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Columns > Lee Abraham

Published: 2001/10/18
by Lee Abraham

Points on a Line Revisited

Author’s Note: This month’s column is a blast from the past that I hope you’ll enjoy… look for a brand new Points On A Line column next month!

Dancing: Vortex for Individual Transcendence is Madness to People Who Can’t Hear the Music

I love to dance. Always have. And I know I’m not alone. When asked about their favorite physical activity, most folks rate dancing second, right after sex. A distant second mind you, but second nonetheless. Of course there’s a lot of people who either can’t dance or flat out refuse to try. Some folks just don’t have any rhythm. Others let insecurity and fear of looking stupid keep their butts glued to the bar stool.

Yet another faction of the non-dancing population simply prefers to watch the greatest show on earth – other people dancing. Dancing is a weird thing. Going back in time, most social dancing involved a man and woman, facing each other, touching, or better yet, in an embrace.

Somewhere along the line, right around the time rock and roll blew its hot and sweaty breath of fresh air up America’s miniskirt, the touching thing went by the wayside. Sure, dancing was still an activity for couples, but it had become more of a Chubby Checker shake-it-in-the-general-direction-of-your-partner twist than an Arthur Murray cheek-to-cheek-belly-to-belly waltz.

Then came the psychedelic ’60s and the ‘Summer of Love.’ No longer restricted to just pre-conjugal foreplay in the male/female dynamic, dancing in public as an individual entered the public consciousness for the first time in American culture. Rather than face someone of the opposite sex while dancing, grooving shoulder to shoulder and facing the band became increasingly common.

Thanks in a large part to the relatively new mass media known as Television, wiggling and gyrating to high volume electric guitars and synthesized keyboards quickly became legitimized in the consciousness of mainstream society. Not only was ‘hippie dancing’ portrayed as a new symbol of American counterculture, it was in fact, romanticized by the media. Seemingly overnight, it had become cool to get into the music so much that it made your body move. Something to do with freedom… something to do with spirituality.

I picked up most of my favorite dance moves at Dead shows back in the late ’70s. What a great feeling it was to be in the middle of so many people, all seemingly on the same ‘ain’t this bliss,’ wavelength, dancing in their own individual way. From the spinners at the back of the dance floor to all the red eyed and smiling groovemeisters shaking with their bones with abandon throughout the arena, everybody had their own way of expressing themselves.

Dance, like the music of the day, was all about finding another reality, another dimension of the human experience… as an individual among a community of like minded folks.

The ability to lose myself in the music, to give my brain the night off and let my body interpret the music has been a source of joy and transcendence ever since my first Dead show back in ’78. For me, nothing captures the moment more effectively or profoundly… dancing simply enables me to experience the music, and life itself for that matter, as it drips through time, as opposed to just observing or cognitively appreciating it from a barstool.

Dancing is an X-factor element in the alchemy of the human condition. It can transform the rust and tarnish of day to day reality into a golden vision of possibility, wonder and enlightenment. I’m not saying that every time I dance, I have visions of nirvana or new insight into the inner workings of the universe… sometimes, but not every time.

What I am saying though, is that dancing is not only a lot of fun, (it’s almost impossible not to have a good time when you’re dancing), but more than that, dancing is an opportunity to make magic in an otherwise mundane world. Very few of us have the talent to create the music, but we all have the ability to tap into its power. Anytime, anywhere. Walk in light, sing in darkness, dance whenever you can…

Lee Abraham is a freelance writer/photographer currently on assignment in Ocean Beach, California. Check out his ‘Adventures In Music Journalism’ website at mrlee.com or contact him directly at mrlee@jambands.com

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