Why I Dance: Exploring What Makes People Move

Steal these moves and do the worm to the nearest dancefloor.

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26 February 2018, 4:00am

Illustration by Ben Thomson

The dancefloor can be a space of transgression and transcendence. From New York voguing culture to ballroom dancing contests to nights at the club, dance can (and has) taken hundreds of forms, and is constantly being reinvented. It’s a way for us to connect with others and ourselves—and, importantly, have fun.

While the act of dancing is liberating, dancefloors can be intimidating. We worked with Absolut to create a video dedicated to the power of dance and the idea that we're all equal on the dancefloor, which is one of the ultimate platforms for self-expression. You can watch it below (dare you not to bust out some spaghetti arms).

If you need any further reason to hit the dancefloor, we also asked a bunch of VICE friends about what motivates them to move.

Laura
Dancing is something really special and intimate for me. I love hearing a soulful or funky beat that gets my hips moving. Recently, my relationship to dancing has become more focused on the way my body moves and how so often fat bodies like mine aren’t able to move in public spaces without constantly thinking about how they present to others.

I use dance as a form of self-reflection and self-care when I’m dancing in private. It’s a different story when I’m out listening to a great DJ. I think there’s something powerful in existing in a fat body and simply moving it without hesitation in public spaces. That’s something radical to a lot of people; just refusing to make myself appear smaller on the dance floor is pretty empowering.

I am definitely still a bit shy if I get pulled up to dance but I don’t deny myself as I used to. I got pulled onstage at a show recently. Five years ago I never would have gone up. I would have felt enormously embarrassed, but I got up and danced with a bunch of other wonderful women in front of a crowded room. It’s captivating to dance with other people. I’m always looking for that feeling of connection, and I don’t think I’d ever deny myself the opportunity to dance my heart out at this point in my life.

Jack
Dance has allowed me to move to lots of interesting places and made my life much more diverse. It is a real outlet for my creativity and not something I think I could live happily without.

I love the expressive nature of ballet. Even though it’s technically demanding, the reward of finding individual expression in such tight technical confines makes it all worth it. Ballet is quite raw and exposing, and I like that aspect of it. It humanises people and puts everyone on an even playing field.

Lydia
I started dancing at the age of seven, doing contemporary dance classes, where we had the opportunity to perform and create work as a collective class.

I enjoyed these classes, but it wasn't until I moved to New Zealand and started a youth dance company, Pointy Dog, and had the chance to choreograph my own work that I really fell in love with the form. I loved—and I still love—the freedom of expression that it offers.

The body is a map to be read. Your culture and gender are all read through actions, gestures, and appearance. My passion in dance lies in how to understand these maps, and in turn learn how to perform and craft them. For me, being onstage is where I’m most present, and my body, mind, and emotions are alive. I have the ability to stretch time, to craft the audience’s experience, and perhaps make them think about things in a new light.

Lily
I started pole dancing because I heard it was good core exercise and I always found it hard to motivate myself to exercise, so I thought I'd try something new. I love how you work so hard but it doesn't feel like exercise at all, you don't get sweaty but I’ve gotten so much stronger.

I feel much more confident about myself and my body since I started pole dancing. I hate the stigma that surrounds pole dancing, because it really helped me and I reckon it could help lots of other people feel better about their bodies too.

Amy
I realised a year or so ago that I didn't really have any hobbies. Being 30, I don’t really go out to clubs all the time anymore, so I wasn’t dancing apart from a night out every six months or so. But I really love hip hop and R&B, so started searching for classes in Sydney.

I was really nervous to go to the first class as I was alone and just so self conscious about my body and even being there. I was nervous about not being good, being judged, talking to new people. I stood as far as I could to the back of the room and shuffled around, but in the end the music was great and the teacher was amazing, and I felt like everyone was kind of in the same position as me.

I've been going to classes for just over a year, nearly every week, and now I go straight to the front of the class and care much less about being in front of people. I feel more comfortable in my body and after class I get such a high from it. This has a lot to do with the style of class I go to as there's a huge focus on cultural learning, no mirrors, and just having fun.

This article is supported by Absolut. We’re putting on some dance classes in Sydney on 8th and 9th March, hosted by Groove Therapy and Samuel Beatty. The classes will be held at iconic LGBT venue The Imperial, which has just re-opened to the public. You can RSVP here.