This weekend I had no commitments to anyone but myself. I found myself exploring dance convention websites, in honor of the one I'm not at this weekend. I saw my teachers in the highlights videos. Then I discovered MADjamTV - the webcast from the convention. I just happened to check it out during West Coast Swing semi-finals, and I absolutely saw names of people I know and names of people I might know, if I were sure of their last names. I'm not kicking myself too much for not going, because there will always be more conventions. Now that I realize it's something I want to do, I know I have a community to help me with the details.
A year ago I'd never heard of such a thing, and the idea of actually going to a social dance was one of those things I wanted to do but would never do because of social anxiety and strangers and being afraid that no one would talk to me or dance with me. The fear of being isolated was too strong. Up until recently I never thought I'd want to go to a convention (again, the fear of being seen to be alone amid a group of strangers) and certainly never thought I'd want to compete.
Dancing has always been part of my life, except during the times that I thought it wasn't available to me - thought there were no classes I would like or the studios were too far away or that I would never be able to go to a social dance unless someone I knew brought me. In the end that was precisely what I needed - someone to hold my hand for just a little while, provide that safety net, look out for me - and then gradually let me go.
I've found that there's a community that doesn't need to know what goes on in my life or my head, or even my last name, just needs to know that I love to dance and will show up most weeks and share the experience. It's a strange kind of attachment in that we touch, laugh, even sweat on each other, and yet know so little about each other. Someone may be a stranger, but given the right song you find yourself held close, breathing their breath, swaying as you find each other in the music, communicating without words, trying on a persona, becoming free.