Saturday, September 23, 2006

Dance is Religion.

I was watching ABC television the other night and got blissed out by the kid's ballroom dancing championships, particularly at the end when the 7 year old boy and his inspired partner did a Latin jive, he had that extra spark, delighted in the dance, semi lost himself as if entranced and trully danced with spirit, and the girl matched his exilaration with joyful verve, they seemed to levitate as they skipped about, and they won their section of the national championships, for rythm with spirit is much hallowed.

Humanity has had a long love affair with 'dance', it's a telling part of what makes us the ebullient species we are, reinforcing our consciousness of being, then uplifting us out of alienating mundanity and melding us as one with the universe. Chimpanzees have been known to dance ecstatically when lightning-storms explode, and I suspect dance was humanity's first art-form, preceding rock painting and even music making, for moving the body rythmically matches the swaying of the natural environment, gets the heart pumping and the muscles rippling, a massage for body, mind and soul given by life in a crushing embrace. Thus 'dance' became entwined with the first religious awakenings.

When I was 7 Elvis Presley had just performed "Jailhouse Rock" and blown my burgeoning soul to 7th heaven with his hip-swinging, leg-swivelling raunch, and even tho dancing was considerd sissy I enthusiastically jumped up at any given opportunity, participating in my highschool folk-dancing classes and jumping about to the radio like Mick Jagger as I vacumed my mother's loungeroom floor. Then I was 12 and I'll never forget the look of chagrin on my father's face when at one of the family barbecues I performed a frenetic "twist", the hit dance of the moment, like a whirling-dervish I spun the other kids off the floor, and it was then he realised I was irrevocably 'gay', it was in my bones and leapt out outrageously when music beckoned it. (Not that all dancers turn out to be homo, but it sure provides that extra swish.)

Whatever the trend I jumped to it, the Surfie stomp, the Sharpie shuffle, the Mod shake, the Frug, Swim, Watusi and Go-go, disco dancing allowed everybody to share the charisma of pop-stars, and bodies were liberated to move free-form, with no clinging partner and staid formalities to obey. The hippies cut loose entirely, flinging themselves about in gay abandon, even clothes were discarded, no rules, just epileptic cavorting to psychedelic rock. What a fool one can look on the dance-floor, making the most idiotic of moves for the sniggering bemusement of the too-cool onlookers, but they're the ultimate bores, fuck being cool, I only want fun, dancing is a kind of extreme sport, super-exilarating, it's in the blood and I don't worry about playing the divine fool, the madness is my excuse.

At 18 I joined a modern dance troupe, jazz ballet and experimental movement the catchcry, we put on performances several times a year and my Nijinski nature took over, I danced lasciviously on stage in my jockettes with my cock semi-erect to the great embarrassment of my family who had proudly attended the show thinking I was doing a demure "Nutcracker Suite". I took dance seriously, it was enmeshed with my soul, it was my sport, hobby, religion and epiphany, and no celebration was replete without it. I'd like to say I've had 777 good times in my life, flying in a two-seater plane into the Simpson's desert, riding motor-bikes atop the Himalayas, jet-speed-boating up the Ganges River, walking the Minoan Labyrnth in Crete and meditating upon Notre Dame in Paris, yet of all these intense pleasures the 77 most mind-blowing and ecstatic usually involved dancing with an ebullient crowd on the dance-floor, Heaven at times got touched, Paradise entered, Nirvana experienced.

The first of these 77 exquisite epiphanies that I can remember, apart from all the pop-dancing as a teenager, happened when I was 23 on New Year's Eve, that ultimate pagan celebration, 1972/73 on the jungle beaches of Goa. I'd run away to India to find self-realization and ended up being feaked-out, joining the roving tribe of international freaks that layabout the temples and chai-shops, and and it was in Goa that we spent the winter, following the sun. We lived naked in grass huts, cooked communally and practiced yoga, made art, discussed philosophy and let it all hang out at the parties where the fruit salad served up was laced with massive doses of pure LSD. I unwittingly ate a huge serve then had the Universe melt-down upon me, we danced atavistically around a huge bonfire on Anjuna beach, leaping thru the flames, harkening back to our animal antecedents, and I transcended my materialist hang-ups and flew on a winged horse to the celestial realms where I recharged my inner-light. No party has ever quite equalled it tho there were many other fabulous peaks to reach.

When I finally crash-landed in Sydney in '77 it was for the New Year's bash at the Haymarket where AC/DC gave a free concert, I flipped in front of a bouncing Bon Scott and found myself washed-up in Darlinghurst the next day, never to leave. The Punk sub-cult exploded and swept me along, at the raw garage-band gigs the rambunctious crowd slam-danced, grappled, po-goed and thrashed, like riders of a rough surf we threw each other about, recieving black-eyes, bloody noses, falling to the floor and being stomped upon till a fellow Punk picked you up and threw you back into the fray, the electric-base guitar ripping your nerves into ecstacy, Punk was the ultimate dance-fun. Selina's rock'n'roll gladiator pit at Coogee Beach was the hottest venue, I clearly recall the bliss of head-banging to the Cramps, Primus, Butthole Surfers, Iggy Pop and Screaming Jay Hawkins, electric music was the ruling sub-cult and we were like worshippers at the fountainhead when surfing the electric sound-waves. The penultimate gig for me would have to be Johnny Lydon's "Public Image Limited" bringing down the roof at the Tivoli on George Street, New Year's Eve 1982 (?), Sylvia and I had eaten some gold-top mushrooms and then grappled so madly with the small crowd even the Rotten One got excited, warbling and hopping about, we all seemed to come in our pants together as our heads hit the ceiling.

(Not that this rant is an endorsement of drug abuse, I feel inebriation is part of pagan celebration, has been thru the long history of our evolution and involvement with a sacralised universe, it helps bring on the ecstatic trance, whether it's wine, ganjha or MDMA, but it should be only for sacred occassions and in moderation, like 4 times a year, not for habituation which is way too tedius. I was a naive young fool when I took psychedelics in the '70s, it was a renegade shrink who first gave them to me in 1969 to ameliorate my teenage depression, I got a taste for the intense visionary euphoria that LSD can induce and imbibed enough to take me on many psycho-celestial flights but not burn my braincells out. But I wouldn't recommend it to anyone as it's a dangerous drug and can flip the weak-linked out irrevocably, especially the bad Acid that's pushed these days, everybody trying to harken back tothe good old days when LSD was pure, fresh and empowering, and getting poisoned bummers for their efforts. I always obey that famous Timothy Leary caveat, "dosage, set and setting", i.e. the right drug for your constitution, the people you feel safe to do it with, and the place where the partying happens should be indusive to joy.)

Then Heavy Metal and Grunge music took over and we rolled around in drunken melee in the mosh-pit, it felt like electric guitar reached an apotheosis that hasn't been beaten yet, our nervous systems short-circuited in bliss, electricity was god. As for the Ausie band that jumped me out of my skin the most, I have to admit it was the pop-rock of "The Divinyls" that pleasured me, I chased them all over the State, my favourite gig the one at the Ballina "wet T-shirt" dive up on the surfer's north coast, a gang of Byron Bay dykes had a brawl in front of Chrissie Amphlet and we all came away with bruises we danced and laughed so hard. And I'll never forget that New Year's party at Jellyheads garage in Chippendale, a sound-artist made quadrophonic electro symphonies that turned me on wickedly, a pity the artist committed suicide not long after when fame didn't come quick enough for him.

There was hip-hop and break-dancing, gang-fights went "Westside Story" and dance challenges proved hip superiority better than fisticuffs, just like in the movies we found each other on the dance floor and legged each other up to higher levels of frenetic rythm. By the '90s the crowds of punters wanted more participation with the music, they took over the gigs with the huge dance party phenomenom and the evolution of techno, "raves" and "doofs" were the rage and trance dancing as one collective million-legged creature ruled. I saw in the recent dance movie, "Rise", the ghetto kids announcing they'd invented fast dancing to beat the crime wave and tune into Christ, but they're kidding themselves, at the "doofs" we've been flipping the wig, moving like "the Flash", shimmy-shaking to the max while they were still on their mother's tit. I've thrown my arms to the sky at many "raves", as if we humans were at the Appocolypse at the end of history and were dancing our way to Heaven, when it all goes up in flames I will dance as the last of my "human" efforts to participate with an awesome universe.

Unforgettable of such collective flights was the techno party I attended in Lille France, in the same pavillion where I'd won the International Trash Film Award in '96. I didn't quite twig that the people of Northern France have an especial love for Aussies due to our forbear's heroics there in the World Wars, they feted me like a special emmissary from Freaksville, Auz, and I danced in their circle's centre buoyed up by their enthusiatic whistles. The best D.J. in France threw his switches and, still being ecstatic from my win, I tossed inhibitions to the techno winds and danced with the French crowd like pagans in the ancient oak forests, we got on top of a crashing wave, reached a peak, melted in euphoria as the movement meshed us together, no borders, no class, no race or religion, just human flesh tossed about by collective spirit. Soooo way-out!

I could wank on about high times forever, but I'll culminate this rave with the Goan trance parties of the '90s, coming full circle to where my ecstatic dance-quests got launched. For the last ten years I've milled with the international freak set at the Christmas/New Years festivities on the Indian beaches, the wildest scene imaginable, hordes of veritable jungle bunnies bopping frantically to the primeval techno beats as if in a prehistoric fertility rite, epileptic writhing on the dance floor like voodoo zombies, tramping rythmically like an army of love-crazed peace warriors, frolicing psychedelic cyber-punks with tattoos, dreadlocks, body-pierced, hair frizzed, bones thru noses, neo-primitives, all swaying and throbbing as one many-headed monster, a real but transitory Utopia found upon the dance floor, all differences shaken off, only the "dance" left to keep one going.

Nowadays there are even new-age gurus making a buck from conducting cosmic dance sessions, the lemmings needing direction, the rest of us just going for it on the dance-floor with only ourselves as gods, it doesn't need a neo-religion to explain it, 7 million years of evolution can't be wrong, we've always danced, long before churches and mosques were concieved of. Dance recharges the batteries of my soul to keep me going in this wearisome modern world, even old age can't keep this dancer down, on the dance-floor is the fountain of youth, is paradise.

(It's obvious from all this blather that for much of my life I've been a wastrel, a gypsy, a deadbeat adventurer. As a homo I never had to commit or be responsible, the Universe didn't need me to build society with a family. Like a real fucking idiot I did what Leary espoused, I tuned in, turned on and dropped out, as a freak I never belonged or fitted, and so I've gone on from one party to the next, working enough to get me there, living only for the fun, for the dance. Civilisation wouldn't exist if it was up to me, I'd just dance blissfully, indolently, while the world collapsed upon me. I don't give a shit about all humanity's accomplishments, Picasso and Einstein, it'll probably all go up in atomic smoke, and as for success, I danced it.)

Abandoned dancing is like being fucked by the Universe and given the ultimate orgasm, hopefully to be experienced this weekend at the Sleaze Ball, the Spring Equinox equivalent, and I'm ready for a melt-down, so get hip-hopping dear fellow Utopianists and maybe we'll fuck on the dance-floor together!