What is hiding beneath your dance addiction?
Everynight in the heart of Sydney you will find 100’s of the most unlikely people finishing up their day and getting ready for their ‘second life.’ They race from work, sit in peak hour traffic, and rush into their latin dance class still dressed as a corporate. Within the first half an hour of class their daytime persona has all but sweated off. Their hips swing wildly to the beats of salsa, bachata, kizomba and tango. Their smiles reach their ears, and the stresses of the day perspire away as the night goes on. 9.30pm hits, and they make their way back out into the city streets. Within the next half an hour many will return to their homes and families, wind down and go to bed, ready to do it all again tomorrow. Many however, will not.
Many will now become their third persona, the dance addict. The dance addict will exude a new confidence and fullness which would leave them barely recognisable to their day time colleagues. These dance adicts head out to the many latin dance clubs, parties and socials spinning in Sydney until early hours of the morning. A new level of delirious, tired, and refreshed happiness takes hold as they mingle with new people and good friends, and dance to their favorite DJ. At this stage the dance addict has no other thoughts, they are completely absorbed in the dance and the experience of connecting with themselves and others. The dopamine spikes in their body and sends them spinning until the early hours of the morning.
These Salsa heads, Bachateros or Kizombies are all classic examples of the dance addict. They travel to foreign countries, invest thousands of hours and dollars into their habit every year, and whenever they can get that dance hit, they will. You will find them dancing in the kitchen, in the shopping centre, at work, and of course on any available dance floor.
At special times of the year when festivals come around, these dance addicts morph into their fourth persona- they band together and become a kind of delirious, superhuman dance cartel. This is when a group of dance addicts join forces at a festival, stay out every night until the wee hours of the morning, eat breakfast at maccas, sleep an hour or maybe two, get up early attend the workshops and the afternoon pool party, and do it all again... For 4 days straight! They rely on the energy and encouragement of their fellow dance addicts, the hypnotic beats of the DJ and probably some form of alcohol fuel to remain in the dance cartel for the full run of the festival.
How do I know so much about this phenomenon? I have spent most of my life as a dance addict.
Of any addiction to have, I definitely think this is a fantastic one to endorse. And I would say it has definitely steered myself and many other people of other paths which would not have been as fun and rich with lessons.
Recently though, I have felt that my social dancing hit was not giving me the same effect. For some reason I wasn’t feeling the same joy or the same crazy need to be constantly out dancing all night. I have way less stamina, and just the thought of doing a festival like that makes me want to stay in bed.
When I first noticed my symptoms I thought, surely this must be withdrawal? Life has been very busy and I haven't had the time for social dancing, so surely these feelings are just withdrawal, and when I feed my addiction again it will feel as per normal.
This was not the case. A few clues from the universe showed me that I seemed to have overlooked a very important part of my dance journey, and that my supposedly therapeutic dance addiction had actually been masking a very important truth. Dance alone is not always a therapy.
Don’t get me wrong. I am the strongest believer in the incredible transformational and healing power of dance and movement. It is what I dedicate my life to. So imagine my shock when I just wasn’t feeling it anymore. Then I realised my lesson.
I have had a dance addiction since age 3. My dedication to training took me off some potentially dark paths. Dance became my escape bubble, my place to feel happy, confident, sexy, creative and full. In times where I couldn't dance because of injury or sickness I felt I had lost access to my biggest source of personal power and joy. As a result I tried to be constantly moving and dancing to keep connection with this source. I became immersed in the social dance world and found the perfect way to be social without having to actually have to talk to people and confront any social anxiety I may have had. I would dance every night, and train every day, and as I did so I feel I learned powerful lessons about myself and life, and also met some incredible people.
However, at a point, this was not fulfilling any more. I realised whilst I was expressing myself, I was releasing emotion through movement, I was in a way meditating and being present, and having a lot of fun in the process. I wasn’t necessarily transforming anything. And in times without dance, I felt that my better self had somehow slipped away. I realised I had used dance as my crutch for too long, and that without it I could not feel my higher self. I tuned out my intuition many times as it prodded me to stay still for a minute and heal some wounds which needed desperate attention. I let the addiction become my favourite distraction.
The thing about addictions is that no matter how positive they may seem, we are still addicted!. We think that we need the thing we are addicted to. Our ego clings and grasps at that thing until it becomes a part of our identity, our personality. If you weren't a dance addict who would you be? If you couldn't go social dancing anymore, what would you do? How else can you connect to all of the wonderfulness you feel in the middle of a great dance? How can you access that state for as many waking moments you have in a day, not just inside a 3 minute Kizomba bubble? This is the bigger question. Once we start to use dance as our catalyst to further enquiry and self discovery, the limitlessness of ourselves can finally bloom.
When I found Kizomba, and met the incredible people I have on the kizomba path, my addiction to Kizomba intensified, and then it MORPHED, in the most incredible way.
Dancing so close to someone, you share your escape bubble with them. I realised within this bubble there is the potential to create a bubble of universal love and non judgement with the person you are connecting with and with yourself. In all of my dance practice I started to ritualise what I was doing and set intentions. I learnt powerful gratitude exercises and forgiveness exercises which I try to practice in conjunction with my dance. I learned shamanic dance work and dancing meditation. All of these are just tools, leading to the same point of DANCE AS TRANSFORMATION. All of the energy we generate in our own bodies, and also share with the other person, can be directed to healing and transformation if we do so consciously. This can happen alone or with a partner and in any style.
Our body is intelligent beyond comprehension, and when we set it free and return it to its natural, powerful, uninhibited state through movement, and combine this with intention, love,and forgiveness the transformational benefits you will see in your life are beyond addictive.
Each of us has been drawn to dance for a reason. If you see yourself as a dance addict, know that you already have access to an exceptional tool. Staying still long enough to listen to where the dance wants you to go can be more powerful than any bender festival experience. If you feel your mojo or your love for social dancing start to wane, don’t throw in the towel. Set intentions for yourself when you dance, and notice the difference, share your experiences with others. You never know anyone’s story, or how they came to be on the same dance floor as you. You may have the pearl of wisdom they are searching for. There is a huge courage in sitting still, and being Ok with silence. Listen to the space between the bars, the pauses between your turns, and see what else is hiding there. What is hiding beneath your dance addiction?
FB: Genevieve rogan dancer/ teacher / writer