As I lie awake reflecting on the first of a string of band performances, my mind drifts to the first group of people I invited to the shows, a group I love playing for: Social dancers. A number of dancers came out to this first show, and throughout the performance and afterwards I found myself wondering, Are the dancers having a good time? Is the music too loud? Is the floor okay? Here and there a couple folks commented that the music was loud and the floor a bit sticky. Other feedback was good; the music was good and the dances were fun. I listened closely and catalogued the different feedback I got that night. Now in the wee hours of the coming morning I ask myself, Was it worth it? Are these shows a good thing to invite dancers to? And even with my feelings of caution, I find the answer is still clearly: Yes! And here's why...
My dear dance community: You complete me.
I mean that in a few different ways. Most simply and personally for me, I love to play for social dancers. As my good friend and fellow musician Jake Nannery said after the show, "Playing is always better when people are dancing." As a musician, it's simply inspiring. Being around people dancing to our music makes me play better, makes me feel musical.
Aside from that enjoyment, there’s also something that happens when musicians and dancers get together in unusual contexts and bring music out into the world: The world is filled with more dancing!
As an artist, my music focuses on integrating the power of dance into everyday life. You might quite easily hear this message in my songs “Throw A Revolution” and “Seven Dances (To Save The World).” This spirit of integrating dance into life comes out in my sets at dance venues, but perhaps more poignantly and significantly, it comes out in my sets in music venues and other places (farmers markets, art walks, special events). The music and dancing that happens at these events feels significant because I believe these places and the people in them need dance -- they need to see it, they need to feel it, and in some way they need to do it.
I believe people can get caught in the limited feelings and narrow routine of everyday life, and often dancing is not a part of that. When they see dance and feel the joy it brings, it makes an impression. I can't tell you how many listeners, fans, musicians, venue personnel, passers by, and more have commented at my shows about how unusual and cool the partner dancing is. My hope that the experience is seeing our music and dancing somehow frees those individuals up to dance more in their own lives.
And to me, sharing that experience of music being answered by dancing matters.
So, I am more proud than ever to help create instances of music and partner dance in unusual places in our city. I am also learning more with every show about how to support better dance experiences in these new places. If you come down to one of our three remaining February shows at High Dive, I recommend: bring earplugs or use the free ones we’ll have, be careful with each other on the floor as it can be sticky, and be ready to explore some new tempos and feels if you dance to every song.
Our next performance is this Thursday, 2/12, at the High Dive in Fremont at 8:30 sharp (come early!). Our set wraps up around 9:15, and we’re followed by a DJ and more live, often danceable, funk music. Info and RSVP here.
So take good care as dancers, and I invite you to continue bringing dance out into the community. You might have fun and make the world a little bit better place at the same time. And if you come out, don't be surprised if I'm happy to see you and ask how your experience was. Because my Dear Dance Community: You Complete Me!