Charlotte discovers that intimacy is sometimes best found where there are no words – on the dance floor.
A couple of years ago I attended a talk for parents called, ‘Porn, the internet and young people’. After lots of gut-churning details about the way the industry dictates to us on so many levels, even if you don’t watch it, the speaker concluded her presentation with, “We need to make intimacy as magnetic as porn. That’s what’s going to change things for our young people. The only problem is – I don’t know how.”
I don’t know either. But ever since then, I’ve been tracking intimacy with my magnifying glass and it’s a tricky one – a bit like the word ‘soul’ – nebulous and simpler to say what it isn’t. Words can get in the way sometimes, which is why it’s easier to describe and amplify intimacy in a place where there are no words – on the dance floor – where the body does the talking.
Dancing with my eyes shut
The ‘consciousness movement dance floor’, where the only steps to follow are your own, is a place I discovered some fifteen years ago in Melbourne, then in the UK, Belgium and back in the Southern Hemisphere again. The book that led me there was written by New Yorker, Gabrielle Roth, who created the 5Rhythms. These days there are countless classes of conscious movement with different names and flavours: Movement Medicine, Soul Motion, Dancing Freedom, Open Floor – to name just a few.
For the first year, I danced in the corner with my eyes shut, which you’re not ‘meant’ to do (not conscious enough!). Thankfully I didn’t know this. I needed that year to get intimate with myself and it was way too distracting if my eyes were open. I was getting to know ‘ the soft animal of my body’ [Mary Oliver] and how I loved to move, without being under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
A dancing ‘high’
And then, I admit, once I’d discovered how light I felt when I was dancing, I used it in the same way I’d used drugs and alcohol in my youth – to get out of my head, to escape, and to connect with others in a different, edgier way. There’s a definite high to be had when you allow your body to be collected by the music so your mind can’t keep up and you dance yourself into a trance.
For years, I danced weekly, the same dance of release, the build-up, the glorious peak and the fun slide down the other side into a satisfied collapse. When the facilitator invited us to move with a partner or in a group, I felt like I was learning a new language: unsure and fumbling – but alive. It was up to me and the partner if our bodies touched. Sometimes they did and sometimes they didn’t. These were the initial baby steps towards intimacy with another.
The giant step came during my first weekend workshop, which was an intense learning curve where my mindful witness sprang into being, in awe and in judgment of my dancing self and how she could be in the moment, brimming over with life force. Mostly though, I was witness to and in the experience of love. In love with self and others.
Dancing bodies held in safety by an experienced facilitator, create a field of love. It sounds so hippy to wax lyrical about a love bubble but there’s no other way around it. A weekend love bubble of music, movement, and connecting with a group of people who are ‘ all in this together’ [Ben Lee]. So many opportunities for intimacy and meaning, both solo and with others – familiar, cosy, close.
Key ingredients of intimacy
As the years have gone by, I’ve become adept at throwing off my armour as soon as I hit the dance floor, so that presence, expression, and connection come easily. And I’ve discovered that the three key ingredients to intimacy, whether moving mindfully, or not, are as relevant on the dance floor as they are off it.
The body is as much a part of the conversation as the mind, with all cells firing, moving and alive in the moment.
We allow ourselves to be seen without the usual armour; we are naked without our defences and this is where intimacy thrives.
Whether we’re connecting with ourselves or another, we need to feel like an honest, open-hearted connection has been made, which means listening.
Mark Nepo’s description of listening is the best I’ve heard yet: “To listen is to lean in, softly, with a willingness to be changed by what we hear.”
By giving our attention to what is before us, completely and freshly we can co-create a portal with another, or a space inside ourselves if we’re dancing alone, where all sorts of magic arises, if we allow ourselves to move and express ourselves freely. Not the kind of top-hat-surprise!-it’s-a-bunny kind of magic but the edgy, unknown feeling that arises from participating completely in the present. There’s no knowing what’s going to happen next, or what my body is going to do next, or my partner, or the music. There’s no time or space for judgements or narratives (yes, they may come later, but later is later), only for being, right here, right now, in intimacy with the self or with another.
This for me, is much more exciting than anything I might happen across on screen. As for the young ones, who am I to say? But my wish is that they experience many moments of intimacy, full of presence, expression and listening.
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