Ready. Set. Contact!

It’s an early Sunday morning in Silicon Valley, and I jump out of bed at the first sound of the alarm clock. I don’t usually do that. On weekdays, my snooze factor is, like, two or three. But Sunday is special. On Sunday I dance.

T-shirt, sport pants, and flipflops – I love the feel of morning air when I get to run out like that. I also love the feel of the pedals when I drive barefoot. It’s almost sexy. Shh… don’t tell anyone.

Community center. That’s where we dance. At the door, there are always a few people doing something important. On not important. I actually don’t know. But they are there, and they look familiar, so hugs time!

I walk onto the dance floor, relishing the feel of the lacquered wood under the ball of my right foot. Yeah. I shift more of my weight to the right foot. Slowly put my heel down. Good. Now left foot. Nice. I wonder if cats feel like that all the time. Maybe that’s why they walk like cats? A sunny spot. It’s warm. Shadow – much cooler. The sensation is almost sexy. Did I mention that? Shh… Someone waxed the floor this week, it’s stickier than usual. And cleaner. I love that.

Warm up. Stretch. Roll on the floor. Who needs massage? The floor is the best masseuse. More people come. They also stretch, roll on the floor. One bumps into me. Or did I bump into her? Whatever. I’m on her way, so she just rolls over my belly. That felt good! I roll over her. She grunts. In contact, we call it “body surfing”. I personally call it “full body massage”. We push into each other and sit up. Laugh. The class begins.

Weight share. I push my shoulder into my partner’s shoulder. If any of us steps away, the other one falls. So we’ve been told. Don’t leave me, I need you. We walk around like two drunks in a curvy line. I stumble and roll the point of contact to the other shoulder. Now she stumbles, and we end up pushing head to head. Roll over back to back. I slide a bit down, she leans over me. I lift my butt – she’s in the air. We call it “butt scoop”. She rolls softly to the side and on her feet. I continue the rolling motion and roll up her back. She bends down, and I roll in a backward somersault over her head and on my feet. What has just happened? We don’t exactly know, but it was fun. We laugh. Let’s do it again!

I stand still. She comes behind me and I feel her knee. I sit on it. It’s comfy, so I lean back into her body. She hugs me. We stay like that for a minute. Serenity. She leans on me, I shift my weight, her center over mine – a perfect lift. She plays with the momentum, kicks her legs high into the air, pivots and dives under me. I try to catch her, but we lose balance and tumble on the floor, laughing.

Another partner. She’s still new, and I’m not going to throw her around. Not yet anyway. Right now she’s still looking for that point of balance. She’s giving me too little weight – a novice give-away. That’s how she’s trying to stay in control, ’cause this guy’s crazy. And instead of rolling the point of contact, we bounce against each other like the martian rover on its airbags. Yeah, I know. Relax. I’m not gonna let you fall. Next thing, she dumps all her weight on my hand. I have to shift my center closer to support her. Whoops, almost fell! Well, not really – I had my knee under you all this time. Told you. Keep searching, keep experimenting. I think she’s getting it. Yay, a first lift! Nice.

We bump into another couple. We didn’t plan it, but we won’t apologize. In fact, that felt good. A pleasant surprise. Now we have two more bodies to play with. One down, one up in the air rolling over someone’s back, another one is catching the roller on the other side. It’s a perfectly beautiful mess. The bump was not an accident. It was meant to happen all along. We just didn’t know it till that very moment. That’s the “improv” part. We are not dancing – we are being danced. It’s not up to us to decide what’s the next move. It’s only up to us to notice an impulse, or an opportunity, and flow with it. Let go and be danced. No one’s watching.

End of the class. We sit in a circle, all tired and sweaty. The people I just met an hour ago are now my best buddies that I can hug or elbow (in a friendly way) with no regard to the “social norm”, whatever that means. And they just laugh and elbow me back. Heck, we just “surfed” over each other across the entire floor – not something you’d do in a grocery store. Not to a complete stranger, anyway. But we did it, and it was fun. Because, why not?

Good-byes and hugs in the hall. These people out there are alway doing something. After dancing like there’s no tomorrow, apparently there’s always lots to do, important or not. And these bodies feel warm and loving. Hug-perfect. A few minutes later, uplifted (literally), hugged up and loved, I head back towards my busy week. Reset my snooze factor. Until we dance again.

Sergey Berezin
Dancer, filmmaker, software engineer
sergey@ContactImprovBA.org