What happens when you dance for love

I am a prickly creature.

I love easily, but I don’t love easily.

I have been single now for almost a decade.

I work alone; I live alone; I go for coffee alone.

I have friends, don’t get me wrong. At least two, last I checked.

But for a wide variety of reasons that are completely irrelevant, currently, I simply don’t often find myself experiencing affection. Or intimacy.

This is why I dance.

I crave love.

I know this. My friends know this. Everyone I encounter on Facebook knows this. I talk about it so openly and frequently it’s obnoxious. The most obnoxious.

But I do so often talk about what I call my dance addiction in part because I think it’s something very important for us to talk about, as dancers.

How it works is really quite simple:

It isn’t that you want a boyfriend. It’s not that you need a girlfriend, or even a hook-up. You just (I just) need your intimacy-itch scratched.

Dance is a world in which we connect. When you step onto the floor with someone, you are fully with each other. You are present with one another. The music, and the floor, and the flying elbows from the couple next to you play important roles but you are, ideally, all that exists for each other.

You meet eye contact, and you watch out for one another. You pay attention to one another. You tune into each other. Psychologically, you play the role of protector, or maybe even of confidant.

Often, you experience a lot of physical contact. You trace your fingers along your partner’s shoulder blades; you interlock your fingers with theirs; you accidentally bump noses; you inhale against one another’s chests.

Physical contact is arguably an absolute necessity for both physical and psychological wellness. Oxytocin – the “love hormone” released when touching – is thought to modulate the body’s immune response, lower blood pressure and reduce stress hormone levels. It stimulates the release of beta-endorphin, which is the molecule secreted by ‘runner’s high’ and which creates ecstatic feelings of joy. Touch also causes serotonin and dopamine to rise. No wonder that as healing as physical touch – and dance – can be,  it can also be powerfully addictive. Truly, powerfully addictive.

When you dance for love, like I have done, dance can become your world. It becomes the place you flirt, the place you are validated, the place you relax, the place you feel at home, the place you feel cared for, the place you feel the most alive. If dance is the best source in your life of affection, intimacy, touch, and the like, then I wouldn’t be surprised if you were like me, absolutely obsessed with dancing at every opportunity possible.

Quite literally seven days a week.

Quite literally disregarding other opportunities and responsibilities, because they seem so dull, like such terrible drags, compared to the power of dance.

But what happens, if you fall in love? Or into something that is intimate, and warm?

Interestingly, when people who dance for love end up meeting people they care about – they slow down their dancing. Often quite a bit. We all have that friend who gets a girlfriend, and then we don’t see them for three months. When they roll back into the club on some arbitrary weekday night, we know the relationships didn’t last.

Time is a factor, obviously. Relationships take time. But I do also really believe, from watching this phenomenon ebb and flow throughout my communities, that people also simply meet their needs for intimacy. They feel less of a desire to dance because they have such good and strong connections elsewhere.

Then they are freed up to do and explore other things, like skydiving, or tattoo artistry, or poetry, or whatever the hell else they like.

Or, they start to scramble, like I have experienced, to remember how wonderful and valuable other aspects of the dance can be, such as friendship, movement, playfulness, and, perhaps most sustainably of all, the music.

Or maybe not.

More on which another day. There are so many reasons to love dance and to stay committed to it, and to weather changes in your relationship with it over time. I can’t wait to write more; this is yet one installment.

There are no real takeaways from this post, except for a few things I think worth mentioning:

1) To my friends who disappear into relationships: that’s cool, I support you and am glad you’re getting your fix. Don’t forget the other amazing things about dance!

2) To my friends who have lived with the same addiction that I have to some degree or another: Enjoy it! It feels good to dance. On the other hand, I feel for you very much, and please know I love you. I will hug you always.

3) To my friends who are lonely but don’t dance: this is good stuff here. really. good. stuff. check it out.

4) To the charitable and wonderful people who have followed this blog: Please forgive my absence. I don’t dance (or write about dance) quite as obsessively as I did a few months ago, as my addiction has lessened into something more sustainable. I have been asked to write more about balance, more about spinning, and more connection, and I promise I will get to them in due time. After I spend some time skydiving, writing poetry, or whatever the hell else I am free to pursue.


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