*This seems to be the second in what may become a series of posts about dance*
If you’ve met me in the past few years, you know the question ‘where are you from?’ always brings a pause. Who’s asking? If you’re a dancer, I may say Boston because that’s where I truly came to know and love dance. If I’m abroad I may say New York because it’s well-known. If I’m at a club, I may say Atlanta because it matches my dance style. if I’m a foreigner in mixed company, I may just say The States because my accent and mannerisms give it away, yet more detail is unnecessary. And now, recently, I’ve had to add – I live in North Carolina – creating a distinction in the verb of that answer.
My preferred default answer is “I am a citizen of the world.” The past few years have brought me incredible joy as I have been able to travel all around, but also stress, loneliness and isolation from communities that I have loved and desired to know better. The constant moving and perpetual rehabilitation into new cities can get exhausting and at times has left me immobilized in whatever swelling I am lucky to have at that moment.
One of the best ways I have kept myself from falling apart into all the different identities that add to my mosaic is through dance. I know I can google or ask around for any of the major Afro-Latin dance forms – salsa, bachata, kizomba, zouk – and jump into a community of like-minded passionate people who are down to receiving new folks always, new blood, new dances and influences. When the rest of the day feels hard, an easy place like the dance floor feels like God’s small cushion for me to rest my head. I don’t have to worry about what my name is, where I’m from (not always at least), what I do. I know I can dance and I know people are there to dance. If that’s my base, I can take it from there.
And it often goes from there. The connections on the dance floor don’t have to stop there. As time goes on and you see people again and again, you find new points of connection, shared friends and community, and it always surprises me how interconnected and global the dance world is. You go from the dance floor, to house parties, to dinner events, to trips around the world, to meeting each other in new places for more festivals. It’s a community that is always moving and for someone like me that is such a relief.