Why Men Can't Dance

It’s not our fault!

Guys, the deck has been stacked against us. 

OK. Not all men. Maybe just me, and those of you with similar backgrounds and upbringings: White, North American, marginal parenting, maybe a little religion sprinkled in, with a strong emphasis on sports and machismo and little on arts and of course none on dance except to diss it.  

All of which amounts to not only shaming or discouraging dance but a conflicted relationship with our bodies generally. 

Good news! 

The important point to note, before we go any further, is that having two left feet is actually not a physical deformity or learning disability or genetic deficiency. It is a consequence of our socialization.

We CAN unlearn our “anti-dance” orientation and reclaim our instinctive, God-given ability to move rhythmically!

This process of making friends with your body is life engendering and invigorating. And your partner will love you for it. 

Warning: It takes a lot of time and effort and can be deeply humiliating. Leave your ego at home unless you want it trampled on the dance floor.

OK. Back to our deficient socialization and how to reprogram it.

Step #1

Check out other cultures and traditions who have more subtle, responsive expressive ways of being in their bodies. The following is an intriguing account of a Rwandan survivor of the genocide talking to a western writer, Andrew Solomon, about his experience with western mental health and depression:

“We had a lot of trouble with western mental health workers who came here immediately after the genocide and we had to ask some from them to leave. They came and their practice did not involve being outside in the sun where you begin to feel better, there was no music or drumming to get your blood flowing again, there was no sense that everyone had taken the day off so that the entire community could come together to lift you up and bring your back to joy, there was no acknowledgement of the depression as something invasive and external that could actually be cast out again. Instead they would take people one at a time into these dingy little rooms and have them sit around for an hour or so and talk about bad things that had happened to them. We had to ask them to leave.” (Taken from www.underthebluedoor.org)

Get the point? 

Health and healing is a whole body experience channelled through music and dance in every layer of community and culture. It is not that some people are born with rhythm  and others aren’t, anymore that one is born instinctively speaking a particular language. These are learned skills.

More discussion to follow about how us left-footed guys can learn how to get some jiggy in it. Stay with me.

(Photo credit: ADV. A peace rose in our garden. “Many of our social ills are directly related to our loss of appreciation for beauty.” John O’donohue. )