Saturday, August 28, 2010

Day 24: If you can walk you can dance

I think every human is born with an innate desire to dance. I've watched babies around the world flail tiny fists in response to the first few notes of a song. I've danced around the room with nephews and nieces and recorded elaborate music videos as a child myself with my girlfriends. But where I come from, by about the age of ten you know if someone is a real dancer or not - and if you're not, you turn your extra curricular activity focus elsewhere and start working on your go-to move for all future dance opportunities. If you're me, you come up with a ridiculous dance face to hide your fear that you're making a fool of yourself each time the beat gets going, even as that inborn desire to move with the music has never left you.

In Kenya people never learn to be self conscious of their dancing ability. It wouldn't occur to someone here to put themselves in a "good" or "bad" dancing category. Because dancing is simply an extension of the self - an automatic reflex to good music and good times that refrains from demanding optimal circumstances, a perfect partner or any validation from those around you. I love being at a local bar and seeing a table of people with one person who just can't stand it anymore and has to get up and dance in place. They don't dance to seduce, they don't dance because they're sick of talking or because they're trying to get someone's attention (as with any rule, there are exceptions). Most people I see dancing here simply dance because they must - there body moves and at some point they can't sit still.

Last night I went out with some friends and I danced like no one was watching. I gave in to the reality that if I were to let my self consciousness hold me back I'd be alone in such silliness. I felt at home in my skin and unaware that anything set me aside from those around me who never learned to question why their body must move when music calls it to.

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