A recent article in ”The Book of Life”* says dancing like an idiot shouldn’t be a risk: it’s the point!
Dancing is one of the most essential and feel-good activities we humans take part in. Moving our bodies to the rhythm, losing ourselves in the music, even flailing wildly about: dancing has been widely accepted as an important contributor to both our physical health and our mental wellbeing.
The Ancient Greeks understood the importance of balancing the life of the rational mind and disciplined wisdom with artistic expression and dancing. They held regular night-long festivals of unrestrained, ecstatic dancing, no doubt irrigated by generous amounts of wine.
In this context, the word “ecstatic” is telling. From the Latin “ex” (meaning apart) and “stasis” (meaning standing), it indicates a state in which we symbolically stand apart from our complicated, self-centred identities and reconnect with our common human nature. Through ecstatic dancing, we remember what it’s like to be part of something larger than ourselves, to forget about our own egos, loneliness and isolation, and be reunited with humanity.
Why then are so many of us reluctant or afraid to let go and have a dance? You know the feeling: awkwardly standing to the side, appalled that you might be called to join in, making excuses the moment the music starts. It’s because we fear “looking like an idiot” in front of people whose opinion might matter.
The point, however, is that it’s not necessary to learn to dance like an expert, or to look cool, young and stylish. It is, rather, about throwing off our customary shyness and reserve and fully embracing the chance to look like complete idiots – the bigger the better, in the company of hundreds of other equally and publically idiotic fellow humans.
Through dancing, we see how we might more regularly feel and be vulnerable in front of other people in order to become better friends to ourselves and more generous and compassionate to others. We should reclaim the ecstatic dance and uninhibited boogie woogie for their deepest universal purposes: to reconnect, reassure and reunite us.
So turn up the music and have a go!