I just read a Harvard Crimson article (linked below) on how joy adds to a healthy and happy life.
One thing that struck me was,
“Loneliness kills… It’s as powerful as smoking or alcoholism.”
Speaking for myself, you all bring joy into my life through dance. Ironically, I mentioned this on Saturday. I joined Gays for Patsy about 10 years ago at a low point — I just broke up and was looking for something to fill that hole in my heart. Okay, honestly, I came looking for a boyfriend. What I got was a community and a bunch of stellar friends.
This winter was rough, it seemed more so with the political climate and so much fear, anger, and agitation. The one thing that got me through was the dances.
Thank you for being my joy.
Thank you for being my friend
Thank you for stepping on my feet.
Get out and dance and smile and meet folks and all that stuff there.
In a recent New York Time’s article, “Walk, Stretch or Dance? Dancing May Be Best for the Brain”, a study found that out of a number of activities given to an aging group of test subjects, country western dancing significantly made a difference in keeping brain function. Granted this is a small study over a short period of time, but anyone who dances knows navigating the dance floor and learning line dances does keep us on our toes (literally and figuratively).
So get dancing
At Gays for Patsy we have offer the following opportunities (akas: dances) to fortify your brain (more info below or click on the links to go to our website):
All are great ways to get out, learn new things and exercise your brain.
Our dances are for everyone though we are mainly a queer organizaiton (LGBTQA+S = Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning, Asexual, and Straight). All we ask is that you don’t care about gender norms and want to have fun.
No experience? We’ll learn ya No partner? We’ll find ya some.
Tuesdays • 7-10 pm
Bella Luna Restaurant and Milky Way Lounge • Jamaica Plain
This is a small venue that we have fun with experimenting with music, line dances, and more. It’s a fun dance that has a bar/restaurant so you can come order a drink or a pizza and enjoy the dance as you go along.
April 15 • 6:30-11 pm
1st UU Church of Jamaica Plain
The space is much bigger than Dirty Water Saloon and has a wonderful dance floor. This month we’re venturing into tango! Patrick and Beth will be teaching a basic tango lesson and Beth will teach a tango based line dance Burlesque, and our DJ Bob will play a mix of two step, west coast, east coast, line dances galore, tango, and a waltz or two.
April 28–30, 2017 — Our 25th year!
Sage Inn and Lounge and Provincetown Town Hall
There’s so much going on this weekend that a quick blurb can’t suffice. With 3½ dances, workshops, and lessons you’ll have a great time. We have Alan Gaskell and Simone teaching the partner dance workshops and offering private lessons! We’ll be teaching 6 line dances this weekend and adding a Sunday t-dance so you can get some dancing in before heading home. But don’t wait to buy your tickets, the “early bird” price will be going away soon and you’ll have to pay full price! There’s a list of discounted guest houses on the site (just mention Stomp).
The Renegaydes are our own performance dance group. You’ll see them at our Spring Stomp, our Pride dance, and the IAGLCWDC (International Association of Gay and Lesbian Country Dance Clubs) convention in Miami. Come check them out. They’re working on a fun routine choreographed by Bucky Chappell. It should be fun. The Renegaydes also has a facebook page at GFPRenegaydes.
Last night I woke from a dream where I was in a NY-esque subway where a cluster of families in ethnic garb were trying to get to the safe house. It looked like a wedding party — joy and fear were around. People were jeering at them. In the dream I helped create a safe passage and asked the jeering crowd, “who here is not a descendant of illegal aliens?” I think this dream came by a combo of St. Patrick’s Day and looking at the news before bed. Both sets of my great grandparents came from different parts of Ireland to escape famine and persecution. I think of the Jewish who escaped genocide and the Africans who were brought here without consent. How our “great” American forebearers killed indigenous cultures in our settling of this nation. And that we have the gall to single out people because they want to come here to make a life or have a different view?
In the dream I tried to help but in my everyday life, what is it I do to help?
When I became president of Gays for Patsy — a lgbtqa+s* country western dance club — a few years back, I didn’t know a thing about running a group or the dances: I just liked to dance. As I became the de-facto spokesperson (a challenge for an introvert, I’ll tell ya), I’ve been slowly trying to learn more about the dance, being a host, and making people feel welcomed. When I started DJing I had a steep learning curve that I’m still struggling with (as when my software redid my beats per minute and I played last night a polka that no one could possibly dance to – it’s been deleted from my playlist). I previewed my share of red pickup, bad boy, daisy duke, and acting bad country songs — I played a few songs where someone quietly told me it was really a song about abuse and/or hanging. The things you learn. Now it’s more important than ever to be aware of what you say and it’s impact since our leaders don’t seem to have that ability.
With this current climate, we face a number of issues for our group and the greater queer community: fear, anger, and shame are just a few. These are the weapons that can be used against us — in the media, in the churches, in our politics. We’ve seen it throughout history, it’s not new. I find I’m so bitter at seeing all the progress that has been made in the past few decades being threatened. I know this winter I battled my own disbelief, shame, embarrassment, and anger at my fellow Americans, the political process, and the media that aided and abetted this farce.
I am struggling this year. I know I drank a lot of that toxic soup and turned inward, isolated, and hid (well, part of that was just winter in New England). But now as “spring” is here, I’m trying to turn that out. Little things like organizing Spring Stomp: A Hoedown in P-town is helping. I’m trying to be a bit more vocal about the importance to kind to each other and accepting. Looking for music that is danceable that echoes that theme. Trying to cope by turning that anger and frustration into action, even a little helps me feel less isolated.
What are ways that you cope?
I cope with dancing and listening to music. It’s become a lifeline for me.
What inspires you?
I know the women’s march in January was A-MAZ-ING to me and heartened me that I was not alone in saying WTF? and helped show that showing that anger and frustration need not be violent. I think of how strong women are and maybe that is why men are so afraid of them. Suffragettes, mothers standing in a line in front of police to protect their children, hell, even childbirth. men can’t hack that shit.
Just know, you’re not alone.
The women’s march was heartneing in so many ways. Get out and do things with people, come dance, have a game night, invite a few friends to watch TV, find a group that helps organize (like Meetup — there’s resist groups out there.
March in Pride
I’m about to fill out an application for the Boston Pride march. We’ve not marched for a few years, but this year Gays for Patsy will be a place to dance and have fun without fear. (I wrote “gays for pastry” now that’s a line I can stand by). If you don’t march, come watch. Be part of something.
Come out to a dance. You’ll be guaranteed a hug and a friendly smile from me (unless I’m DJing and am frantically trying to figure out what’s coming next). Ask me to dance. I’m fun.
And embrace your two left feet, you can ask some of our veterans, we all started stumbling around the dance floor.
“da prez”, Gays for Patsy
* LGBTQA+S = lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, asexual, and straight – I know I forgot some but what it really means it don’t matter who you love, what your gender, skin, or politics are. That’s why I go with “queer” for our dances, for queer country boston meetup and I identify as such. I’d much rather be different in this day and age.