Play off your partner—he has emotions, too, and you can feel them in the dance. Have you danced with him before? Many times? Never before in your life? None of that matters. If you know him, you have a relationship that you must at the same time remember completely and forget utterly. Approach this dance as something completely new. Don’t think about how you felt when you danced with him last time, or worry about following a new lead. Just let the dance progress as you would a spur-of-the-moment relationship: throw yourself into the music wholeheartedly and don’t think twice about anything. Fall in love with what is in front of you right now: you, your partner, and the music are the only things that exist on the earth when you begin to dance, because here, tonight, there is a beat on the dance floor that calls to your body and a melody that calls to your soul, and you are going to take this sublime moment that only exists once, and you are going to dance.
Don’t let this moment escape you—it could turn out to be the best dance of your life.
Take a good look at your partner. How is he dressed? What kind of mood do you think pointed him to the clothes he is wearing tonight? What about yourself? What do your clothes say about your dancing and your mood? Have you both been dancing so hard that you’re slick with sweat, or is every hair still in place because you just got here? Ask yourself why. Question everything about your current state, including why you are there. Did you come to dance with friends? To show off? To blow off steam? To impress someone? For the exercise? Because you were bored and had nothing else to do?
We have many reasons for dancing and they all have their places. In my mind, the best one is because we have to. It’s that feeling you get when you’re in a restaurant for dinner and what David and I call “Eduardo-class music” comes on. The kind of music that affects you before you consciously hear it, the kind that has your fingers tapping clave before you realize that a song is playing. That moment when we feel that sitting still would kill us, that we must get up and dance or we will die…that moment of passion is the one that defines us. Not whether we actually get up and dance, as there are times when it is impossible or inappropriate, but that the overwhelming desire to dance takes over our entire consciousness to the point where a disaster could occur or someone could walk in naked and we wouldn’t even notice, so bound to the music are we at that moment.
When we dance, no matter the reason, we should strive to be as unconsciously and wholeheartedly focused on the dance, on the music, and on our partner as we are when that feeling of being utterly compelled to dance comes upon us. If we feel no change when we dance, then we are ignoring all the factors that have the power to affect us at that exact moment in time, and we are missing an experience that we will never have the chance to repeat.
So when you dance, don’t do it because someone asked you, or because you need the practice, or because you have nothing else to do, or because you feel good tonight.
Do it because you need to dance, and because you want to.