The Election Brings Dance to the Streets for a Collective Roar
As quickly as I landed on the sidewalk in Brooklyn after operating throughout the Williamsburg Bridge on Saturday morning, I knew what had occurred. Nevertheless it wasn’t due to what I immediately heard: a symphony of honks and cheers. It was due to what I noticed. Dancing. Everybody was dancing.
In celebration of the victory of Joseph R. Biden Jr., New York Metropolis — and so many different cities throughout the nation — discovered its groove. From that shimmering, unseasonably heat morning till nicely after darkish, vehicles grew to become boomboxes. Line dances sprouted up from nowhere. There have been duets between strangers. Drivers, catching a bystander’s eye, turned up the music to encourage a second of free-spirited improvisation. (It was a window down form of day.)
The previous few years have been exhausting. And if you issue up to now eight months of coronavirus lockdown, protests on the street and the election, many Individuals are tightly wound. It felt proper that collective stress, sleepless nights, frustration and concern would spill out of our bodies and into the streets. And that it was real mentioned one thing, too. This wasn’t a performative response, however a intestine response — a approach to specific churning feelings, most conspicuously pleasure, when phrases alone couldn’t do the trick.
After all, in a rustic so divided, just some individuals had been dancing within the streets. However on either side of the aisle, dancing saved popping up throughout this election, in unusual but illuminating methods. Kamala Harris’s dancing became a meme, celebrated by supporters however ridiculed by critics. That was unusual, too — she’s such an unaffected, easy dancer. Writing in The Wall Avenue Journal, Peggy Noonan, the previous Ronald Reagan speechwriter, known as Ms. Harris “giddy” on the marketing campaign path.
“She’s dancing with drum strains and starting rallies with ‘Wassup, Florida!,’” Ms. Noonan wrote, including: “She’s going for a Joyful Warrior vibe, however she’s coming throughout as insubstantial, frivolous. When she began to bop within the rain onstage, in Jacksonville, Fla., to Mary J. Blige’s ‘Work That,’ it was embarrassing.”
Ms. Harris, please, by no means cease dancing.
Like everybody, I watched President Trump’s awkward dance strikes — they went viral and impressed a TikTok problem. However when he rocked backwards and forwards to the Village Folks’s “YMCA,” fists clenched and lips firmly sealed, the emotion it impressed was dismay. I often love a dad dance, good or unhealthy. There’s one thing unbelievably tender about watching an individual give dancing a whirl when it doesn’t come naturally. It’s courageous.
However Mr. Trump’s frat-house strikes remind us of how uncomfortable he appears to be in his physique. Awkward is one factor; his inflexible dancing had no spirit. It didn’t carry him to life in a brand new means.
Over the weekend, fragments of Kevin Bacon’s speech from “Footloose” (1984) began to play in a loop in my mind. Pleading to carry a dance in a small city that forbids it, he addresses the query of why, all through time, individuals have danced: “They danced in prayer or in order that their crops could be plentiful or so their hunt could be good. They usually danced to remain bodily match and present their group spirit. They usually danced to have a good time. And that, that’s the dancing that we’re speaking about.”
It’s not frivolous. Final weekend, the explosion of dance — which overtook social media, making it appear to be it was occurring all over the place — was a celebration of group. However for these of us within the dance world it emphasised one other level: Whereas the pandemic will proceed to forestall public performances for what now appears to be one other yr or so, dance continues to be alive on the earth. It’s making headlines, as a lot for what it appears like as what it looks like. Dancing is not only about transferring your physique, however reclaiming it — and with that, your religion on the earth.
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