written by
Leah Patterson

On Why I'm Not Going to Memphis - Probably

Dance 4 min read

I’ve been going to the Memphis salsa convention for 9 years. Today, this Timehop came across my screen and reminded me of this. And my indecision about whether to go this year or not popped up again. There are a lot of physically tangible reasons that it’ll be hard to make it this year. One, my finances are shaky. Extra money on food and fun isn’t really in the budget. Two, I’m moving this week. I have to be out of my old place by the end of this week and I want settling into my new place to be as beautiful and smooth of a transition as I envision it. The vision has been coming true, I have to say, and I am super happy about that. Like overjoyed :-D. Manifesting mojo I got *dusts shoulders off*.

But Memphis still looms. I’d love to say, oh it’s just a trip and I should go to have fun. But dancing at conventions is never just a trip. I’ve always said and I’ll continue to say that the salsa community is the microcosm of the macrocosm of the world. Every issue you have in real life, you will see played out in your salsa life.

And so for this convention, there are so many real life issues that are staring me in the face. One, there’s an entire crew of folks going from Little Rock that I’m not really a part of. I know on the surface why. I’ve pulled myself out of really trying here with the diehard salsa community. I’m still finding my balance with trying in a dance community. When I try, I apply way too much emotional pressure and for some reason, the dam breaks. Emotions flood all over everything and it tends to ruin my relationships.

This happened when I closed my dance studio. There were a series of emotional events with people who I thought were friends at the time that led to me imploding, tapping out and closing the studio. That was probably my 3rd attempt of trying to reengage here in Little Rock.

I keep reminding myself though that when I moved to Little Rock, I was fresh off a suicide attempt. Like a few months shy of deciding that death was finally my only option. So the emotional pressure of needing these people to act a certain way (though they had no idea I had that need because I faked by default back then) was real and huge.

And so as I worked through healing myself, just like it is for most people, a lot of that healing was etched out in my predominant community – the salsa community. Those were the people I saw on a regular bases and so those were the people that bore the brunt and the beauty of my process, unbeknownst to them.

And so fast forward to 9-years later Leah and though I know so much more, *because* I know so much more, I know how to pay attention to what I need. And I really think I need a little bit more time to forgive some things (of myself and others), heal some things and re-center myself.

A lot of people ask me why I don’t go out dancing to Club 27 that much. I usually brush it off with the laziness answer. Oh I’m just too lazy. And I used to mostly believe that, because when you’ve been dancing for almost 20 years, a scene where they barely dance on2 and on2 is your most primary love language, is going to be a stretch to find inspiration in.

The truth though, is that going out dancing hurts my soul a lot here. It’s a constant reminder of my (seeming) failings to 1. Belong, 2. Create, 3. Heal. And so it’s constant work to re-shift, re-imagine, and believe in renewal. And that’s why I say that salsa has been my most pivotal self-development, empowerment and growth tool. What hasn’t killed me in this scene (19 years of it) has truly made me stronger and wiser.

And so back to the convention. I think the Universe has set up a really good container to encourage not going or at the least going for just one day. And just to purely engage myself in my mojo-rising.

I *am* working on a piece. It’s a chachacha. It’s my answer to God speaking so clearly to me these past few months (I’m writing about it – Why I think God is Speaking to me Through ChaCha.) It’s my reclaiming of myself on purpose.

But it’s not ready.

And though this particular phrase coming is a very difficult one to integrate – I don’t owe anything to anyone.

Gosh, if we could all operate from there, how much freer and more real (and loving 😉) we all would be, right?

In any case, if I see you this weekend, I will love on you. I’ll do my best to not hide on default behind my smiles and let you really see the me you get to see through my writing. If I don’t see you this weekend, know it’s purposeful and I am just wading through the ethers of Leah, rising out of that mud, phoenix-lotus style <3. And dancing somewhere, if not there of course 😊. #dancingontheashes


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