30 Dec 2019

Dance floor is as good as the bandstand.

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My first foray into the world of expressive arts was as a contra, English country, and square dancer. I spent hours and hours  dancing with hundreds of people, driven by the energy of live music that provided fuel to dance all night. I’ve done that often, and have driven with friends for hours to far away locations, to dance with Ralph Sweet and his band or Wild Asparagus or the Tompkins County Horseflies or Applejack or innumerable numbers  of energetic and talented bands. I remember the sweaty joy of dancing in the great halls of Chelsea House and FoxHollow or the 8th Step Coffee House, or at Pinewoods, Ashokan, Augusta, Swannanoa, and Fiddlehead, or at Brandywine, Galax, Mt. Airy and Union Grove.

My world changed when I discovered clogging, thanks to seeing the Green Grass Cloggers in 1978 at Union Grove and at the Great Hudson River Revival. That passion led me to southern festivals and parties, and to start my own clogging team, the Woodstock Mountain Cloggers. We  performed at local events in the Hudson Valley during the early 1980s. None of this could have happened without exciting music.

The musicians up on stage playing music that brought people up out of their chairs to dance all night seemed live in an exalted world when compared with  mine, down on the floor.  I could never imagine myself in a band. I didn’t play anything; I was a dancer. They were skilled and talented, and wielded power over all of us dancers; when they played with fire, we were on fire. We were ruled by their energy.

Over the decades, as my knees came to dislike dancing, I became a musician,  playing back-up rhythm guitar (in Cajun and old-time styles)  with the same passion that I used to dance. Now it is me, part of the band.  I am up on the stage, inspiring people to dance.

I realize that  am having as much fun playing music as I used to have dancing. I know that fun is where I am, whether it be on the dance floor or on stage in the band. One place is not better than another; each needs the other.

Must be some sort of life metaphor here!


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