I think I’ve finally figured this one out. Why do humans dance?
I’m pretty sure that it’s only humans. At least, after all the hours I’ve seen of wild animals doing their thing, none of them have ever gotten up and boogied. Of course, who knows what happens late on Saturday nights when all the cameras are gone, right? Maybe there are rabbit raves? After all, where do all those rabbits come from?
I’ve never been a good dancer, and I’ve never understood why people dance. As a nerd I can blame my computerish tendencies. I can also blame my lack of skill, balance, and coordination. As you can tell, I’m pretty good at rationalization. I can also blame the fact that I learned to dance in the 80s, when disco was big. That alone may have traumatized me.
But why do others like to dance? I could never figure this one out. Every now and then I’d ask someone, usually a dancing partner. At which point they would promptly dump me. I never did get a good answer.
Anyway, after all these years, I think I got it.
People dance as a way to show that they are in touch with nature, deep nature. That’s it.
What is deep nature? It’s the rhythms permeating our lives; rhythms that are so old and so deeply entwined in our being that words are inadequate. Deep nature is life itself, and death; deep nature is breath itself, and the beating heart. Deep nature is hunger, sleep, love, and fear.
You probably already knew this, most people do. Some of us don’t, and we stand at the wall wondering what all the undulating is about.
Dancing occurs in all cultures, to many different beats, in many different forms. It changes slowly between generations, because the beat of nature for your generation is slightly different than it was for mine. Your dancing reflects that.
More women dance than men in our culture; not surprising because women are more closely tied to nature. Do we need music? No, but it certainly helps, as music reminds us of the beating of natural rhythms, like our heart, the tides, seasons, or the sun and moon. Do we need a partner? Again, not really, but if dancing is about communicating our ability to feel nature, then a partner is required, for who else are we talking to? The more people the more the need to dance. The greater the celebration, such as a wedding or even funeral, the more need to dance.
So the next time I see the group get up and sway, I’ll do my best to join in. I may not feel the forces that they do, but at least I can try undulating a bit. I just wish my relatives wouldn’t laugh so much!