Sunday, February 12, 2017

Dancing Kizomba in the Age of Trump




Kizomba is this incredibly sexy dance out of Angola that I've fallen in love with since I began taking classes with Black Diamond a little over a year ago. It's a couple's dance that's all about connection. When the chemistry is right between lead and follow, partners flow into each other like water running in a stream. It's so sensuous; so fluid. 

In Kizomba, connection is extremely important. It's not about complex combinations or fancy foot patterns. It's about occupying the same space at the same time and moving in sync. A dance with just the basics can be wonderfully danced if the partners are connected. The basic steps are relatively easily, but because they can be done in any variety of ways, combinations are endless. Kizomba is easy to learn, but hard to master. It is a dance where the follow (usually a woman) must submit to the lead (usually a man). 

As a single and independent woman, I'll admit that submission can be challenging for me sometimes. I'm accustomed to doing what I want when I want. That only works in free style dancing.  Having belly danced in a troupe for years, I understand the importance of connection.  Truth be told, I'm not really opposed to submitting. I just don't want to just follow any ol' body. I need to know if the person is capable of leading me--even on the dance floor. 

My Kizomba was getting better. I was learning to be patient with the bad leads--the self-proclaimed Kizomba expert after 3 classes, the lead foot, rhythm less lead whose dance feels like a waltz with Frankenstein, and the no confidence lead who likes to walk their partners into the wilderness of dance. I was learning not to back lead just because I knew the combinations and to trust my lead--and myself.

I had settled into dancing Kizomba--closing my eyes and relaxing into my partner. And then the election happened. And I found out that some of regular Kizomba leads actually voted for the current president occupying the White House. My Kizomba took a hit! And I'm still wounded from the injury. I was shocked because I didn't take them to be Trumplethinskin supporters. 

I tried to tell myself that it didn't matter. There was no place for politics on the dance floor. I kept telling myself that we can leave our differences aside and just enjoy the dance. Music and dance are unifiers; they don't discriminate. But I must confess it's been hard. As 45 and his minions go to work undoing the progress that has been made, and making the world a scarier place, I don't know how to dance with leads whose ideology so violently clashes with mine. 

What had been a clear channel of connectedness is now clouded. All I hear is static in the background when we dance. These are the trumpeters that I do know. What about the ones that I don't know? I could be having a great dance with a lead who wears a Make America Great cap on the weekends. I could be dancing with someone who supports legislation that harms my existence as a woman of color, so now I find myself side eyeing leads wondering if I'm dancing with the enemy. 

So I go to class and keep my mouth closed. I don’t want to know who else is rolling with The Donald. In this case, ignorance is bliss. As for the Trump leads, I do know, I don't engage in conversation with Them; I can't. I have tried to understand Their way of thinking. I have listened and read numerous articles, but why women and people of color voted for this administration will remain one of life's greatest mysteries. 

And I know someone reading this is thinking that I'm being irrational, petty or whatever, but my feelings are my feelings. I just need time to work through them as we often do when we think we’ve been betrayed. I'm not irrational--strong willed maybe. I was talking to a fellow Kizomba dancer and friend, Santana and she tried to reason with me. 

"Stephanie they,  have a right to vote for whoever they want."

"I know that," I retorted.  "And I have a right to be mad about it."

 Did she forget that I have to dance with these people? I have to trust them? How can I close my eyes and surrender when I need one eye open?

What I know is this too shall pass and maybe,  just maybe I'll get back to dancing the dance I want to dance. At least, that's what I hope will happen. If not, I'm going to have to start vetting potential leads before I settle into a potential dance partnership with them. My love of Kizomba depends on it.


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