Dear Dance Diary…

October 25th, 2015.

Dear Dance Diary,

I was surprised to see that the last time I wrote to you was not just last year, but last year on my mom’s birthday. I don’t remember that. Why didn’t I talk about my mom that day in my writing to you? Maybe I was trying not to reveal too much of my personal self on my blog, maybe I was preoccupied with other parts of my life.  Whatever it was, I am going to talk about my mom now. She is always on my mind and heart, and I’ve learned that life is too short to keep our real thoughts to ourselves. I wish I had revealed my thoughts about her, to her, more often. But now, my mom is gone and I am feeling lost and in shock, at how much can change in just over a year.

At first, I thought I couldn’t dance. I didn’t want to dance. It seemed so cruel to do something so enjoyable, and social and free when I should be mourning my mom. But I now feel as if it’s the only way I will find myself again. I actually feel like I need to lose myself in dance so that I don’t feel overburdened by grief and sadness. I need your help, Dance Diary. I need you to promise me that you will keep me dancing. I need you to show me opportunities, openings, to delve deeper into dance and feel it more passionately than I ever have before. I want to dance for my mom. Maybe my moving through space and this time I have here will somehow reach my mom- through some crazy, powerful, dance energy. After all, that is what my site is about- the power of dance to heal, to free.  And both my mom and I need healing right now. I need to find ways to feel her. And so this is it. I need to live up to my name- Surrender. I need to surrender, to give myself up wholly and completely to Dance.  Please help me through it. Please guide me and encourage me, and challenge me. I need this right now. I need YOU right now.  I need to prove that I am Laila’s Daughter- a fighter, someone who never gives up.  I need to believe in myself and make my mom proud. Dance.  I’m all yours.  Take me where you will. I am ready.

March 16th, 2014.

Dear Dance Diary,

I haven’t written here for some time because I think I haven’t felt inspired a lot lately, especially social dancing.  But tonight was different.  I ventured out to Coalescence – a local blues dancing night- (check out for more information on Blues and Fusion dance in Vancouver).  I wasn’t sure if I had made the right decision before I got there. It was late, I was a little tired, but more than that I have been feeling a little dissatisfied with various areas of my life and wondered how I could be going out dancing when I had so many “more important” things to sort out.

But as soon as I walked in, I felt this great energy. The place wasn’t packed with people by any means. In fact, there seemed to be fewer dancers there tonight than on some nights.    But everyone who was there seemed really engrossed in their dance. I just stared for a moment and I know a smile came over my face as I looked around the movement of the room.  I’m sure the vibe had a lot to do with the music, and so shortly after I arrived, I made my way to the DJ booth.  I had to introduce myself to the DJ- Stacy- and thank her for her amazing playlist.

All her songs were great.  And they just got better as her set continued.  I was in heaven, wanting to dance to each and every track. I think I had forgotten what that felt like.  The songs were so good that even when I wasn’t dancing to them- if the leads were all taken up- I was still enjoying the moments watching others.  And some people just danced on their own in the middle of the dance floor, over taken by the beat and rhythm and lyrics.  My favorite was watching one of the regulars- Britain- dance on his own to ‘Don’t Worry Be Happy’. He just embodied the lyrics, without a care in the world, letting himself move however the music made him.  So playful, fun, and ‘happy’.

blues dancing

It was all about feeling tonight- whether I danced, watched others express themselves through dance, or just sat and listened to the music.  Each song I did dance was unique and made me FEEL what dancing should be, I think.  That’s something I’ve been missing for awhile now.  That FEELING, you know what I mean?  And funny enough, I have been thinking that there seems to be something missing in my everyday life lately as well- my life outside of dancing.  Holes that needed to be filled- with a person, or relationship?  Or a trip or a place I need to get to or find?  Or an achievement, a goal or attainment of some kind?  Something that I should be doing that I’m not?   Well, tonight, the music, the connection with partners, the contrast between my light, small frame in different leads’ firm, yet fluid arms, and my feet pressing into the floor… all of it started filling these gaps I thought were so hollow before.  And who would have known that all I needed to feel WHOLE again was a few two to three- minute connections, without words.  Just the music and our bodies telling the story of how WE feel it.

And now, instead of empty, I feel this overflow of gratitude, inspiration and a yearning for learning even more about this beautiful form or expression!  And I am so excited to have met two beautiful dance teachers from out of town tonight- Lucas and Jeannie- in the midst of all the magic of tonight.  Watching them reminded me of why I dance in the first place, and talking to them about their classes has given me something new to focus on and look forward to.  I am thrilled to get the opportunity to learn from these fun, creative, and knowledgeable instructors.  And Lucas ended up being the second DJ of the night, which meant the music continued to inspire more imaginative movement.

I didn’t want to leave, and almost stayed until the end of the night, without even realizing how much time had passed.  I did eventually pull myself out of there, you bet I will make space for more nights like these in my life, because, as I’ve told myself time and time again, dance is some powerful stuff!  And I want to be surrounded by its magic.  It can change us, make us grow, motivate us, and turn around our whole outlook on ourselves and our lives as a whole. And once again, it did just that for me tonight.  Whooh!  DANCE ME FREE!

February 12th, 2014.

Dear Dance Diary,

I know you put a brief pause on time so that I could get to my dance class tonight.  It was not really ‘possible’ for me make it considering how late I left my place, I was on an empty tank of gas, I got stuck in traffic because of night construction, and I was low in energy myself for the past couple of days so was moving a lot slower than usual. My mind kept telling me that I wasn’t going to make it to class, especially after stopping at the gas station for a few minutes, but once the car was refueled, for some reason, I kept driving out of North Vancouver and towards Broadway Ballroom.

Time-Stops-for-No-One-1I swear I wasn’t speeding. Anyone who knows me knows I drive like a granny and today was no exception. And when I looked at my clock in the car, I only had about five minutes to get to the dance studio and I wasn’t even at Main Street yet, which is at least ten minutes away, if not more, from where I was headed.

Why didn’t I leave early? I haven’t been feeling great for a couple of days.  I have had a pounding headache that has lasted more than twenty four hours and I was told by my doctor yesterday that I have unusually low blood pressure.  I was also feeling quite dizzy this morning. So I guess I wasn’t sure if I should even go out to class tonight.  Even if I made it to the class, would I even last through it, I wondered.

But you got me there despite all this. I guess you knew I really needed it.   And as I walked into Broadway Ballroom, and slipped on my jazz shoes at the back of the little studio behind the other students who were still doing the warm up, I ‘forgot’ about any of the problems in my body.  My body forgot, actually, because it had other things to think about:  ‘Really slide into the move and use your hands’, ‘jump and then cross over’, ‘What comes after the ronde again?’, ‘Listen for the cymbals’, ‘tap on the one’, ‘ground into the two’, ‘flick your head back when your right foot steps forward’, and ‘lead the roll with your shoulder’.  My body was so engrossed in the instructions, given by my instructors Kristal and Wayne (of Baza Dance), and so energized by the music and the fun choreography that we got to play around with, that it had no time to worry about the heaviness that weighed me down less than an hour earlier.  And I couldn’t believe how that hour of class went by so quickly. But in such a short amount of time, I felt so much lighter in my limbs, and refreshed in my spirit after I left.

Dance. You did it again.  Thank you.


October 4th, 2012.

A couple of days ago, I could feel my back and neck tighten up from stress and worry.  The obvious solution would be to just stop worrying, as most people were trying to get me to do that day. But it really is easier said than done.  And I guess I had so much on my mind that besides the aches in my body, I also was getting a pressure headache, that was shooting from around the back of my neck into the back of my head and all the way up and
around to my temples.  My body didn’t feel relaxed at all, and I wasn’t sure how I’d be able to relieve myself of the discomfort.

I knew I needed to find something to take my mind off of everything.  And I had been considering using up my last three passes to some ballroom classes I’d been taking on and off at the Grand Ballroom for the past few months.  But the studio was way out in Richmond, a good forty minute drive from where I was, and I wasn’t sure if I would be able to enjoy the class with my head feeling so heavy.

But a talk with my friend Renee, as well as knowing that going home was not going to make me feel better, made me decide to venture out to Richmond before the rush hour traffic began. And it turned out to be a cool, but sunny day, so the drive was actually really easy.  So easy that I actually got to the Grand Ballroom considerably early.  But I went into the studio anyway, sat with a couple of hot cups of tea that is provided for any visitors.  And I pulled out my Spanish book that I was reading.  And as I sipped the tea, and breathed in  its earthiness, it felt like one of the first moments in the day that I just actually took in the moment.

And as I became fascinated by some of the new Spanish vocabulary I was picking up from my book, I also became surrounded by some beautiful Viennese Waltz Music. At least I think that’s what it was. Because there, in front of me, were two dancers- dance instructors actually- using up the enormous dance floor to practise some of their waltz steps. And as they glided across the floor, in unison, with heads and backs arched a little back and to the left, I felt like I was being taken on the dancing journey with them for a brief amount of time.

It was amazing to see, and as the music, and the couple, and the tea, and Spanish sentences warmed me, something in my body started to relax. I wasn’t consciously aware of it at the time, I don’t think. But as the evening went along, and I joined a large class of other students learning to waltz, I found myself laughing, and playing and freeing my body and mind of a lot of the tension that had built up before.

Some of the worries crept in here and there at the start of the class, but once we really got into the lesson, I was concentrating on something outside of myself, something greater and something that seemed more powerful than all the worries.  The crazy jokes from the instructor, the connection between me and my partner (even though she ended up being female- one of the instructors!) and the way the music seemed to hypnotize and move me, actually made me smile.

But I think the thing that warmed me the most was this young Indian couple – the JJ’s they were called- because both their names began with a J.  The way they held hands, the way they laughed, and looked at each other with each step. The way they embraced- it just allowed me to exhale some of my worries away.  There was something in them that they radiated outwards- innocence, hope, love, youth, and pure happiness- that made me share some of those feelings too. And it brought back memories of instances when I felt that way.

I love the way dance can do that, how music and movement, and connection between strangers, even when they don’t even know they’ve touched you, can be better than therapy sometimes. It can put a little peace back into your mind and heart, and put your body at ease, exactly in the places where you needed it the most.


August 20th, 2012.

Tonight, I went out to the La Lunita Milonga, my favorite place to tango dance in Vancouver. I haven’t been dancing tango much at all in the past couple of years or more for sure.  And often times, because of that, when I DO go out, I feel a bit awkward and I get frustrated at how much I seem to have ‘forgotten’.

But tonight, it was different. My body remembered. I mean, it didn’t remember all the technique or every step and piece of advice I have been given over my experience with learning the dance.  But it remembered to just let go and feel, not always, but it remembered at moments. And during those moments, something else came back to me that I thought had been lost forever, or at least until the next time I would go travel a long distance again to see it- Argentina.  I felt it tonight  As I floated across the room, moving with my partner as one, my eyes closed, and not knowing where I was in the room, just trusting and surrendering, it was there. The cool of the fan in one corner of the room, as blew across my back and neck in the middle of the dance like the evening breeze on my many strolls down avenida 9 de julio.

‘Moreno y Piedras,’ spilled out of my mouth effortlessly as an older Argentinian man, at the end of the night, asked me where I had stayed in Buenos Aires. It threw me off how quickly I was able to respond, because before tonight, those street names had escaped me. I have not been able to remember them for a long time now.  But so much started coming back.  Even the Spanish, the castellano use of vos, just rolled off my tongue, when it hasn’t been for awhile now.   Maybe it’s not as fluent as I would like, but it was definitely there. And for a moment, I was too… there… in Argentina again, or maybe it came to see me this time.

I used to say that there was nothing like dancing tango in Argentina, because it’s not just a dance there, and it’s not just about the great dancers.  It’s that even the buildings that the milongas are housed in ooze the history of the dance. Before you even begin dancing, the space in which the tango is played and danced takes your breath away.  When I used to walk into La Catedral or La Ideal in Buenos Aires, I could feel how the walls held secrets, tango secrets, of all the people who had been there, embraced there, mingled, flirted, and were forever changed by the tango.   I might not know their names or the details of what was whispered in ears, but I could feel them. And let me tell you, that’s some powerful stuff- intoxicating, and exhilerating, and almost addictive- leaves you wanting more.  I thought I could never find it again unless I went back to Argentina. .

But tonight, I think pieces of Buenos Aires were with me- they came in and out- throughout the night.  And the magic of that, the pleasure it gave me, the memories it made me recall of my time in that beautiful, deep, soulful city, have come alive in me again. So much so that I cannot wait until the next time I am surrounded by tango music and people dancing to it so passionately around me.  I cannot wait to be touched by tango and be brushed by its birthplace all over again.  Tango = Magic. It really does.

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