out of their way to steal people’s happiness. I understand people not going out of their way to make others happy, but to make it your business to take innocent happiness away is just about the wrongest thing you can do.

It’s funny, because I just typed in, “How I Got Happy” into Google to see what was already out there on the topic, and got back a book called A$$hole: How I Got Rich & Happy by Not Giving a Damn About Anyone & How You Can, Too.

And that’s how I got the title to this post.

Finding that title was like a click moment: I wasn’t happy when I didn’t give a damn about anyone. And when I posted my last article, I really hadn’t given a damn, about anyone.

But now I do give a damn about others¬†— because I’ve felt misery so purely and intensely so many times¬†and so often now that I can’t even count the number of times I have been reduced to tears or to blinking tears back in public, all dance scene induced. And if I can’t prevent people from feeling this kind of misery, then I would at least like to contribute to getting them as close to the dancer’s high as they possibly can, so they can at least get a taste of the “happy” extreme.

It’s this — this giving a damn — that has allowed me to feel happier than I’ve ever been.

I’m not saying that this is your route to happiness, but it was mine.

Happy dancing is the best dancing of all!

Happy dancing is the best dancing of all!

 

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Too Much Hate: Can We Really Dance Like No One’s Watching?

Dance like no one's watching, even if they are.

Dance like no one’s watching, even if they are.

I am sickened.

I am repulsed.

I know that I can be a bitch and that I can be mean and that I can be too blunt and that I can be unfriendly and that I can be downright unlikeable (heck, I don’t even know if I like myself). But I don’t go out of my way to hurt people. I don’t go out of my way to discourage people from doing things they enjoy just because they aren’t good at it.

It shocks me just how hateful people can be.

Today, I discovered just how much hate I have surrounding me. I’ve always known/suspected it was there, but now it’s been confirmed, and instead of feeling embarrassed or sad or humiliated or depressed or mortified by it, at first I was neutral and thoughtful about it. And now, after having some time to think about it, I am just plain mad.

My friend told me that, when I first started dancing, people — complete strangers —¬†would come up to him and ask him, “Why are you encouraging her?” I was so bad that they wanted me to quit. They couldn’t understand why I didn’t quit. They had no idea who I was, and yet they went out of their way to try to get me to stop dancing. They didn’t personally know me or my friend, but still felt that *I* was their business. And they weren’t even ballsy enough to do it to my face — they had to try to go through my friend to do it, even though he hid this information from me until now because he didn’t know how I would take it. And I had it confirmed that people were the exact same way when I started solo dancing. I have had, and still have haters in every dance scene — EVERY dance scene. That, I am okay with. What I’m not okay with is the fact that people would go out of their way to try to stop a person they don’t even know from dancing. That they would take the trouble to go that far with it.¬†The reason why my friend even told me this was because he’d asked, “Why did you even start dancing anyway?” and I’d said, “Because it was fun.”

I honestly think that I liked dancing more when I was horrible at it than I do now. The happiness I have lately been feeling while dancing was the kind of happiness I felt when I first started partner dancing — ballroom, salsa, swing, etc. — it made me SO happy to dance these dances, even though I didn’t know what the heck I was doing (and how could I have, when all I had were 30 min worth of beginner lessons for each?!).

Every summer, free dance events bring new beginners out every single week. Heck, every day, dances bring out enthusiastic new dancers. And the great majority of these dancers suck. How can they help it when some, like me, have never, ever danced before?

What. the. fuck.

This is not okay to me. Maybe I am the exception because I “stand out” and just particularly suck at EVERYTHING until something in my brain finally clicks and I finally get it, but I am disgusted to think that this could be happening to potential new dancers everywhere. The average person would simply curl up and die after hearing about even one person dissing them like this, but I don’t think I would have. It would have just made me even more determined to get better. But I am the exception. How can people be so cruel that they are able to do shit like this? WHY? I really want to know what drives people to go the extra mile to discourage others.

I have sucked at every dance I have ever taken on. Belly dancing, ballroom, salsa, swing, tango, west coast swing, kizomba, zouk, lindy, blues, fusion, hustle, hip hop, funk, popping, locking, house, waacking, breaking (dunno if I am missing any?). It’s almost unbelievable how bad I was at EVERYTHING and how hard it was for me to learn anything at all. I sucked so exceptionally that I had haters like this. And I had to experience the hate almost all within the same 1 to 2 years because I was taking on all the dances at the same time.

And I don’t suck anymore. I worked my ass off to get the simplest thing that every other person would pick up easily. I mixed up every dance and still mix up my dances. Just yesterday, a friend commented that my house looked like salsa and tango, and I looked at my reflection and fixed it right there and then.

If I knew who the people were who tried to get me to quit, they would immediately go on my blacklist, along with some incredible, most-sought-after leads who are so full of themselves that they think it is okay, or in fact their right, to fuck with a person’s feelings and make them feel unworthy of dancing with them. GET OVER YOURSELF. You had to start out somewhere yourself — please check your ego long enough to remember how you felt. I would rather dance with a nice person than a superb, but supremely arrogant, dancer.

I don’t think dance scenes can make me miserable anymore, after what I’ve just learned, because I don’t think they can have the power to hurt me anymore. Just prove yourself to be a person like this to me, and I won’t respect you enough to care about how you choose to treat me anymore.¬†

I’m going to make even more haters from this post. I’m going to lose more “friends.” I’m going to have people talk shit behind my back while not saying anything to my face. And I don’t give a fuck anymore.

I have my handful of friends who have stuck by me through my Canada Line craziness (if you don’t already know, I practice dancing on public transit and random public places, mostly the things that I most suck at) and all throughout my transformation into a legit freak pointed and laughed at on a regular basis for my decision to dance like no one’s watching, even though they are. I can say that I have friends who have proved that they support me and stand up for me without me having to be fake and changing who I am so they will like me. Can you say the same?

I’d rather know who my real friends are than surround myself with friends who only like me when I don’t suck at things and when I have to change who I am in order to fit in.

If you enjoy doing something, please keep on going. Please don’t let others make it their business to make you feel so bad about yourself that you have to quit. If you want it badly enough, you can find a way to do it, and even if you can’t, people don’t have the right to take away the happiness you derive from a simple activity. Don’t give them the power to do shit like that. Tell them (in your head, if you must) to fuck off and leave you alone.

To learn to dance like no one’s watching is a powerful, powerful thing.

Sorry and not sorry for all the profanity. It gets the point across.

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