Breaking Community

It has become apparent that the less technical dance communities that I am involved in are closed off. They are not welcoming to many people and they keep to themselves. When I compare those communities that have highly trained dancers versus those that do not, the highly trained dancers are often the most friendly and welcoming to those who are learning or are from a different genre of dance.

I was at an event last evening and I ran into a dancer that I knew. He was not from the latin dance community, but he is an amazing dancer. He saw me dancing with my friends and was concerned about dancing with me. He did not want me to not have fun because he did not know how to do what I was doing with my other friends. I told him that I didn’t care if he knew the steps. I knew he would feel the music and express it in his own way. I knew it would be beautiful as I have seen him full out in his own genre and he is mind-blowing. It made me sad though that he could feel the judgement in the room from those who were far less talented and trained than he. It almost prevented him from stepping onto the floor with me as he was afraid his lack of knowledge would make he and I embarrassed.

It shows me that there is a lot of toxicity in this community. I have seen it before and it makes me sad. I have been to other events in other cities where the dancers of the same genre far surpass the best in my community. What I find curious is that those dancers who surpass those in my community are more friendly, humble, and inclusive. They are not making people feel uncomfortable to the point where they do not want to step on the floor. They are the dancers that ask everyone and make everyone feel welcome. My community tends to exclude instead.

I have an amazing friend in my community who always adds people to our community by telling them they should come dancing. He has recruited so many people. Lovely people. Some of them have stayed. Many of them have exited again though because of the judgement and exclusion that happens in my community. It baffles me that the people who are higher ranked in this community want to keep the community so small and closed off. There is so much for them to learn about dancing. There is so much they can learn from dancers of different genres. Yet, consistently, they balk at chameleons like myself who are better trained than they. They ostracize those that are new and wanting to learn. They keep to themselves in their little circle of comfort which they know with whom they will show well on the dance floor.

They need to give their head a shake. Communities, businesses, festivals, and the like cannot have longevity if there is not continuous growth. There will always be an out flux of people, so to keep it even static in numbers, there has to be at least the same amount of influx. If you want to grow though, the influx has to be higher. This means showing kindness to the beginners who are interested to join. This means stepping out of your circle of dancers at risk of not having a perfect dance, but to make someone new feel welcome. This means being welcoming to dancers of different genres who come to your event who could blow your mind on the dance floor, but maybe not in the way you do. There is so much talent out there. There are so many people seeking community especially in big, busy cities. Put your ego and judgement aside. Welcome everyone. You may be dancing with a star of today or tomorrow.  Likely, they will not exclude you once they make it.

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