In fusion and blues dance, there is a term called blackout dance that refers to a dance with someone where you feel that nothing exists except the two of you, the world around you melts away, and you are “one” for the length of that song (or songs). It is almost at the status of mythical – that such a bond can form between two people who know nothing about each other and suddenly feel they have complete understanding of the other. Oddly enough, it usually only happens with newer dancers who are already in a vulnerable place on the dance floor and often when you’re so tired that you have no energy to hold up your emotional walls.
I was lucky enough to experience an entire year of at least one blackout dance every time I went to a dance. It was what I knew. It was all I knew. I saw them coming, I could choose them (sometimes). In my mind, I could decide whether or not to connect with someone – and if I chose to, I would. And they would feel it too. But the best ones were the ones I had no choice at all – the ones that came out of the blue and ripped my world apart.
There are so many people in my life from that year where I said “Yes” to a dance and instantly, we were taken to a different world. I believed I knew them. I believed they knew me. I believed I was seen and vice versa. Maybe I was and they were. They are all still in my life in some way. I am still drawn to them like before, but now with caution.
The reality is, the only common link between all these “blackout” dances…was me. And this wasn’t something that existed only on the dance floor. People were falling in love with me left and right. I don’t say that to brag; it was actually quite terrifying. I felt somehow responsible for all of these people’s emotions. I kept asking : “What am I doing to attract this? Am I the one causing the destruction in people’s lives? Why are they choosing me over everything else?”
I was not the attractor of people who could participate in blackout dances…I was a blacklight myself. For the first time in my life, I felt loved and accepted as I was by anyone I wanted – but much later, I realized it was my desire and almost *need* for that attention I wasn’t getting elsewhere that brought it to me and what I received was not necessarily love and acceptance as much as it might have been a result of others’ hunger and want of inspiration and change. It was everything in my whole life that I had known falling apart around me that brought me to the dance floor and to life with this dire urgent need for *something else* and I didn’t care what it was. With this need and this urgency being projected out of me like a big spotlight on others, it made them feel like the center of my universe. And in some ways, they were. Because I wasn’t. I did not exist.
There is this huge part of me that misses being the spotlight – the feelings that came from being a mirror to others’ need, others’ hunger, others’ want for love and acceptance. The intensity of that time in my life may never be matched – either in joy or in sorrow. Even though I see the result of it – having chased so many of those blackout dance partners to a dead-end and finding so many of them ending in pain – I still want that passion for life again, that feeling of walking on the dance floor and knowing I will connect with someone (even if I didn’t want to sometimes), or that feeling of walking through the world sure I will be the center of someone’s life (even for a little while).
Going to dance now is a different place for me. It isn’t a world I can escape to like I used to. It is just another facet of the world I always exist in. A dance is (usually) just a dance now. Even a really good dance. I say “thank you” and I walk away. We may meet again, dance again, connect again – but if it is love or true understanding, I keep it there on the floor. If it’s really love, it can wait. Most likely, I’m just a mirror of their hurt and pain and need…and that doesn’t mirror my own anymore. I see the drug (dopamine) addiction here now and I’m not interested – not when I know what it will end with. But damn, the high was so good.
I have found myself blaming the dance scene, blaming the community around me for not giving me that high I miss – and of course find the only link between my experiences to again be me. The high is, I see, not really the point. The high of the blackout life is the result of need, of hunger, of wanting so badly to connect. But for what? The follow-up catastrophic low?
I see why a blackout dance is put on such a high pedestal and I was lucky enough to exist in this state for a very long time. But I can speak from experience that enjoying it in the moment is much more worthwhile then chasing its potential.