How I Learned to Dance

Clear Lake sunsetI attended Bonnie Hayes’s show at Sweetwater in Mill Valley a week ago, and when the band played one of her songs particularly well I experienced something about my action that I think will inspire me for awhile. She’s a teacher, yet most people in the hall were not even moving–they didn’t know how to find their feet in what she played, I guess.

At least one person expressed some resentment over the way my dancing intruded in his personal space.

I saw Bunny Wailer in Santa Rosa some years back, and he remarked on the number of people who were sitting down watching him perform, outdoors in the concert enclosure. He said, “going to a reggae concert and watching the band is like going to a gym and watching people work out–it’s not really where it’s at.” Bunny Wailer was also a teacher, and he knew it.

I had to find a way to go on feeling right through the judgement, when the gentleman complained about his personal space being invaded–his judgement and mine. It’s very scary, when you love someone like that, find the spirit of friendliness and realize there’s no choice of action, but only feeling, in the face of anger. That’s what I see when I look at the films of the civil rights movement, individuals who were trained in non-violence, in a situation where they had no choice of action, but only feeling.

As to what it was that inspired me, it was that when I relax as I breathe, I open my ability to feel my body “with no part left out”, and to become “drenched” with ease (as my sense of gravity enters in). Having feeling that is engendered in real time by relaxation, sensing ease anywhere I feel with the experience of gravity–in this way, I came to feel ease drenching the exact place where my undirected mind found itself to be, in three-dimensional space.

I should add that I learned to dance in San Francisco, at Mabuhay Gardens in the late seventies and early eighties. There, when people crowded the dance floor in front of a band to watch, folks would often take the most subversive of actions from the dance floor behind, shoving a friend or companion into the spectators. As this continued, the spectators would generally push back, and soon there would be random bodies flying near the front of the hall. The space in front of the band would gradually open up, allowing for a more direct feedback between the band and the dancers.

Being in the midst of a “soft-slam” is a most excellent time to realize no choice of action, to adhere to the extension of the spirit of friendliness, and to discover feeling and gravity in the breath I’ve been given that moves my body around the place where I am.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *