I’m writing this post a few weeks before it will be published, mere days after being at a wedding reception with … dancing. I used to be one of those people who hung out at the edges wishing I could dance.
Being from the U.S. we are not, shall I say, the most dancing country. When I moved to Sichuan Province in China, I lived near a large Minority Institute and every Friday night Tibetans gathered on one of the outdoor playgrounds, set up a boom box, and danced. Beautiful, inviting, circle dances that anyone could join in.
When a friend got married in Scotland it turns out that one of the most anticipated parts was the dancing?! They host a Céilidh (pronounced Kay – lee), involving Gaelic music and dancing. And again, because its group dancing anyone could join, it made me sad for American weddings.
I’m an outsider to the two examples I just gave, so probably have a bit of a romanticized view of both.
My association with dancing in America involves school dances or weddings. Until recent years when Zumba came in to popularity at the gym, I had a fairly uncomfortable relationship with dancing. I wanted to dance, at say, weddings, but am a person whose basics moves involved stepping left to right and trying to do something cool with my arms. Never being sure what the elusive cool move might be.
Brene reminds us how important laughter, song, and dance are to a whole-hearted life. But how risky they are because they are vulnerable … almost as vulnerable as being naked. I’ll do you one near naked, going to a waterpark with all of your teammates and colleagues. In China. Colleagues, you have conveniently always worn clothes in front of!
I like water parks, but part of it is because I will NEVER see these people again, so who cares what they think of my thighs or pouchy belly. But my friends, who I work with in the day light? Now that is a different story. It wasn’t really an option not to go, so I got up early the morning of the outing and put on my bathing suit and walked around my apartment for about an hour making myself get more comfortable with the idea I’d be interacting with my colleagues in our bathing suits – ALL DAY.
Where’s a good group dance on a Friday night fully clothed in the dark when you need one?
I am here to testify laughter, song, and dance can be cultivated. But I am also here to say, it takes time, intentionality, and little (and BIG) forays into vulnerability and uncomfortableness. For me, it was Zumba, for you it most likely will be something else.
Week after week, I showed up to my Zumba class, the only foreigner. One of the few with a large enough bottom the thought of wearing gym clothes with words on sown onto the behind, though maybe “fashionable,” was horrifying. One of the few who didn’t always understood what the teacher was saying and clung to every non-verbal message like a drowning woman. One who discovered, Zumba is fun and freeing and the gateway to other forms of dancing in life.
Flash forward to the aforementioned wedding with dancing. I hadn’t gone with anyone, though in my charming way I had glommed onto a man who also used to live in China and was a friend of the bride and I vaguely knew. (By glommed, I mean I told him I was going to stick with him the whole evening.) It came time for dancing and I have to admit, from a Zumba standpoint, the play list was great for group dancing (translation= no slow songs).
It was the kind of dance where we moved around and this person danced with that one or those two. Arms flinging here and there. Hips, legs, feet doing this and that. It wasn’t award winning, but it was fun.
After a while I noticed two of the bridesmaids standing at the edge, the way I used to. I danced over and invited them to join.
I’m sure you can guess their response.
We don’t know how to dance.
“Look at us, do you think we have any idea what we’re doing? Come join. Just move. Come dance. Come be with us.”
And they did. One from China, one from Oklahoma. Both children of God, made for laughter, song, and dance.
In the comments, I’d love to talk about what laughter, song, and dance are like in the countries you live in. And what they have been like in your life. Which of the three comes the most naturally to you? Which have you cultivated? Or want to cultivate more?
P.S. Here are the posts related to The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown:
- Introductory chapters (doesn’t that seem a while ago?)
- The things that get in the way and Guidepost #1 –Cultivating Authenticity
- Guidepost #2 –Cultivating Self-Compassion
- Guidepost #3-– Cultivating a Resilient Spirit: Letting go of numbing and powerlessness
- Guidepost #4 — Cultivating Gratitude and Joy
- Guidepost #5 — Cultivating Intuition and Trusting Faith
- Guidepost #6 –Cultivating Creativity
- Guidepost #7— Cultivating Play and Rest
- Guidepost #8 — Cultivating Calm and Stillness
- Guidepost #9— Cultivating Meaningful Work