Sunday, 9 April 2017

No sweat (I wish)!

I was at a dance last night, and it was fun, as it always is. Unfortunately, there's something that has been happening since I started dancing, and it happened again last night.

The evening started with a lesson, in which some of us learned a few new moves. As usual, I couldn't pick them up very quickly, but I started to get them towards the end of the lesson, only to forget them once I started asking the ladies to dance.

During the lesson, someone noticed that I'd started to perspire. I'd felt it myself before she'd noticed, but she confirmed what I'd felt. After the lesson, I noticed that a small patch on my shirt had become noticeably damper and darker than the rest of the shirt. For a while, after the class, I was approached by various ladies I'd met at these dances before. I prefer to take a break between dances, but I also have a rule that I never refuse a dance. The damp, dark patch on my shirt spread outwards, and my face became noticeably more wet as the evening wore on.

Why do I need to take breaks between dances? Why do I sweat so much? I remember the Christmas party in early December, where I made the mistake of wearing a Christmas jumper and not bringing a change of clothing, and I paid dearly for that mistake. A few ladies said that I looked hot, and I jokingly thanked them and told them they didn't look so bad themselves. Obviously, in that case, I suffered due to my own lack of foresight, but I still perspire heavily whenever I dance, even in the lessons.

I received a big clue as to why this happens, back when I was still doing modern jive. Someone was watching the other men dance, as he was trying to learn the style, and he later told me that he could understand what was going on when he saw the other men dancing, but when he watched me, he didn't understand.

All of us have our own way of moving. I know this from the many years I spent learning various martial arts. Although an instructor teaches us a specific way of moving, there will be a point where we take ownership of the movements we've learned, and they become ours through the modifications we make so that the movements feel more natural to us. This is how we get to the point where we can perform the movements with little conscious thought.

In my case, it was my early exposure to various Japanese martial arts in particular that would go on to affect how I learn movement and think about movement. Imagine the explosive speed and power which is seen as the ideal in the martial arts I'm talking about, but imagine it being expressed through the medium of dance. Imagine having to do that for three or four minutes at a time, repeatedly. Imagine that you're having to perform movements which are bigger, and not as efficient or direct as those you learn as a martial artist, yet you are so used to putting a certain kind of energy into your movements that you struggle to turn it off.

I'd considered that I was just getting old; I'd considered that I might be unfit; I'd considered many other possibilities. The bottom line, actually, is that I'm putting a lot more energy into dancing than is necessary.

The question is whether I'm able to change the way I've been moving for most of my life. The only way I'll find out is to keep dancing. I'm okay with that.

Lost in Translation

For a long time, I considered that I didn't have a favourite film. During my teenage years, and into my early twenties, one of the TV stations here in the UK would regularly broadcast foreign language films late at night. Occasionally, I'd watch one that I would connect with in some way: some feeling expressed chimed with something within me.

That brings me to Lost in Translation. It's my favourite film to watch late at night, without a doubt, and I once told a friend as much. Her reply was that the film has a very specific feeling to it, and she wondered if I could put that feeling into words. I couldn't.

The story is essentially about an affair of sorts, between a man who is of a greater age than the object of his affection, and that younger woman who seems to feel the same way about him. I struggled with this, because I wondered what connecting with this subject matter said about me, but I realised that it was something beneath the surface of the narrative that spoke so clearly to me. It was, as my friend had highlighted, all about the specific feeling of the film.

It's no accident that the story is set in Japan, and that much is made of the American leads coming to terms with being somewhere that is strange to them. In fact, it's the young woman who seems more familiar and at ease with being there, in contrast to the middle aged gentleman who is not just feeling uncomfortable with where he is in terms of geography, but also seems to be feeling a great deal of difficulty with where he is in life at this time. However, there is a point where she contacts a member of her family by phone and breaks down while talking to them, while they seem to be ignorant of how she feels, or at least show little empathy for her.

To me, the film is about yearning for a sense that we are loved, and that there is somewhere we feel we belong. In response to my friend's question about the feeling of the film, I'd say it's about feeling isolated, out of place, and finding that one person who understands and relates to you. Why is it my favourite film to watch late at night? I'll leave you to join most of those dots for yourself.