“Nothing is more revealing than movement.” – Martha Graham
I’m starting to believe more and more in kismet, though I guess a person with outstanding rhetorical skills could convince me kismet is nothing more than a series of coincidences. I’ve been craving a night of dancing for months. I’ve been re-visiting my favorite techno albums a lot lately (can I still use the world “album?” All my music is on my IPod, yet I hadn’t listened to techno/DJ music in a while), and my IPod has been frozen on Madonna’s “Confessions Tour Live” for the past 2 weeks. Last night, without any premeditation, a night of dancing presented itself to me. Dinner on the Upper West Side turned into drinks in Hell’s Kitchen, in a bar I used to spend a lot of time in, back when I went out (with the boys) every weekend. At a time usually considered the end of night (and a late one at that), we (me and the boys, though a different variation) strolled over to the Ritz Bar, which we chose for its proximity and the lack of cover charge. We walked in and, while waiting for drinks, heard an excellent re-mix of Madonna’s “Deeper & Deeper,” an underappreciated song and one of my favorites. Drinks in hand, we ventured into the back, to the dance space. I felt like a kid again; actually, I felt like the 26 year-old version of me. As I crossed the threshold, I banged into the wall of heat, and I paused. It felt like a subway platform in August; the smoke machine and tons of twisting, sweaty bodies only added to the visceral memories coursing through my body. I wondered: is this what I wanted? Am I still this person, the one who loves dancing among a bevy of boys, enough to ignore the intense heat and the smaller-than-my-comfort-zone-usually-allows space? I stepped into the dance space—yes, I am.
I stripped down to my tank top (fortuitous wardrobe choice), we found our corner and 2 hours of dancing began. Great DJ—he mixed it up a bit, with Madonna, Lady GaGa, a short, fun 80s set (including a giddy re-mix of Bon Jovi’s “Living on a Prayer” which, it turns out, we remembered every word to!), a fantastic dance mix of Tina Turner’s “Rolling on a River,” a small but potent paean to disco, and other songs I can’t remember. It took me a few songs to find my groove—I can’t remember the last time I went dancing, in a bar or club, sweating and smiling. Within 15 minutes, though, it was as if no time at all had passed; I was sharing smiles with the same dance partner from my 20s. A good DJ doesn’t just tumble into the next song—he/she presents a journey, and guessing where that path will lead is half the fun, for me. The DJ’s transitions were very good, and I quickly forgot (or my body adjusted to) the heat in the room. I looked around the room and felt the same satisfaction, the same comfort, I’ve always felt while dancing in gay (male) bars and clubs. Personal space is respected. Everyone knows how to dance (nothing worse than trying to dance among people who cannot—it can be painful to watch). The fun is palpable—despite the heat, there is a lightness in the air, a zest for life. And, of course, no one is looking at me, except my friends. My skin sweats and my hair frizzes, but my body delights nonetheless, and not an iota of insecurity weighs me down—I am in complete alignment with body and soul. It’s like being invisible, in the best way, yet at the same time, I am at peace with myself. As Martha Graham so eloquently stated: “We look at the dance to impart the sensation of living in an affirmation of life, to energize [. . .] into keener awareness of the vigor, the mystery, the humor, the variety, and the wonder of life.”