How I Came To Love Dancing by Dana Williams


I never was into dancing. I hated doing it for gym class in high school. Doing it at "dances" or "weddings" never seemed to appeal to me. I didn't get it when people went to nightclubs to "dance".

But, somehow that changed. Because, you see, I've always loved music. I vociferously love and study music. To this day when I listen to music I can't pick out chords or rhythms or the lyrics because I'm too enraptured by the passion of the music. Sure, I can technically listen to the music and notice those sorts of things, but that's not what I first notice: "gee, that's a great A minor chord" or "wow, neat-o existentialist lyrics about the singer self-imposing himself as a child in an abandoned ocean-front house" or "this 3/8 time signature sure is tricky when it transitions back into 4/4 time". No, I love music for how it makes me feel.

And that's what I was missing with the whole dancing thing: I was trying to follow everyone else's rules. Dance like this. Move this way, then that way. Try not to stand out. Don't over-exaggerate your leg-movements, etc., etc., etc. Excuse me, but what a crock of shit. Everything changed when I gave up trying to dance like other people, and just decided to dance how the music made me want to dance. Finally it made sense!!

Wanna know who illustrates this point so vividly? Guy Picciotto. I know there's literally a small army of Fugazi fans lurking around here, so they know what I'm talking about. Is there anyone else out there who knows more about the one and only truth about dancing? Throw yourself around, bounce off the ground, spin around and around all the while retaining a strong semblance of rhythm--that's Guy.

Ever gone to a show (rock show or whatever kind of music show) and people just stood there staring at the band and you could swear that drool was about to drip from their non-moving lips on their non-bobbing heads, connected to their totally non-grooving bodies? I admit I don't really dance at shows since I'm to interested in watching the band, but I at least let my body react to the music, damnit! So many people will stand and not flinch a muscle. Not tap their feet, drum their fingers, bob their heads, or sway their hips. Nada. I ask: why the hell are they there? Do they like music? Does it affect them in any way at all? Or is it still "cool" to not show any emotions?

I must come clean and admit that one of the first places I "cut loose" was at a wedding. I realized that all the people around me were so drunk that I didn't really care if I made a fool out of myself, because they wouldn't remember anything the next day. And after I started dancing my way, I wouldn't have cared if they did remember.

Not too long after that followed a succession of trips to a bar where they have "80's Night" on Tuesdays, another night club or two, and another wedding. I now stand before you as a man who loves to dance. Sure, the setting has to be right, I have to be around moderately agreeable people, and (most importantly) it has to be music that MOVES me. But, given the right conditions, I'm content to be a dancing fool. Sure, my girlfriend calls me a nut, but I figure she's just jealous of all my cool moves. Seriously.

Any other dancers out there?


"At the dances I was one of the most untiring and gayest. One evening a cousin of Sasha, a young boy, took me aside. With a grave face, as if he were about to announce the death of a dear comrade, he whispered to me that it did not behoove an agitator to dance. I told him to mind his own business."

- Emma Goldman, radical feminist and anarchist, from "Living My Life"