What fun!  Last night we went to a concert on the beach.  There was room for dancing.  I love to dance, but it is wonderful to watch, too. I have never gotten the same thrill from a scheduled dance performance as I have from serendipitous sightings of joyous and passionate dancing.

This music was a little bit country and the dancing heated up as the evening wore on.  Every sort, shape and style of dancer was there:  sexy fringed skirts with skintight tops; athletic shorts with T shirts; jeans with shirts, blouses, tank tops, halter tops; and children in all manner of dress dancing joyously with parents fondly watching.  The dancing was creative and all-inclusive with a preponderance of cowboy boots and line dancing in various degrees of skill but all manners of courage and enjoyment.  There was a wonderfully graceful man in his forties who gloried in his own twirling and arm waving.  He was not a bit ashamed of his “queeniness”.  A lean and spare older man danced with a young downs syndrome woman. A small man in his 50’s danced to his own music: break dancing, twisting, jiving and jitterbugging when he had a partner.

Then I saw a woman who brought tears to my eyes.  If my sister were alive I would have called out her name.  Amid all of the different styles, this woman could be easily spotted: red hat and cowboy boots, black circle skirt with white polka-dots, black mesh stockings, black lace long-sleeved blouse and red sparking vest.  She was happy and she was proud.  She danced, she twirled, she was partnered, she was solo, she was DANCING.

We stumbled into a wonderful taverna in Athens.  We arrived unfashionably early, which meant a lot of wine and retsina before the dancing began but also allowed us seats close to the dance floor.  As the night deepened and the crowd gathered, the delights of people watching were intensified.  Families joyously eating, drinking and waving their arms in description of stories; older women propelled around the dance floor by masterful husbands and lovers; and young men and women in their courtship dances both on and off the dance floor.  Suddenly the tone of the dancing changed.  Men went to the floor in small groups and stomped and glided through traditional dances.  The clapping friends and family at tables around us cheered them on.

Then a sturdy dark man took the floor.  The room was quiet as the music began in low rhythmic cadence of plucked strings.  I can’t tell you how it happened, but as his dance became more passionate and powerful, a woman was kneeling by the raised dance floor.  She was gazing at him and clapping with his steps.  He would dance to her and away, while all the time their eyes were locked. The music swelled.  He danced, she clapped, they gazed…Wow!  My heart is pumping just to remember.  Their shared intimacy drew all of us into the glory of them DANCING.

A friend and I wandered into a small neighborhood fair in Spain.  We enjoyed all of the treats of a street fair with potato chips frying, wine flowing, families feeding their children from booth to booth and music playing from all corners of the neighborhood.  Throughout the evening there were local groups performing on a makeshift stage.  The flamenco dance groups were of all ages and skill levels and were cheered on by the parents, friends and families of the performers.  It was local entertainment for the benefit of the local crowd.  Between acts, the music continued.

I can only compare this to watching a basketball game.  When the teams go to the locker rooms for half time, the children flock to the gym floor with basketballs.  This night, the children had only to jump onto the stage and begin the flamenco dance.  The music was there for them.  One small girl mesmerized me.  Probably four years old, she was past the toddler age but not school age.  Dressed in little purple pants and a ruffled tee shirt, she raised her arms, turned her head to the side, swiveled and wiggled her hips.  She was in her own world with  the passionate music of the Spanish guitar.  She easily sidestepped the clumsy toddlers and wended her way through the accomplished older children.  A miniature artist, she was in a trance of joy.  She was DANCING.

I was invited to a marimba concert in a school gymnasium in Southern Oregon.  I love the marimba.  The beat and the chiming tones of the music were contagious.  Everyone danced:  mothers with daughters, fathers with sons, fifth-grade classmates and groups of friends.  One woman was singular in her graceful movement.  She was older than I and lacked all self-consciousness.  She swayed, she circled, she closed her eyes in seeming ecstasy.  The small, wrinkled, joyous woman taught me something…it doesn’t matter…if you want to dance, DANCE!

I’ve had some wonderful times dancing.  I don’t forget the swelling chest and tingling fingers of dancing with the football hero in high school.  I have danced with my husband with romance and love to the songs of our youth and the beat of our lives.  I will hold one moment in my heart forever…

At my daughters wedding: the DJ had played the songs we had chosen, and we had fulfilled our social obligations to friends and loved ones.  The crowd was enjoying the party.  My entire family was on the deck.  We were dancing, watching and taking turns carrying our young granddaughter as a partner.  The music changed to “Into the Mystic”.  Van Morrison wailed and sang to our hearts.  In some grand union of thought we gathered into  a circle of movement, love and good will.  One or two of us would move the the center as we swayed and sang.  We rocked our gypsy souls.  We were DANCING.

I hope I can dance forever.



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