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SPOTLIGHT:
DANCE AND THE CITY
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Dance and the City: It's all about finding the right partner…

by Rachel Levin
September 1, 2004
Los Angeles, CA

Dance and the City: It's all about finding the right partner…

Rachel Levin
September 1, 2004

It's a familiar story. Girl focuses on school and writing career in her 20s and arrives at her 30th birthday perplexed about where all that time went. She's got a great apartment right in the middle of the city and great friends with whom to explore all the action. A string of past relationships, some wild and some serious, have helped her clarify what she doesn't want in a long-term mate. But - you guessed it - she finds herself undeniably single.

Yes, it's got Carrie Bradshaw written all over it. But this particular story is set in Los Angeles. And this particular girl is a dancer.

Let's face it: Carrie had it easy. All she had to do was figure out how to have great sex and still score a commitment. Never once did she have to worry: can this person keep time to the beat? Is this person confident enough to shake his thing on a public dance floor? Above all, can he do a cross-body lead?

Single girls who are dancers have got it doubly hard in the quest to find a mate. As if it weren't difficult enough to stumble across your soulmate, eliminating men who don't dance from the pool of possibilities narrows all those fish in the sea to mere guppies in a pond. America is not exactly big on rewarding her boys for their dance prowess. Do we encourage our boys in football, baseball, and math skills? Sure. Double turns, kick-ball-changes, and hip rolls? Not likely. In other cultures, being a good dancer is considered as masculine as being a good shot. But here in the land of gun racks and Columbine, finding a life partner who can also be a dance partner is kind of like a game of Russian roulette: maybe your chances are one in six.

In the cultural fantasizes that Hollywood films conjure up for girls, dance is often a metaphor for finding true love. Cinderella meets her prince at the ball. Eliza Doolittle knows she's in love when she proclaims, "I could have danced all night!" From Dirty Dancing to Save the Last Dance, dance is shorthand for physical chemistry, effortless communication, and a cosmic match. If you move well together on the floor, then you can slide through life together in happy harmony. Or so the fantasy goes.

Yet knowing how unlikely it is to find true love while wearing a pair of tap shoes, how much should a girl who dances sacrifice in the real game of love?

I've rationalized my sacrifices for a good decade now. He doesn't dance, but he's got a really stable job. He doesn't dance, but he's a musician so at least he knows how to keep time. He's afraid of going to a club, but at least he dances with me at home. Or my personal favorite: he doesn't dance, but I'll convert him into a dancing machine! Never, ever expect that you can change someone, especially when it comes to dance.

Now that I'm one month from my 30th birthday and single, the cultural pressure to make more realistic sacrifices in order to find a mate is palpable. Maybe it's marriage suicide, and maybe I've watched just a few too many Hollywood dance films, but I feel more determined than ever not to hang up my dancing shoes in the name of sensible partnership. I'm a hip-hop/salsa/samba/swing/tap aficionado who's trying to find love and groove at the same time. This is my quest, and this is my column.

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