Before I went to my first rave, I did not really dance. As a child I danced all the time. There are analog videos of me dancing to rock’n’roll, just bashing my head around and spinning. Years later while babysitting my cousins I would seem them dance in a similar way, unabashedly, so alive and vibrant. Somewhere along the way, I forgot how to dance, I took my dancing shoes and buried them in the deep recesses of my mind, forgetting the childhood wonder that I could get from simply moving my feet to a beat. Sure, I slow-danced at school dances, and I did all the dancing that were culturally proper for the time (joke dance moves like “the shopping cart” and later the infamous “grind”), but that dancing lacked feeling or individuality.
Then the 11th grade came and I was at my first rave. I watched in awe as all the people who were beautifully dressed in rainbows and beads twirled around and danced in their own unique way. Most of these people did not sit and watch youtube videos like I would later. Instead they saw other people dancing, and learned how to dance by example, thereby incorporating their own style into their dancing. There were glowsticks flying around, LED light shows being given. I was hooked. My first rave did not teach me how to dance, it reminded me that I could. I had never felt such reaffirming love before. So I taught myself first how to shuffle (which I am still extremely bad at), followed by how to x-step, which has become the style of dance I love the most because it’s high energy and I added my own flair to it, what ravers in Toronto call “rinsing”. Learning to dance to drum and bass allowed me to start expressing myself the way I wanted to express myself. It was the doorway which I chose to walk through.
From learning to dance, I also started to learn about its performative aspects. Since dance exists in the physical world where people can gawk and stare, dancing itself inherently creates a spectacle. The dance culture I ended up joining was all about spectacle. The lights, the outfits, the children’s clothes, all lent themselves to creating something that was strange and unique. From learning to dance, I also picked up performing for others ie light shows. Disclaimer: I love LED’s . The way they light up and add impact to dancing is unparalleled. Every prop (a tool used to show your dancing abilities, ie a staff, juggling balls etc.) I have contains an LED in some form. The way the light moves trails through the air, the transience of the lights position enthrall me in such a way that I might need to write a short blurb about the beauty of transience at some point. From x-stepping, I learned to liquid, and how to glove (this is a rough light show I did last year), and now I’m learning how to spin poi (that’s not me, just my virtual mentor).
Dancing is catharsis, it is emotive release, primarily dancing is living in the moment, and being attentive to it. Whenever I am upset about life, or things going on in the world, I immediately rush for outside to spin poi, or dance.
Whenever people tell me “Oh I can’t dance” I always tell them that that is untrue. Everyone can dance. Not everyone can dance a particular style or be extremely methodical, but everyone can dance. To dance is simply to accept everything that is going on, to hear a beat and bob your head, tap your foot, move your body. Anytime you lose yourself in a song, enraptured by the music that is playing through your speakers, you are dancing. Learning to add dance to your life will leave you more inspired than you were before, no matter what form of dancing that takes.