Last night at the friday-night-free dance I was pondering intoxication. This dance jam has a ‘no drugs’ guideline, and a few nights back in a meeting a community member reacted strongly against it. What if someone smokes before they come to play to calm their anxiety? It only affects their experience, right? The dance goes great and is full of connection, right?
Well… not always. While a few puffs may make a dancer feel like they are connecting with their co-dancers, and responding to the space, that’s not always the external reality. It’s easy to FEEL like you’re connecting with the group, but to the group, the individual is having an isolated, solo, non-responsive dance.
I’m not talking about someone high as a kite, just that the drug gives the sense of connection, so that we don’t need to make an effort. It gives a cloak of bravery so that we feel less vulnerable, but the vulnerability is what allows us to connect.
Of course, some dancers can still connect thru the perceptual fog. We’re in a green-heavy town so it’s hard to say how many people make it part of their daily routine. And of course, some people have no interest in connecting with others on the dancefloor, they came to close their eyes and hear the music. That’s fine.
The community member reacting to this guideline is someone who uses to help calm their nerves in public settings, and considers it akin to taking a medication. In this way, they may be using it to get to a more ‘sober’ state, one that is normal for them, one that is present. That’s where they’re at. Maybe they’ll keep coming and one day they’ll go without for a week or two. Maybe the reason they’re coming will shift and they’ll seek out a mutual connection that’s now only a solo perception.
Last night I was thinking more broadly about intoxication on the dance floor. There was a regular dancer who has a new beau, and they were dancing the ‘new love’ dance. Ooh lala! Gushing googly eyes! They were unaware of the rest of the room. It’s sweet, I’m happy for them, but that kind of internal connection clogs up the dancefloor, just as isolated drug-altered dances do.
On a crowded dancefloor, if a few people are in an intoxicated state, whether by herb or love or anger, it’s easy to navigate around. A strong dance floor ecosystem can support it’s members to have these isolated dances. Sometimes that’s what we need, a place to be ourselves while being supported by community. We also need to remember to give back energy when we’re able to, to not get into a routine of intoxication, so that we can contribute to keeping our dancefloor ecosystem vibrant, connected, and creative.