Are We Dancing?

February 15, 2018

Who’d have thought it! Twizzles! Yep, me and Nicola going to Twizzles dance studio one a week squeezed between our drum journey circles. It certainly took me by surprise.

Stepping our way around a dance floor where even I considerably lowered the average age of the gathered folk was not my dream way to spend an evening. Nicola was bought in from the beginning and came back from her solo lessons with tales of new friends, new agility and a new dance partner. Now, how much Eddie had to do with my deciding to take up the class is a moot point, but sign up I did. And it seems my reasons for dancing were quite worthy after all. We had a community to weave together, I had been welcomed into Nicola’s family and we wanted to integrate deeper. Mr and Mrs Riley are dancers, so what better way to get to know her parents than on the dance floor! Too, Nicola and I have a busy work life and doing something physical together would be fun. Also, am I getting to that age where I need to flex my mental ability in order to keep it keen?

A tea-dance with the in-laws.

The months rolled by and I continued to cajole my two left feet in the desired direction with a very forgiving Nicola in tow until we had to step up our game. We had an invite. A tea dance with the in-laws. I would be expected to dance in a community centre with a group of aging folk I’d never met before. This was when it all began to come together, and I’m not talking about my dance steps.

Nervously I crept across the dance floor which was bordered by folk wearing their Sunday best and wide smiles, and headed to a dark corner in the hope I’d be forgotten. But of course that wasn’t going to happen. The music began and the wooden floor soon resounded to the steady beat of feet. Feet doing the same thing, more or less. Feet that flowed across the boards with camaraderie and a deep sense of community. Nicola and I found our swing and the days of anxiously watching ourselves on phone videos, repeatedly making the same mistakes (mine) and finally feeling that sense of accomplishment when somehow it works all paid off and we were in the circle.

A sense of ritual.

There was a terrific sense of ritual here. The rhythmic sway of bodies, the twirl of shoulders, swirl of dresses and manly marches. There was a friendship buzz that was unbounded by age, status or voting decisions – dancing was the glue of clan. I got it at last! Here were mature ladies and gentlemen exercising, having fun, using their brains and at the same time forging bonds, casting a circle with their bodies and reliving age-old ceremonies.

My footwork was not by any means fancy, more of a measured walk with me counting time (sometimes outloud!) as I stiffly followed the leaders however I was embraced by all. Nicola floated serenely, flowing sexily from sequence to sequence whilst trying to avoid my clumping huge feet. I committed again to mastering this, and becoming the dance partner who could fulfil this desire of my beloved.

During that long weekend in Kent we attended 3 dances, all in small halls with Nicola always halving the average age but it became fun. There was a depth of understanding and tolerance that I had not often witnessed anywhere. To be honest it was beyond tolerance, my dancing fails were embraced by the clan as they worked hard to right my steps with patient smiles and encouraging words.


I came to see that we, as a world, miss dance. We are all the worse for no longer doing it often. I remember in my christian days one of my favourite films was Footloose which told the story of a religiously repressed young man who discovered dance and stood against the patriarchal regime of his father’s laws and well, danced. Folk I knew, in the same religious fold as me, did not dance. We were told it would lead to all manner of sins of the flesh. Touching each other! Swaying rhythmically to music. Touching! Getting excited, having fun. Finding joy. Being the authors and curators of our own pleasures? Could that be the way to freedom, to the beauty that is wildness of spirit?

As the music faded and the cakes had been eaten I watched the dance tribe remake their bonds ever so subconsciously. Here were folk who would not harm each other. They wouldn’t intentionally tread on each others’ toes. This was a clan of people who were actually ‘being’ something and actively wanted to help others become better. I thought to myself that if we all danced, if every few streets had it’s own dance floor, then maybe community would find it’s dancing feet again and help weave society back together from the dislocated strangers we have become.

Back home Nicola and I decided to hunt down some local regular dance events and we weren’t to be disappointed. They’re everywhere. So, one Sunday evening we headed to a working men’s club on the urban outskirts of Preston. We walked through the doors into a bar where the air was blue with expletives as the locals watched football on a big screen and downed their pints of disillusion. Once past the beer stained carpets and tainted air we pushed through double doors into a world of genteel serenity. Friends held each other close, couples danced with knowing smiles and flasks of tea dressed the tired tables.

We immersed in a few hours of elegant waltzes, strident quicksteps and challenging cha chas. We could only watch as regulars burned the floor with a hyper sensual Argentinian stroll, tangoed with style and foxtrotted through the veils of realities. Maybe dance is one of the secrets of life. Perhaps touch, play, music and rhythm will bring us home. Folk who dance regularly have that wry smile of someone who knows something, who’s life is flowing, who’s relationship is knitted more closely with those who matter. And what’s more those same folk have a 75% less chance of falling prey to dementia, their hearts beat more steadily and limbs flex longer.

Nicola and I are keen to encourage the five ‘c’s in our Buzzard community.

Creativity – Community – Connection – Ceremony – Celebration. Dancing ticks all those boxes!

About the Author


Jason has been a visual storyteller all of his life and follows an animistic, shamanic path from his ancestral lands of Anglezarke on the edge of the West Pennine Moors.
Formerly a professional photographer and film maker he now uses his art to help others fall in love with the land that little bit more.

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  1. Thank you Jason for sharing this uplifting story. Dance was a part of my Sicilian culture & upbringing. Your words brought back many beautiful memories of my father teaching me to dance.

  2. Belly dancing is a wonderful connection to mother earth and so is rocking along with a blues or rock band, it’s great to dance with a partner, but fine to be with loads of single friends enjoying the beats xxx

  3. Hi Jason & Nicola,
    I really enjoyed reading of your enjoyment of dancing!!! I completely agree when you write “Maybe dance is one of the secrets of life”! I started dancing last year and its been incredibly transformative… maybe this will appeal to your more elemental spirit:
    Thanks for all of your blogs, they’re a great read and I enjoyed your paleo/sugar free blogs very much – right up my street – thanks!
    Best wishes,

    1. Thank you Mike. Glad you’re enjoying our blogs. I’ve never done 5 rhythms as yet. At the moment I’m enjoying learning ballroom and Latin American styles.

  4. Great blog, Jason,
    I couldn’t agree more about the qualities of dance.
    Have you ever tried Gabriel Roth’s 5 rhythms dance? Now that is an altogether ecstatic experience!

    1. Thank you Chiara. I don’t mind at all. It’s already on facebook so you could simply share the post from our The Way of The Buzzard page.

  5. I love to dance! I do varied versions. I was trained in ballet as a child so it’s always been there. It’s the release you feel with dance and that no one minds what you do. You cannot dance and frown I noticed so it’s a great pick me up!

  6. Heart-warming! I used to play …..often twice a weekend ….. in barn dance bands ……. and sometimes danced as well. I know the clan feeling you describe. A good caller can create almost instant community, with a willing crowd. Also ……. always so uplifting to play for dancing, there’s a really strong energetic link there.

    1. Thank you Brian. I really enjoyed our Barn Dance at our Space to Emerge retreat last May when we had the Earthquakers playing live. Can’t wait to dance with Nicola to their music again this year.

  7. Wow! What a lot of comments! This dancing lark must really touch a happy nerve with us all! Thank you all for sharing here, it’s great to know we aren’t alone! 🙂

  8. I ve been thinking about starting dancing lessens for some time now. Your experience is so inspiring. Lovely that you two are doing something enjoyable for yourselves too.
    Love in nature

    1. Thank you Christine. It’s great fun. Sometimes challenging too but it’s all good for keeping the mind sharp and the coordination playing nicely. 🙂

  9. Excellent reading.?

    Adi invited me to come along with her to ” Dance & Movement ”

    It’s on Wednesday nights, on Facebook. Search. Shake your soul Preston. Do have a look.

    It’s such fun I absolutely love it.

    Keep dancing,

    Julie . ????????

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