written by
Leah Patterson

Why are you dancing?

Dance 4 min read
Dance bliss <3

I thought a lot about what to write today. There are so many topics swirling in my mind at present, some based on experiences from times long past and others on things that have happened just yesterday. Life is rich with food for thought when we pay attention.

But what has continued to rise to the surface is this idea of why we dance. I'm specifically speaking from the perspective of a black woman in the world of latin dance. So this may be a share that resonates deeply with some and is solely educational for others. I'm ok with that :).

This topic has come up again in discussion in one of my beloved Facebook groups that I'm a member of. Another woman of color has decided to pack up and ship off her dance shoes due to frustration about not being seen in the dance world. Too many dance nights sitting on the sidelines and too many uncomfortable dances with slightly annoyed-looking leads, especially if she happens to be a beginner, are unfortunate common occurrences.

Many women of color attribute this to being of color - because their less-skilled latina and white girlfriends get dances way more often. Maybe it's the hair that swings ;)?

So this leaves them feeling like there is no place for them in the salsa and bachata dance world, even when this music has the very same roots that they have. And it makes them want to stop dancing.

So because this is my sacred space, I am going to share a secret. I have never danced for anyone else. Even when I have ached to dance with a partner, be it in a social dance or on stage, it's always been a mostly selfish endeavor. It's always been to express ME. To get what's in MY body and soul out in the open. It's always been to share what was moving through MY being.

And so that's why no one has ever been able to take dance away from me. No one has ever been able to make me disgusted with dance so much that I wanted to stop dancing.

Now I may have wanted to stop going out. And I may have wanted to take a break from the social aspects of the *dance scene*. I may have given up on certain dance career goals. But the dance?

No, not for any of those reasons ever, because it was never about anyone else. If I lost my inspiration, *that* was the reason I found myself taking a break from dance; because I couldn't find my spirit in the music and the movement at the moment. But it was always personal. Even within the partnership of this partner dance, it's always been personal.

So when my sisters speak about giving up the dance, I want to ask them, why are you dancing? Remember why you are dancing. I don't think you are dancing to only be a counterpart or part of a partnership. I do believe that you are dancing because YOU have something to express.

YOU can express that in the corner vibing through your own footwork fabulousness. YOU can express that by taking the lead to be the lead in the dance. YOU can express that through creating choreography or learning someone else's choreography.

The power, the energy, the magick - it's within YOU. It's not in the hands of whoever decides to grace you with their 3 or 4 minutes of time and creative collaboration on the dance floor.

And I am speaking from my 19 plus years of experience aspiring to the highest heights of this particular dance world as a woman of color. Professionally and socially, color has been a roadblock. Simple, silly things like my hair doesn't swing (because I wear it natural) have made a difference in my opportunities.

I could have let that steal the dance from me. I could have disappeared into the woodworks of *I used to dance, but gosh it's been 10 years*.

But dance is MINE. MY dance never belonged to any of those ones rationing out the opportunities. I can dance anywhere and there will always be a place where I will be embraced because that's another bit of the magick of dance. As much as the struggles of our "people-ness" can divide, dance itself innately connects.

So I want you to remember that the next time you feel yourself frustrated with your dance scene. Take your power back. Remember where it lies. Remember that dance is YOURS. YOU were drawn to this music and this dance because there is something in it that speaks to YOU, that I would even venture to say is healing you.

Do not give that away simply because you can't get dances.

Create your own dances. Be the magnet. Be the source. Do it with audaciousness and take up your rightful space. It's just waiting on you. <3


As always, I am here to help you do these things I encourage you to do. If you need that help, please reach out :). You can email me here.

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