Close holds in expressive dancing

How close is close? Virtually squeezing the life out of someone is a truly close hold. It is a therapeutic experience with some caveats to bear in mind. For me it is absolutely not sexual in any shape or form. It is not particularly sensual, and I can assure you that lust and love making is not a part of it either. It manifests a physiological phenomenon.

See the calming effect brought about via the Temple Grandin hug machine. Stressed cows have been placed in such hugging devices and they seem to like it. We hug our children and quite often, our friends and family too. But here we are with people we vaguely know. These close hold expressive dances feel very normal and convivial to those that become fond of them. Gentle swaying. Slow moves, guiding one another’s hands about is an extension to the zen dances that I began with Megan a few years ago. Those that walk into the dance hall for the first time and see this ridiculously close hold dancing going on can be rather surprised by it, surprised to say the least. I know that many do not like getting too close. It is each to their own.

Expressive dances can be put to the test, “what would my husband/wife think if they saw me dancing like that?” Some husband wife pairs have been seen in the same room, both in very close hold with other people. Nevertheless, I too would consider being a bit more conservative if a partner of mine were watching on. I might tone it down somewhat.

We have spent a number of years treating one another like lepers. Keeping that arbitrary 2 Metres apart. Slathering lube on our hands at every opportunity. Putting face muzzles on to show our devotion to the hopeless cause, and our moral highness to all and sundry. Now we are not even 2mm apart. We are comforting. We are saying without words, that it is going to be alright. Everything will be fine. It is therapy. It is a pleasure. Many will go to their graves without experiencing this kind of closeness to what are relative strangers. Closeness not only in this physical sense but also a spiritual sense.

The virus brought fear and invoked separation. It made us cold and inhuman. Maybe the recent popularity of expressive dancing is a reaction to that. I am sure that many of us live without any physical contact with others. One doesn’t even get that microsecond touch when handing out change. Card payments are another change which we keep us further apart.

I recognise that I am not always, fully, living in the moment during these close hold dances. I think many of my dance partners are though. Much more than me. In some ways they seem to get a fraction more from it than I do. There is a lot of joy in providing the lead and the gentle guide. It is a way of giving. I can say that of course, as it is coming from someone that wrote the book on this aspect of the human condition. We gain when we give. We enjoy giving.

Can I follow? You bet. It is another pleasure entirely, letting go and allowing the lady guide me. In close hold mode they provide the rhythm better and show me their craft. It is a new area of dance following for me. I have become quite adept at standard following and I have much to learn in this different arena. Learning the follow has assisted in the understanding of when to yield. When I lead, I can adapt better and take onboard their movements. I yield to their input throughout our time in each other’s hands.

There will be some that spoil the party. Some that fail to understand what it is all about. Some that will cross boundaries. It will only take one, to put someone off for life - or at least for a good while. I therefore implore people to consider what you would think if it was your daughter/sister/mother/brother etc that is being taken advantage of. And yes, never assume it is only men that behave badly. Embark on an expressive journey with those in the know and keep an open mind about it. Take it one step at a time and there is no need to rush the progression. It is after all a calm, steady relaxed affair. An affair that is not an affair.

The Plough Inn, Stoke Lacy, Bromyard, Herefordshire, HR7 4HG

Easy access off the A465 main Bromyard - Hereford road. 20 mins from Leominster,

Drinks available at the bar - please don't bring your own. Great food if you want a meal before/after.

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