Sunday, June 28, 2020

Why I am not ready to dance yet


Are you ready or not?

I am not. 

Perhaps, if it were safe, we'd all be ready to go.  But it's not safe, and I have things to do!

I don't want to spend a moment of time pining over the pandemic, and then miss what I can work on under the circumstances.  I wish it were all over for everyone--especially those who are sick and dying--but wishing for an early end seems unrealistic.

What is realistic is avoiding futile wishes for it all to disappear, as a few politicians have predicted and wished.  Please join me in a search of personal growth as a dancers and as a people during this tragic time. The pandemic gives us all an opportunity to learn something.  Here is a list of things that I am working on:

1. Build a robust immune system insomuch a as I am able before dancing again.  If you dance long enough, you will join me in the over-65 risk group for COVID-19 or other possible epidemics in the future.  This is the time to get really smart out bolstering my immune system.  Before the pandemic, I had completed a post's draft on some insights for tango about tango's unique help in building our immune system. Pre-pandemic, I had read the book, 10% Human, and I do everything I can to build and maintain a robust immune system.  It was perfect timing to read that book. See footnotes for more on the immune system for dancers.

2. Become a better breather before I dance again.  It will make you a better dancer. I incorporate better breathing into my own dance-alone practice.  The pandemic teaches us that our respiratory system needs to be exercised. I regularly do breath-work.  Let me give you some resources and ideas that may change your dance and even help increase you level of wellness (given at the bottom of this post). 

3. Establish the best sleep discipline of my life before I dance again.  Then you will realize how often tango may have been harming your health.  Be part of a revolution of early milongas, encuentros, festivals.  It is already happening in my area.  Before the pandemic, organizers gave 7-10 or 11pm a try, and more people came out than ever for these Saturday milongas.  Be a part of the Early Milonga Revolution, but start good sleep habits now while you have the time and focus. Sleep scientists came up with the simple equation:  Sleep better = dance longer in life with a better sex life too.  No kidding.

4. Establish foot health--the best I have had since starting tango.  Have you noticed the healing process of your worn-out feet?  My feet are so much better off! Pay attention to your feet so they do not wish that the pandemic is their best friend.  You'll need your whole body-with-feet, soul, and spirit happy to dance again.

5. Take lessons online to support your own development and your favorite teacher.  You can get a degree online, meet with your doctor online, meet with a therapist online.  You can learn tango online too. Amazing but true.

6. Finally, learn more about tango music.  Can you name a rock band when it plays?  Can you even tell which album or approximate year your favorite band played a particular song?  Do that with tango.  It's easy:  I suggest a book like Tango Stories, or simply write "Laurenz tanda" or "DiSarli tanda" in a YouTube search.  Play only one orchestra as you are doing chores or dancing by yourself or with your partner.  Become good at the game "Name that Tune" when i comes to tango music.

I have a lot of work to do to prepare for the return of our milongas. We may be in solitary confinement, but I can hear you dancing in the cell next to me, and that brings me joy.



Footnotes for tasks 1 and 2 above.

1. Immune system ideas
  • I learned that one's immune system is harmed on a long-term basis by social distancing because sharing our individual microbiome through social contact makes us healthier.  However, this is not true during a pandemic, but we need to get back to dancing eventually!  Many people are older in our tango community and make up many of the best dancers. So if you want to dance long, work on this first task more than anything else. 
  • How old were you when you heard the word "antibiotic"? What about "probiotic"?  My spell checker still has not heard of "probiotic." This is our problem. We kill micorbes and viruses and fungi without knowing that through good nutrition we get all of these living in our bodies and helping us. Nutrition and knowledge about the microbiome are essential to overcome even what your primary care physician does not know about your health.  Learn now and dance longer!
  • My experience working in as a behavioral health consultant in a primary care clinic is that our habits, behaviors, and emotions are the things that keep us healthy or get our bodies unwell.  Far fewer of the problems we confront in primary care are from our patients' genetic disposition. So change some habits, maybe? A long list of immune system diseases creates a certain equation:  Immune system disorders = less dancing in your life. Do what you can in order to dance long and well.  Prepare now.
2. Better breathing resources:
  • Read "Breath: The Science and Lost Art of Breathing by David Nestor.  This book has changed my life.  It was just published in May 2020.  I am a better breather than ever before and no longer breath through my mouth at night because of this book. At least, I suggest listening to the NPR podcast with the author.  I sleep so much better now.
  • Yoga breathing.  Make one or more of the many breathwork styles your own. Follow them exactly at first and then improvise tango-style. :-)  I like this breathing technique, but I use my heartbeat to determine how long I hold my breath.  Get curious and learn more from a yoga teacher.
  • Learn about the Wim Hoff Method.  I started in 2019.  The method includes breathing and retention.  I like this video the most. After a long retention, I feel euphoric all day. Cold-water exposure is a part of this method. The Method has changed my immune system for the better. I am less and less reactive to allergens.  
  • May I suggest my own invention I use with anxiety patients?  My style of the "Game of Thrones" is breathing more often and as a habit. That means, deep breathing each time you are on the "throne." (Men: it's time to sit down.)  People who die, pee their pants because finally they are fully relaxed.  I was frustrated that people did not practice.  So this is a "health coach" hack:  If you breathe deeply for at least 8 times, then retain for a while and exhale on the toilet, you will empty your bladder some more because you are more relaxed. Important: do this on the throne. Here's the game of "thrones" motto: "Don't wait until you're dead to finally relax and pee."  



Monday, May 25, 2020

Tango Withdrawal Symptoms



I have some good news for tango addicts:  It's unlikely that you are going through a true tango addiction withdrawal.  It's been hard, but you will come out better on the other end.  This is why:

What many dancers I know are experiencing lately has been refreshing:  More time to read and do things they wanted to do. As for me, I am sleeping really well.  I have read several great books.  I meditate a lot.  I am in contact with more old friends.  I see that others have been talking on social media about all the things they are doing.  "I am not dancing tango, so I did this instead..." they write.  Life has gone on, and in some respects because of tango, we are better at being social animals even without tango in our lives.  The pandemic has given a reprieve to our world's environment and our internal world too.

Were we ever really addicted?  The word "addiction" is now used to market video games and food; so sure, in the new meaning of the word, everyone reading this blog is probably "addicted." We all might be having a new-aged tango withdrawal!  But thank goodness it is not a withdrawal in the outdated medical meaning of the word, which the medical world needs to abandon, as other words have been such as "mentally retarded."

But for the few of you who are addicted, this is what addiction would look like in the medical sense of the word:

Sudden Tango Cessation Disorder
Consider Mary.  Because of the pandemic, Mary has the common withdrawal symptoms from STCD (sudden tango cessation disorder).*  Like typical addiction withdrawal, she suffers from four things:  (1) anxiety--panic attacks, restlessness, irritability; (2) depression--social isolation, lack of enjoyment; fatigue, poor appetite; (3) insomnia--both falling asleep and staying asleep; and (4) her mind doesn't work well--she has poor concentration, poor memory.  She has many of the physical symptoms of COVID-19 too.  That is how she went in for help.  The physician reassures her that she will live.  The doctor goes to the waiting room. "She will probably go back to dancing at the end of the pandemic," the doctor tells her grieving family.  Her mother sobs. 

True, Mary did not need long hospitalization.  Will she ever recover?  She may not. 

But you will.

Your withdrawal is probably just a withdrawal from tango and not a tango withdrawal.  There is a difference.  In fact, the next time we meet, you may be all the better for this withdrawal from tango. You have a deeper appreciation of the joy of dance and the miracle of a warm embrace.  During your withdrawal from tango, you really listened to the music more carefully, and as you dance you better recognized the orchestra you learned to identify better during the pandemic.  

You are grateful for the things you took for granted.  This probably means that you are now addicted to life.  And that is a good thing.



*I am making this diagnosis up, of course.  But medically defined addictions?  They have all these symptoms and can include stroke, heart attacks, and hallucinations.  

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Dancing Alone with a Warm Embrace



Tango is just a dance, you know. It allows us to be in our bodies.  It makes time stop or race. It makes regular people feel as if the music has them doing things better than anything else they have ever done in life.  It's an excuse to hug people and be transported to oxytocin heaven without even knowing each other's names.  It transfers warmth to everything we do in life.  But it's just a dance. 

***

The pandemic is likely going to bring Jerry to psychological ruin.  Tango had pulled him out of a deep depression in 2008.  He didn't even know he was depressed, or at least how depressed he was.  He found refuge in dancing salsa, and that was fun.  Depression's best medication is fun, but tango was not a psychotropic medication--it was therapy and medication.

"I told myself that I would never be so vulnerable," Jerry tells himself as the first milongas began being canceled.  Being cut off from dancing is as scary for him as was getting a divorce.  He is afraid that he has let himself fall in love again. He thought he was safe because a dance should not be able to abandon him as a woman could.  "This is only a dance!" he tells himself over and over like a mantra.

He knows this is a bad omen when he starts catastrophizing with slogan-like phrases:

"A close embrace will never be the same."

"Everyone will be afraid of microbes and viruses." 

"Even if things get back to normal, I will be all rusty and lose the flow." 

"I'll be lonelier than ever before." 

He looks at himself in the mirror and tells himself to slow the onslaught of negative thoughts.  "It will only take over my mind and make me spiral down into despair," his internal psychologist tells him.  

Tango is just a dance, but his fear of being depressed--not the lack of dancing--is what he truly dreads. Another episode of his blood flowing slowly in his veins looms. Depression knocks at the door.

But that's not going to happen. Tango did not leave him; his wife did.

Now he has skills he never had before.  He just doesn't really know it yet.  Like many others in the tango community, life indeed goes on during a pandemic or if a dance partner dies or if a foot gets broken.  Jerry, like others, starts connecting to family and friends on video chats and messages and texts. They read books. And tango dances with them through life, but just in a different way.

His mother is the most amazing connection during the pandemic and this dearth of social touch. Going to his therapist, David, helped him most reconnect to his mother.  "I don't want to get on medications again," Jerry warns his on-and-off therapist. "But I am dreaming a lot. Some are okay dreams but they are very vivid.  I keep dreaming about my mother, who died in 2018, along with my grandparents the same year."

***

It is good to reconnect with David, who is his old self, even on a normal video chat, which now Federal law allows patients to use during the pandemic.  David peers over his glasses and stares at Jerry.  He's silent for longer than usual--as if he is stumped by this dream problem.  "Well, well ..." he finally says haltingly.  "I know you are an atheist, but you are presenting me with a spiritual issue."

"How's that?" Jerry retorts.

"If you're haunted by your dead mother.  She is a spirit, and therefore, is this not a spiritual issue?"

"Bullshit."

"Okay, then. Do you want to talk about something besides ghosts, then?"

"Actually, I want to talk about my fear of another bout of depression now that I cannot go dance. But these dreams are bugging me the most."

"Okay, then tell me what you dream about."'

"I dream over and over about her casket going into the ground, and I have no feelings. I cannot cry. My ex-wife and my Mom kept in touch after our divorce.  I was kind of jealous.  Then, just as it truly happened, Nicole comes to the funeral, staying on the out edge of the funeral party. Then and now, these scenes are like a close-up zoom lens. I can only see Nicole there crying as I am numb and cannot cry. I feel jealous that she can cry and I can't.  At the same time,  the audio is turned up, and I hear the casket being lowered into the ground.  People in the funeral party take a shovel full of dirt and throw on the casket.  They wait for me to do it too, but I am paralyzed."

"So who is the producer of this film in your head?" David asks Jerry.

"I guess, I am."

"Right.  And who is the director?"

"Me."

"Really?"

"Yeah, who else?"

Again David is silent and looking over the top edge of his glasses.  "You are watching a B movie that no one wants to watch; not even you.  And that is because there is no director.  Jerry, what do you want me to say?  Should I be like a psychoanalyst and find the archetypes and deep meanings of your cast of characters?  Should I be a shaman and help you speak with the dead?   Or would you prefer that I help you be a better film director to change this shitty movie into something worth watching? It's your choice."

"Okay, help me with that.  That is better than having a spiritual problem."

"That is your spiritual problem that you have not spoken to your mother except in B movie films at night.  And even then you are the emotionally paralyzed child who has no voice.  How would you make this a better film?  A film that you would want to watch or want to show to some intimate friend.  Would you wait for your dream life to come up with better storylines or would you sit down during the day and create a better film?"

David and Jerry go on about his worries about the pandemic, how his anxieties are returning, and how depression is his greatest fear.  But all of that is a blur.  The thing about showing up as a director, that is all he can really remember about their video call.  Now the empty director's chair haunts him rather than his mother.

***

Jerry sits at his desk and pulls out some things he still has from his mother:  A cross that she had from her mother.  A ring.  And some papers that he has forgotten, including a completed a genogram from an undergraduate sociology course.  He recalls his mother. She tells him about the family as far back as she knows. He charts dutifully as he had learned in class--that square boxes are for men and circles are for women.  Then came the amazing stories from his mother.  Her first husband's father had raped her.  She has told no one until they sit there together, filling out the genogram. Also, she admits that she had given away her first child to adoption. On a lighter note, she recounts how Jerry's sister is such a natural ballet dancer; how his half-brother is a musician; and his brother is a natural artist and sculptor. She recounts how Jerry was playing guitar even as a toddler.  Jerry connects the dots. He is the musician/dancer in a family of artists.

Jerry stops to think. "Here is a movie worth watching right under my nose."  Well, at least he realizes he has something better than the B movie he has been watching in his dreams.

Memories pour in.  Mom teaching the kids to cook, taking them to church, and the words on the wall in light blue, painted with a 3-D effect:  "God is Love."

"I don't want a melancholy movie," the Producer says, leaning over Jerry's Director's Chair.

"Fuck off.  Fire me and get another Director."

***
"Mom, I want to tell you how it felt when I visited you. I could finally really hug you.  I have to admit something.  I learned that from tango.  I learned to hug people.  I had forgotten how.  I knew how to do it as a kid.  I relearned with my first girlfriend, but after my divorce, I had forgotten. I was even afraid.  But I had long stopped hugging you since my teen years.  I wish I could've hugged you more. From tango, I learned to dance with the young and the old.  I hug the young women, the daughters I never had. Yes, I hug the sexy ladies who miraculously allow me to dance with me because of my musicality. I hug friends who giggled with my playfulness. I hug the older ladies like they were my aunts or even you. So when I visited you, it was easy to hug you again. Do you remember the time we went back to church, and I kissed my old Sunday school teacher on both cheeks as if she were a venerable tango teacher visiting from Argentina? I could see it in her eyes. You both were as surprised as you were delighted.  But I just had learned how to do this because of tango.  It was a reflex. It was etiquette. It is the new me."

"And Mom?" Jerry went on, then pausing.  "I want to keep hugging you.  Holding you long.  This feels right.  David tells me that I can have a growing relationship with you. And I know how I can do this.  When I dance by myself, please come with me.  I have danced with others who were hurt like you were in your divorce and sexual assault.  They found healing.  And I too will find healing dancing with you.  I am glad Nicole came to say good-bye to you.  It was her right and yours too.  It was your right to have all the people who love you to come to your funeral.  And she had the right to say goodbye.  Maybe death talked to her and told her that we are all connected and the times we loved were the only moments we were truly alive. I am grateful for those moments. Anyway, it was your funeral, sorry that I have been so fucking selfish. . . "

"Don't say that word, okay Jerry?" a motherly voice says in his head.

Jerry knows that he has reconnected with his mom at that moment.  That voice.  It isn't what his mother would say; it is what she is saying.  "David was right," he admits to himself. "I have had a spiritual problem."

The pandemic will give him plenty of time to get back to dancing by "himself."  He can work on knowing the music better, knowing Laurenz and Tanturi and some other lesser-known orchestras better.  But mostly, he is sure that he can find a deeper sense of himself and a healed past--or better said a "revised past, a different storyline."

***
In a video group room with tango friends three days later, he hears someone in the group say, "Tango is only a dance, you know."

"Not in my Movie," he whispers under his breath.  The voices in the chat group dim as he reflects: "It is who I am. The musician/dancer who learned his warm embrace from his mother."


Art credit:  Tom Kollins.  https://www.facebook.com/groups/209226950366349/







Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Post-Pandemic Chance for Musicality



Musicality has a chance in our post-pandemic world. 

A wonderful, maybe even radical change away from dancing-like-always-before is upon us. Musicality has a chance to grow because we have no milongas and the meaning of a warm embrace will be forever changed for the entire planet. Life seems more precious and fragile too. The good news is that we can take this time to feel the music in our body and come back to the milongas in the future with a new vision and return as better dancers, even better people.

Father and Dancing Son Advice
My 21-year old son misses dancing as I do.  He is in Europe and very restricted in his movements.  He wonders about being a very rusty dancer too.  So some of the following ideas were from some father-son advice that I will allow you to eavesdrop in on.

There's a good reason that when we return to dancing, that we can be better than ever before.  I told him to forget figures from his ballroom classes for now. "This is a time to put on music and just let your body move without a partner," I told him.  "Let it be a time to find musicality--being attentive to how the music moves your body. Your body's physical response to music is what dance truly is."  "Yeah, Dad," he said, "I have been doing that when no one is looking. I'll do it some more."

The Dancer/Musician
My son is a dancer-musician.  I told him that I used to believe that being a musician helped me as a dancer. Perhaps. . . but upon reflection, it may be just the opposite.  Being an improvisational dancer has helped me to be a better musician. I told him that if you add up all musicians of all time, dancers have instructed nearly all musicians to express themselves with better musicality. If you are aware of tango orchestras' histories, certainly you will see this as the path of the greatest orchestras: They played in front of dancers, and dancers' responses further helped them hone how the musicians would play. Jazz, Rock, and Tango all died as powerful cultural phenomena of their times when dancers started to sit down and merely watch.

Great Musicians Dance with no Partner
Great musicians dance with their instruments and not a partner. To demonstrate the musicality of a musician who dances, let me introduce you to a video of a musical prodigy, Alma Deutscher, when she was 12 years old.  Here (in the video below) she is "dancing" behind the piano. Watch her body language change its "dance" too. I start the video below when she is moving her body to the orchestra's happier moments. She dances to the orchestrata. No partner. She is not playing. But then listen and watch her musical expression as the mood changes to a deeply moving piano dialogue with the orchestra.  Is she crying?  Perhaps. She may be holding back tears, but her fingers and body are crying.  Body and soul: This is musicality.  Innate.  Internal. Expressed with competence.  I weep every time I see this performance.



The awesome depth of human experience includes musical moments. Not being able to go out and dance is forcing us to be closer to the music in our solitude.  I suggest being a minimalist and discover your musicality. The simple- but-musical tango walk helps with the nuances of expressing the music in one's body. Nearly all of the private lessons that I have taken in the last five years have been on the tango walk. Simplicity is complex.

Your search for musicality finds its greatest satisfaction when tears come to your eyes because of the beauty of art that you have shared with just yourself. Later it will become just one other person.  Musicality is entirely internal, and a pandemic is giving you a chance to find the landscape of your heart and in that heart, your unique musically as only you can express it.  In the end, doing this will be more than just learning to better at musicality as a dancer. This practice will be medicine for your soul.


Photo credit:  https://www.thewrap.com/purpose-driven-content-time-pandemic-peter-samuelson/

This blog post is dedicated to my two awesome sons--both musicians and dancers, who in spite of being in their early twenties, turn to me as an older-and-wiser friend. Many fathers would love to be so blessed.  It's a two-way street: We learn from each other and inspire each other. 



Monday, April 6, 2020

Will we ever dance again?

Yes...


We Will Dance Again

Alone with no dancing in sight,
How many long to dance again?
No time for dance as we hide
From a virus that has found
Its way into our bodies and lives.

I try to feel dance in my body,
And I find it in my hands.
I feel your right hand in mine.
I feel your back and hold you closer.
I smell your favorite perfume
Mixed with mine--the smell of you.
I hear the music moving us as one.
I feel your chest against mine,
Each nuance of the music
Translated by two hearts.
I feel our feet on the world, dancing.
On this planet, spinning towards
A twilight predicted by all...
This speck of dirt and water--
Eventually again in the cosmic womb,
And then another Big-Bang Beginning.
In a New Time dance will reappear.
It cannot hide forever.
Once again music, joy, happiness and love
Will make souls dance in a new age.
Sooner or later, perhaps later than soon,
Even we can live this new age in our own time,
And we will dance again.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

The Rare Epicurean Tanguer@s

" Not what we have but what we enjoy, constitutes our abundance."  --Epicurus


Epicurian philosophy 
is simple:  Seek pleasure and avoid pain. So you might think there are many Epicurean tanguer@s out there, right?

The problem is that Epicurean philosophy is a wisdom tradition, not a lifestyle.  Seeking pleasure often has no philosophy or ethical basis.

Sure, there are many who seek pleasure and avoid pain, but may lack wisdom entirely. A philosopher thinks deeply about this principle of pleasure and pain. One of my greatest pleasures in life is to dance.  But it took a while for me to find some wisdom of how to be wise enough to create life-long pleasure and to avoid loss, pain, and distress.

Pleasure without Self-Harm
I started thinking about this Pleasure Principle as I was trying to help a patient of mine suffering with sleeplessness.  I think he considered himself a true Epicurean.  He explained that he wanted to enjoy life. So that meant that he wanted to enjoy his cigarette before bed, drink whiskey before bed, and watch TV in bed. Of course, all of these things undermine good sleep and were harming his health. Pleasure without self-harm takes some wisdom.

Tango and the Pleasure Principle
I recommend lots of pleasure.  But I want to be an Epicurean Tanguero.  My tango path for many years was not as an Epicurean philosopher.  I have more and more pleasure in tango, but that was made possible because of becoming wiser--joining the Epicurean wisdom of seeking pleasure and avoiding pain for the long-term good.

If I want more pleasure and less pain, I know that I need to . . .
  • Dance less so I can have good sleep. 
  • Dance less so I can have good foot care. 
  • Wear special earplugs* so I am not deaf later in life. (Get a good decibel app.)
  • Dance in moderation in order to have plenty of other helping activities that will maintain my tango to be long-lived--such as . . .
    >Tai chi for balance
    >Working out for stamina and strength
    >Yoga for flexibility
    >Breathing practice for lung capacity and body awareness
    >Mindful meditation for flow and calming the inner-voice that is not mine.
The path of a philosopher for me is to have ecstatic moments in tango but not at the expense of not taking care of my body's health, my psychological wellness, and my spiritual life.

The Pleasure Principle, philosophically practiced, makes our tango glow, and allows us to be an asset to the tango community, which by the nature of any community will need more wisdom and less shallow pleasure-seeking.  Seek pleasure; eschew pain.  But be a true Epicurean Tangue@.

Photo credit:  https://smudgyguide.net/the-epicureans/

* In order to maintain one's hearing acuity, young or old, I suggest getting good quality earplugs, even some made just for your ears.  Some milongas employ partially deaf DJ's who blast their music.  In the workplace, your employer must provide hearing protection over 85 decibels.  I know DJ's who blast music over 100 decibels all night. Avoid these deaf DJ's if you can, or simply do as I do:  Wear earplugs specifically made for ... wait for it ... DJ's.  Whatever you do, don't tell them to turn down their music.  They're deaf and won't hear you.   :-/

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Feeding your Tango Cat during the Black Plague

Feed your cat!  Do you remember from your history classes the Black Plague that killed half the population in Europe? What did panicked-stricken city-dwellers do? You will remember that, unfortunately, they killed the cats and then outlawed people from having them. Unbeknownst to the people of that time, the cats were keeping the disease-carrying fleas on rodents out of their homes.  Eventually, the word got out that people who were refusing to kill their cats were protected and the cat-killing law was repealed.

Coronavirus?  Through analogy, tango has made your cat healthy--so much so, that you may as well call your cat "Tango."  In today's world with a modern pandemic from COVID-19 you have to keep your cat at home for a while, but it's not forever. In reality tango feeds your cat.  This means that ample physical social contact before an epidemic makes you and your microbiome more resilient during epidemics. Tango is also psychologically powerful to bolster your immune system.

Your cat is more like your microbiome.  Cats cannot live on tango alone. They need good food to keep the gut bacteria balanced and healthy. They need pure water, probiotics, fresh air and sun. They need lots of sleep. They need to avoid psychologically toxic relationships. It's not just tango, but that's a big part of your biological and psychological resiliency.  Even if you were to have had an awesome, strong cat, during the Black Plague, you would not have gone out shaking everyone's hand just because you had power-cat!  You'd stay in.  So it is with tango. Stay in during a pandemic!!!  

Not only your mind but your body wants you to return to the milonga.
Microbiologists are unequivocally showing us that practicing social distancing, even social isolation, during times of pandemic could be a life-and-death matter for many--if not you, then someone you could possibly infect.  However, during healthy times before and after an epidemic, physical social contact bolsters our immune system.  Meeting, touching and hugging people (also called "tango") increases the diversity of the microbiome in your body and you are stronger for it. Tango is the perfect medicine for the general public's over-sanitized  lifestyles.  More and more people sit behind computers, communicate, chat, date and even have virtual sex. This is a problem for the "sanitized" microbiome which needs to have more social contact in order to be robust.  Then this same socially isolated person who already lacks a diversified microbiome, let's say, gets a viral infection, runs to his doctor and further damages his microbiome with a round of antibiotics. Think PRObiotics and not antibiotics, unless it is a serious infection. Antibiotics, by the way, have NO effect on viruses.
Read this book!
More than 90% of your body
is your microbiome.
Really.

Your enemy was never bacteria, viruses, and fungi.  The majority of these microbes, viruses, and fungi work in your body to keep you healthy or are harmless when kept in balance.  Without a good balance of diverse bacteria, people become depressed, anxious and physically sick. (So eat probiotic foods.) The recipe for good health requires a balance in your microbiome.  Little is known about how they do it, but all three are mostly our friends.  Yes, certain viruses, like HIV, are seriously not good.  And Candida Fungi are not good when out of balance. Yersinia Pestis (bubonic plague) are extremely dangerous bacteria.  But don't kill all the cats!  Most are good.  Tango cats especially.  One day soon we will all need to get back to embracing one another.  Long-term survival is the real issue at hand.  For the time being while not dancing so much, stay home, and take good care of your Tango Cat.
___________




Photoshop credit:  Thanks, Benjamin Word, for your knowledge in International Advertising and the manipulation of Internet cat pictures.

Photo credits:
Kitten with yarn (before photoshop): https://kittentoob.com/20-toys-never-let-cat-play/
Coronavirus: https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/coronavirus-resource-center

Footnotes:   How is it that the rodents didn't get sick from the fleas that they carried? Well, to this day they carry a virus that would keep them from dying from the Bubonic Plague if it were to come back. (In the 1990's the US had 10 cases.  So it has come back but has been controlled.  Is it not interesting that humans and rats have certain viruses that protect us!  It's just that they can carry a virus that helps them but not homo sapiens.   

Even though the bubonic Plague would not be as deadly as it was in the 1300s, it is because we have other things that protect us:  Sewers, less malnutrition and better overall hygiene, more cats and fewer rodents.  In 1340, the population was hit with a mini-ice age and was weakened with malnutrition.  Cities were dirty and full of rodents.  Killing the cats, who officials believed were carrying the disease, was the absolute worse thing to do.

Sources:  

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Tango, the Microbiome and the Coronavirus


If you dance tango, you do it because it makes you happier.  The microbes in your body are dancing too. Literally dancing.

[I wrote this post before the Corona Virus pandemic started, but I had it in my drafts. The new meaning with a pandemic is this:  Many people will never return to tango. And many will deny the danger of a pandemic. Both of these things are unfortunate reactions. But I hope scientific knowledge will grow for the general public. For over a century, we have mostly misunderstood the significance of the discovery of microbes (bacteria), and the much smaller viruses, and fungi.  What we still do not understand--perhaps especially in the medical field--is that the vast majority of these microbes coexist with our minority human genome in our body. Did you know that many viruses are good for us?  Did you know that even fungi happily have a balance on our skin and mouths and everywhere else in our bodies? It is a matter of balance! When the pandemic is over, it will be best that you return to tango for your own physical and emotional well being.  You need social touch for a healthy, robust immune system.]

One reason that you may be coming back to dance is that tango dancers are likely to be happier and healthier from social contact than if they stayed home.  By "social contact," I mean not just psychological contact but also physical contact. A growing body of evidence shows that we return to eat and do things because our microbes are bidding these behaviors. Can it be that we are returning to dance and do many things at the bidding of the microbiome's influence on our behavior and even our personalities?  (See article below, "Gut Bacteria May Be Linked to Personality Traits.")

Luckily, dancing is good for us.  The other good news is that dancers are likely to have a more robust microbiome because of their close physical interaction with others. Sharing the good bacteria in social contact gives us a greater diversity of bacteria in our bodies. A person with less diversity is likely to get sick and depressed or anxious.  So yes, you are happier when you dance. Your heart and soul dance and your body dance. But there is more . . .

Your microbiome dances.
 

10% of all the DNA cells in your body indicate that you are human.  90% are all sorts of DNA that are not human.  Trillions of cells make up a huge "community" of diverse bacteria, fungi, and viruses.  Most of these co-exist with our minority human DNA and allow us to live well on the planet.  New studies are showing that people with a lack of diversity in their microbiome (helpful microbes throughout our body) have weaker immune systems and are more likely to be depressed.

People who lack a diverse microbiome have both more physical illnesses and also lack psychological resilience. So the diverse community in your microbiome is "dancing" and very happy when you have close social contact with each other.

Here's a wonderfully produced info video from NPR on the microbiome. It's especially helpful if you doubt that your microbiome really dances. :-)  (Or keep reading below the video if you have no doubts so far.)




Tango dancers are likely NOT to be germophobic. Germophobia creates more and more isolation and even more and more mental problems, especially debilitating Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). The germophobe thinks he or she is justified in their permanent social isolation. Why not? For now over 100 years, the human race has grown more and more germophobic. But we only have seen half the story. The vast majority of our microbiome we have attained through physical contact is helping us survive! Look at our medicine and commercials of anti-bacterial products. We all know what anti-bacterial agents are. Even modern doctors have little sense of the harm they are doing to their patients by giving patients antibiotics, which kill the good bacteria (the majority) along with a few bad guys. And for what purpose? Why kill bacteria if you are fighting a virus? People-pleasing doctors are unwilling to educate a misinformed public because the American Medical Association has been in a senseless war on microbes without knowing the whole story, which has caused "superbugs." Except for epidemics, stop using antibiotics if at all possible! Stop using antibacterial sprays and soaps. Even children in households with no dishwasher are healthier than the more sterile environments of homes with dishwashers. And, of course, dance more tango.

New Vocabulary Words
The general public has not been able to talk about these truths until recently. If you know the word "probiotic" it probably is new to your vocabulary in comparison to "antibiotic." A recent study by Dr. Katrina Johnson in the Human Microbiome Journal looked at social behavior and microbes. She wrote: “Our modern-day living may provide a perfect storm for dysbiosis [microbial imbalance or maladaptation] of the gut. We lead stressful lives with fewer social interactions and less time spent with nature, our diets are typically deficient in fiber, we inhabit over-sanitized environments and are dependent on antibiotic treatments. All these factors can influence the gut microbiome and so may be affecting our behavior and psychological well-being in currently unknown ways,” said Johnson.

But not Tango Dancers, Dr. Johnson! We are a diverse bunch of people. In nearly every tango community I have been in, we share collectively five or more languages, nationalities. Racial diversity is common. But one thing we really share is our microbes, and 99.9% of the time this is very good for our physical and mental well being since microbiome diversity is so good for our physical well being. Generally speaking outside of epidemics, hiding out and avoiding social contact is dangerous for the body and mind.

So let your body dance as if no one is looking. The microbiome has been dancing as if no one is watching since the beginning of the human race--because we have hot been watching! It's only now that we are aware of this incredible dance. And now, we are finally watching. Hopefully, our microbiome won't get nervous.

________________



Photo credit (and below article):  https://psychcentral.com/news/2020/02/13/gut-bacteria-may-be-linked-to-personality-traits/154172.html


Here is the article so you don't have to look it up:

 

Gut Bacteria May Be Linked to Personality Traits

A new large study finds that some of our personality traits may be linked to the composition and diversity of our gut bacteria (microbiome). The findings are published in the Human Microbiome Journal.
“There has been growing research linking the gut microbiome to the brain and behaviour, known as the microbiome-gut-brain axis,” said Dr. Katerina Johnson, who conducted her Ph.D. in the Department of Experimental Psychology at the University of Oxford in the U.K.
“Most research has been conducted in animals, whilst studies in humans have focused on the role of the gut microbiome in neuropsychiatric conditions. In contrast, my key interest was to look in the general population to see how variation in the types of bacteria living in the gut may be related to personality.”
Prior research has linked the gut microbiome to autism (a condition characterized by impaired social behavior). Johnson’s study suggests that numerous types of bacteria previously linked to autism are also related to differences in sociability in the general population.
“This suggests that the gut microbiome may contribute not only to the extreme behavioral traits seen in autism but also to variation in social behavior in the general population. However, since this is a cross-sectional study, future research may benefit from directly investigating the potential effect these bacteria may have on behavior, which may help inform the development of new therapies for autism and depression,” said Johnson.
One interesting finding was that people with larger social networks tend to have a more diverse gut microbiome, which is often associated with better gut health and general health.
“This is the first study to find a link between sociability and microbiome diversity in humans and follows on from similar findings in primates which have shown that social interactions can promote gut microbiome diversity,” said Johnson. “This result suggests the same may also be true in human populations.”
Conversely, the study shows that people with higher stress or anxiety had a lower microbiome diversity. In addition, the researchers found that adults who had been formula-fed as children had a less diverse microbiome in adulthood.
“This is the first time this has been investigated in adults and the results suggest that infant nutrition may have long-term consequences for gut health,” said Johnson.
Diversity was also positively related to international travel, perhaps due to exposure to novel microbes and different diets. More adventurous eaters had a more diverse gut microbiome whilst those on a dairy-free diet had lower diversity.
In addition, diversity was greater in people with a diet high in natural sources of probiotics (e.g. fermented cheese, sauerkraut, kimchi) and prebiotics (e.g. banana, legumes, whole grains, asparagus, onion, leek), but notably not when taken in supplement form.
“Our modern-day living may provide a perfect storm for dysbiosis of the gut. We lead stressful lives with fewer social interactions and less time spent with nature, our diets are typically deficient in fibre, we inhabit oversanitized environments and are dependent on antibiotic treatments. All these factors can influence the gut microbiome and so may be affecting our behavior and psychological well-being in currently unknown ways,” said Johnson.

Friday, January 31, 2020

Musicality: More than a dance class



"Musicality is not a learned skill.
It's a natural skill that you
uncover."

Anonymous musician


You dance tango.  Nearly everyone, but certainly you were born to be musical.  That is part of what it means to be human for you and every dancer. Watch children dance without a single worry about who is watching. That's uncovered musicality before your eys. No lessons. No coaching. Just uncovering with is naturally there.

Musical expression is truly an essential part of being human until we are shamed or told not to "dance around so much" by parents or teachers. Then, here come the blocks to our natural expression!  So, the work of getting through the blocks is a psychological and spiritual quest more than merely a dance or music skill to be learned.  Knowing this fact allows you to relax and let nature take its course.

The reason you love tango, I believe, is because of your inner self who pushed you to start this dance and your desires to embody and express the music which your inner self hears.  More than just a desire for a new hobby--the inner self is driven to express itself musically.

So as vague and huge as the task of expressing yourself musically appears to be, musicality is the center of why you dance.  The quest is to uncover and unblock. Also, you can think of musicality as a drive. Think about other drives.  You are driven to breathe, drink, eat, find shelter. Put on music and you are driven to move, even if your musicality drive has been stamped on and has dwindled down to merely tapping your feet.  Musicality is a drive to be you.

So as a start and especially while alone . . . listen to the silence, then put on the music, then feel it in your body and soul. Let it go. Be the music. Add the "E" to "Motion" and see how musicality pours out of your dance. This expression is who you truly are.


Part II:
More about a word I used above-- the Quest--and how to consciously begin this quest in the next post.  On the Quest of a lifetime, all drives must be channeled.  Let's talk about this.  Please comment below.


Photo credit:  https://medium.dancedeets.com/musicality-in-dance-7f0e6b89ff1e

Honorable mention: Regarding adding E to Motion, please see Aydan's wonderful post on this, http://www.dancingwithpresence.com/blog/tangotouch-adding-e-to-you-motion

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Foresight has 2020 Vision.


Tango, one of my main creative passions in life, is connected to my use of social media to keep up with people and events. Social media is a problem for me. Something needs to change in 2020. So this year I hope for foresight, not hindsight, having 2020 vision.  I am dedicating myself to JOLO--the Joy-Of-Living-Omnipresent, which is my new term for a pervading awareness to care for my physical and psychological health.  "Omnipresent" sounds like something only Divinity can do, but perhaps that is what the Universe wants more from us--being all-present and present-in-all. 

And for my 2020 foresight, I guess I will need a smarter SMART phone to help me with more joy and less obsession . . .

Spiritually
Mature
Aware
Resilient 
Transformational Phone

Oh, yes.  Another clarification is needed for a my new SMART phone.  Literally, a "phone" is a sound and a "telephone" is transmitted sound.  The sound that I plan to make will be more in person and less through technology.  

Here's how I'll use my not-so-SMART telephone:

1. SMV.  I have deleted Facebook, Messanger, Apple News, and the YouTube app off of my cell phone.  This will help.  I still keep connected to the news, but I don't want to be obsessed. Also, I don't know about you, but for me, Social Media Voyeurism (SMV) engenders FOBLO, the fear of being left out of tango events one sees on social media. (FOBLO is not just fear for millennials who made up the term.) I wish to have a 2020 vision with less and less regret that I am not present in all the photos of my favorite dancers dancing at a festival or milonga I did not attend. I am changing notification settings on my not-so-smart phone and spending more time on my truly SMART phone--talking to a diversity of people.  The decision to turn off the notifications takes some smart common sense.

2. Engage my maturity and resiliency skills.   Being-happy-with-what-you-have is a difficult task for everyone striving to mature and grow spiritually.  So FOBLO is a monster not only for a generation who has grown up on selfies but everyone engaged in social media. As for me, I want to be continually working on "growing up," being on a path of an ever-maturing person, and on a path of multiple passions to pursue in life.

3. Time for depth.  An example just in tango is my resolution to even celebrate "being left out." I can celebrate having time for other things, such as reading that book on tango orchestras; practicing more by myself. (I will have week-long quests to dance every day--even at work with my door closed, but every day.) Also, I may enjoy just giving my feet a needed break. Who knows? Perhaps, I enjoy a needed vacation from tango to broaden my life in things not related to tango, such as, reading more, writing, learning French, working out or hiking more, exploring more tai chi and getting great sleep.

4. The spiritual part:  There's just no time for missing out or having FOBLO if my 2020 foresight gives me "JOLO," the joy of living omnipresent.  Coming into the New Year, I am happy to focus on my health and well being more than ever before. Back in 2017 my resolution was to give up [unhealthy] tango--late-night tango.  I have done really well at that, and I recommend it to everyone that we all eschew late milongas for the most part or at least promote early milongas in our local communities because sleep and health are two sides of the same coin. So my first tango event in 2020?  Houston--a marathon--but I will only attend the early events. This is the practice of living JOLO. Foresight has a 2020 Vision.


Photo credit:   https://www.balfour.com/Blog/2019_October-22-Theme-Ideas

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Old Milongueros don't sleep much

"Once upon a time, old milongueros danced all night and worked all day!"  A tango myth?  Yes, one I used to believe!

The Early Milonga
I have it from different sources of those who have lived in Buenos Aires, that the old milongueros did their serious dancing at early milongas.  Sure they would show up at later milongas, but that was to drink and court women at the late milongas to score or simply socialize. The tango-myth of eschewing good sleep is pure fairy-tale machismo

How to die early
I have worked with soldiers for all my professional life as a therapist.  Soldiers express a similar idiotic machismo--that "sleep is for wimps" and then these same soldiers die young from believing this rampantly popular stupidity. (Ask the Veteran's Administration.)  Tango dancers too often choose sleep deprivation--I did for years! But soldiers and others dealing with PTSD would like to sleep, but cannot. If you have a choice, choose health; choose sleep!

But maybe I am wrong
Let's agree hypothetically that the stories are true of the milongueros defying the need for sleep. Some yogis, through meditation, have reduced their need to sleep through meditation.  So let's agree that some dance or meditate all night and work all day the next. I think meditation and tango have a health-giving element that helps us get good sleep.  But little sleep? Even if tango or meditation helps, what does your body tell you?  Can you feel well on less than four hours of sleep? Do you personally know anyone who can? 

Is it possible that tango compensates for not sleeping?
I wish it were true. But no. Although tango has a huge salutary effect on anyone who loves to dance, it will not compensate for disregarding the body's need for sleep.  In fact sleep deprivation leads to poor dancing, poor balance, and poor memory.  Even if these milonguero tales were true, we don't hear the many voices of all of those who died early from the long-term effects of sleep deprivation.

So what is essential for tango?  Good music, talented dancers, a good dance floor.  And good sleep.



Photo credit:

Ovidio José Bianquet also see http://www.tangovalsmilonga.com/the-old-milongueros/



Saturday, November 16, 2019

Replacing Gaydar with Tangdar

Who is the target?
In many cultures, men must protect their physical and mental well being from the "dancing-man prejudice."  Especially a man who dances in North America finds himself constantly in the scope of both men and women's "gaydar." At least, this has been my experience.

recent article about men avoiding recycling in order not to appear gay (or be "outed") made me wonder if this fear keeps so many men away from dancing. Why are there so few men in many parts of the world who avoid being dancers? By reflection on my own experiences throughout my life, I realized that men--both gay and hetero--have reason to be warry of how men and women "scope them out." As I thought about this subject, many of my own experiences were reawakened--like recovered memories. I became more and more somber, even repulsed, as each memory surfaced:
  • I heard in seventh grade from some female classmates that their mothers said that if a man crosses his legs he was gay.  I thought that was stupid, even funny, but I took note and tried not to cross my legs so much.
  • My private music teacher was scoped out by an ex-sailor's gaydar. He told everyone that my music teacher was gay and said he was nearly ready to beat him up because he saw my teacher touch me in a friendly way.  I am horrified that as a young teen, I assumed the ex-sailor's gaydar was accurate. As I learned over time, the veteran sailor's gaydar had malfunctioned.
  • When I was in my 20's and a musician in Oakland, California, my church made a threat to ex-communicate a pastor because she and I attended our mutual church and musician friend's gay wedding. My friend was disallowed from being a member of the church.
  • A good friend and fellow long-distance cyclist was identified by a salsa partner of mine as being gay.  Her gaydar malfunctioned too, sending off warning signals because he shaved his legs. She did not know that the majority of serious cyclists shave their leg hair since if they get in a wreck it is easier to clean wounds without hair in the way. He later married the woman he was dating.  (I didn't tell her about my legs.  ;-)
  • Dancing tango in Washington, DC in 2016, a woman remarked that she loved my cologne. She asked what it was. "Cartier," I said. "I got it in France." That surely set off her gaydar. So she sent out another gaydar signal to be sure. "Who makes it?" she said.  "I don't know," I said. "Oh, well I guess that means you're not gay," she assured me. According to her gaydar scope, if I had known who made the cologne, that surely would have confirmed my gayety. As always, I took note.
  • A salsa partner years ago taunted me with her gaydar because I was not interested in her. "You are a good dancer, and my theory is that a man has to be gay if he is a good dancer." She was baiting me, jealous of the woman I was dating with whom I had just broken up. She was implicitly trying to have me prove myself and my sexual identity or be labeled in her inner circle of friends.  Again, I took note.
  • In 2012 I lived in Germany when my female coworkers found out that I like to dance. Their gaydar was set off unwittingly by my Cuban boss who told that them that my girlfriend and I were avid tango dancers. They told me later that they first had assumed I was gay. Again I took note. Another department at the hospital knew I danced, and when I said I was engaged to a French woman, they all checked their gaydar and agreed that it was a decoy--until they met her at an organizational dinner.
  • When I was deployed to Egypt in the Army, a staff sergeant said that our Executive Officer was gay (according to his gaydar).  "I can see it a mile away," he told a group of us as we sat eating at the chow hall. "Really?" I thought. "I don't see that!"  But I took note.
  • My ex-wife and mother of my two children took some of my personal letters to court from my gay musician and church friend (mentioned above).  She argued to the court that I should be limited in my ability to see my two children because I had a gay friend. The female judge had asked my children if they wanted to stay with me until Monday mornings every other week. The judge allowed and then disallowed my request because of this damning "evidence." At that time I wasn't even living in the homophobic US, I was living in a country that made homosexual people wear pink triangles on their clothes in 1938 before eventually killing many of them. Gaydar.  Toxic laser rays.
  • Lastly on this abbreviated list: Long ago, my ex-brother-in-law (divorced for a very good reason), was imprisoned for having killed a man whom he had thought was trying to seduce him.  Gaydar is not funny for any man, especially a gay man.
Gender imbalance harms the health and longevity of tango because a large part of the world's population is or wishes to be perceived as heterosexual. The larger part of female dancers would prefer to dance with a man, even in spite of great women dancers who know both roles very well. Too many women are sitting and unhappy with the state of affairs in tango's gender imbalance in many countries. 

Tangdar
The casualties of gaydar are mostly the men who never show up to dance. If men are even afraid for their lives--and they have every right to be--I hope that I have influenced a few people to put away their gaydar, especially in our non-violent, non-judgemental tango community.  I have promised myself to keep my own gaydar scope to myself and to ask others to keep theirs as a "concealed weapon"(before someone gets hurt)! Another positive step, too, is to think of ways to inspire men to join our dance community. It's about time we start reversing the damage already done.  Replace it with finding guys who have warm embraces and move their bodies as if controlled by the music. This is Tangdar--the ability to spot future tangueros and nurture them that they may find their dancing self.


Photo credit:
https://theoutdoorland.com/best-scopes-for-coyote-hunting/




Addendum:
Before you buy your very own gaydar mug (yes, they are for sale), you should know that the definition is not accurate. The real definition is: "The stupidly proud, usually erroneous and sometimes dangerous belief that one has the ability to correctly label people as gay."




Thursday, October 31, 2019

Why your tango seems like an addiction


Tango itself is a wonderful activity that has no dark properties that are any different than other wonderful things in life, such as holding a child, surfing a wave, watching a sunset, listening to an inspiring live concert, or simply "dancing for joy." Tango is not an addiction.  If you agree then there is no reason to read farther! However, if you are not so sure, then read on.

Why your tango may seem like an addiction
When tango is paired with behaviors that color it in the dark, smokey hues of a private cigar and brandy club, then it may seem like an addiction.  Late-night venues with alcohol are the last vestige of tango-as-an-addiction.  There used to be more unhealthy things tied to tango, such as fights, knives, prostitutes, thick clouds of secondary smoke filling your lungs, fierce competition for competition's sake, men and women looking for love or a night of pleasure. These things are still possible; however, tango itself is slowly distilling down to its primal essence as a healthy avocation that focuses on the dance and the music.

So if you feel that you are "addicted" to tango, then look at the things you have paired it with.  Is your tango community toxic or your dance partner or tango teacher? Are you obsessed with buying tango clothes?  Are you spending impulsively on endless lessons that have made tango the most expensive hobby in your life?  Is there an obsessive drive to be acclaimed in your tango performance skills that cannot be quenched, leading to a very dark dead-end street of getting older and unable to keep up?  Even then, these are obsessions and compulsions, not "addictions."

The dark side of tango is not the dance called tango.  Even the dark side (obsessions and compulsions) are not usually addictions unless you are snorting coke or drinking excessively with your tango.  Yet to have the full joy of tango, these must be "surgically removed," which means to stop pairing stimuli (tango and smoking or tango and drinking or tango and sleep deprivation, or tango and toxic relationships).  Dissect your tango and leave the good part and eschew that which is not good for you.

And what is left?

Musicality, a great embrace, the joy of movement, and mindful-flow.  This is not an addiction.  This is the pure joy of tango.





Photo credit and article on addiction
https://theconversation.com/is-addiction-a-brain-disease-51248

Sunday, September 15, 2019

The one behavior that helps us survive psychological trauma

He danced great as a baby, but now says he can't dance. 
What happened?



Homo sapiens are hardwired as the dancing animal.

How is it that many of my friends, family, and colleagues say, "I cannot dance," or "I have two left feet"? Even if you have some friends who can dance, how is it that there's a good chance that they bemoan that their life-partner cannot dance?  How is it that the dancing animal believes that it is not hardwired into the human psyche? Growing up as a white, heterosexual male in a country that sees dance as unimportant, I have a few theories and anecdotes to tell. But not today. I would like to focus on why homo sapiens dance when they hear music even if they had never seen anyone dance. It's fascinating!  And dance is not a random trait.  It's all about survival from psychological trauma.

Survival of the Fittest [Dancers]
Dance has long been associated in human history to survival.  Dance is continuously and ubiquitously supporting psychological wellbeing:


  • Dances of birth, new beginnings
  • Dances for courting a mate
  • Wedding dances
  • Dances of celebration, like coming of age
  • War dances
  • Dances telling the story after war and other human tragedies
  • Dance for rain during droughts; dances of celebration after it rains
  • Dances to express each and every human emotion.

These dances often have their focus on the survival of the person, or perhaps the group, even the race. Nerdy scientists (who often don't dance or see dance as superficial or even primitive) don't seem to even wonder why humans dance. Certainly, evolutionists seem particularly inept at seeing this link, even when it is under their noses:  If dance is hardwired into our brains, then survival is behind it.  Those who dance (along with musicians) know the answer in their gut: We dance to survive. In a world experiencing an international epidemics of suicide, this should be clear:  Wellbeing = survival.

After years of being a musician, then a dancer and now a trauma therapist, it seems pretty clear to me. As we have evolved, music and dance help us survive terrible things like slavery, sexual assault, and war.  No wonder that the great dances of the Americas were started by slaves! Have troubles in your life? Then the music and dance will come to you in the form of the blues, or melancholy country or tango. And of course, music and dance are there to celebrate life too, which, in turn, also helps us survive.  Dance meets us as infants and follows us through life.

I am not sure about you, but I need to deal with the many psychologically difficult events in my life through music and dance. Movement--like walking and running or biking or swimming is great--I know, my "therapy" was once completing an Ironman Triathlon while I was living in a little a town without dance.  But what movement has the most psychological benefits over all other movements?  Dance.  Please don't repeat the shoe company ad, "Just Do It!"  No.

 Just dance. Survive.