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DANCE Around the World…

Everyone needs a little bit of song, dance and frivolity to break up the monotony of the daily grind. When’s the last time you let loose on the dance floor? Experimented with a hot, new set of moves?

Did you know that, for some people, the daily grind actually centers around such activity?

No, I’m not just talking about the West End cast of Joseph and the fictional plot of Hairspray.

Or the hardcore, hard drug club-goers with the glow-in-the-dark thingies…

I’m talking about groups of people all over the world—from Durban to Tjapukai—who use dance as a key form of communication in their daily lives.

This is not to say that you—the occasional club-goer—are exempt from such behavioral classifications.

Though I will be focusing on cultural immersion trips and dance excursions (below), I would like to first note few examples of cultural expression via dance that are a bit closer to home.

From my observations, American/British club-going females, often fall under one of the following two categories:

 1. The Performers.

 …who tend to put on nonchalant, “look—I’m so carefree!” shows for male club attendees by bouncing around jovially with their female friends.

 2. The Seducers.

Dance floor seduction, depending on one’s cultural background, can occur in varying degrees of intensity… and can be complimented with certain types of attire (in South Beach, for example, most club-goers will encounter the well-rehearsed gyrations of hundreds of scantily-clad women. Common SB fashion motifs can include (but are not limited to) belly button piercings, backless butterfly tops and hot pants).

Men, being, generally speaking, less fond of the dance floor, have adopted some very endearing survival tactics. Of significance:

1. The Breakers. ( – how cool!)

Break dancing often can signify one’s identity with a hip-hop subculture; the act of breaking can be a conscious or subconscious attempt to impress/attract women of that subculture.

2. The Latin Lovers.

Those who have bothered to pick up Salsa, Rumba, and Merengue moves are screaming “look at me and how cultured/sexy I am!” The worldly Latin dancer is just waiting to spin you back to his bedroom and rock your world…

3. The Gardening Gadget Mimickers.

Those who successfully execute the “sprinkler” and “lawn mower” maneuvers, in tandem with non-rhythmical bounces, want to display their good sportsmanship in an arena of physical activity that induces strong feelings of discomfort (especially when sober). Gardening Gadget Mimickers wish to demonstrate their keen senses of humor: “I may have two left feet, but I’m a shit-kicking good time,” communicates the man with the propelling arm.

4. The Soloist.

The Soloist (frequently of European background) is quite confusing to me, as I hail from an American college culture of sloppy, drunken, and shameless fraternity boys. The European Soloist, at first glance, does not seem interested in engaging with women on the dance floor. But, with careful observation, one can see that the Soloist, operating within his self-contained “box,” may actually be inviting a woman to do the same—to dance just opposite him, but not necessarily touching him. Not sure how erotic/effective/useful this approach actually is? Feedback/thoughts re: Soloists much appreciated…

You may think that I am making this stuff up—I’m not. Pay close attention next time you go out clubbing, and I guarantee that you will observe some of these trends.

Either way, these loaded behaviors are usually confined to a short window of time in a small, dark and sweaty room.

What of the societies mentioned above, where dance holds a central purpose in daily life?

Perhaps you enjoy dancing, but the crowded club isn’t your thing. Or maybe it is, and you need to spice up your repertoire a bit…

Or maybe you have two left feet but love learning about new cultures.Whatever your past travel and dance experience may be, I highly recommend that you expand your horizons, and embark on one of these:

Dance Excursions and Cultural Immersion Trips.

1. Learn to Belly Dance.

Show up the above mentioned “seducers” with newfound Tunisian grooves on a week-long cultural excursion to Hammamet (where you can also ride a camel, hop on a pirate boat, and make mosaics…)

You will learn the art of belly dancing from an experienced instructor on a four day course as you soak in the Mediterranean rays and relax on the nearby white sand beaches. Return with a newfound mastery (oooh…aah…) of the “classic” belly dancing moves…

2. Experience Tjapukai!

Enter the 40,000 year old world of Aboriginal culture by witnessing the Tjapukai Dance Theatre—the first of its kind to be performed for the visiting public. Since 1987, a cross-cultural group of artists have combined their creative talents to celebrate the ancient culture of the Aboriginal rainforest. You will attend their vibrant shows not just as a spectator, but as a performer! Revel in the opportunity to experience an ancient tradition as you join in on some of the lively dance routines to celebrate Australia’s rich heritage.

3. Explore Phezulu

Immerse yourself in the pulsating rhythms of the Zulu dance tradition during a daylong excursion to the Phezulu Cultural Village, just outside of Durban, South Africa. You will witness the entrancing movements of the famous Gasa clan against a truly breathtaking backdrop—the Valley of a Thousand Hills. Learn about their unique lifestyle and customs as you are guided through traditional housing structures and village meeting places.

You will even get the chance to handle snakes (!) at the nearby Assangi Safari Park…

 

Bust a Move!

It’s time to break free from your weekly routine (and from the tired clubbing scene…).

May you LET LOOSE, and DANCE your way around the world!   x

 

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