What happened? I attended the seminars to improve my dancing and have fun being in gorgeous natural areas of Northern Greece (Pelion and Prespa). I expected somewhat that the second seminar would be filled with dancing, though I did not expect late nights, every night. And when I mean late, I don’t mean until midnight. I mean until 4 or 5! How people can sustain themselves on 3-4 hours of sleep a night for more than a week is beyond me (even with afternoon naps, I cannot do this). That is just one symptom, though: The lack of awareness of the fatigue the body shows that is covered up with coffee, smoking, and alcohol. The intent seems to be to avoid feeling anything, at all cost. In the end, people are too worn out to even sustain micro-moments.
Maybe not everyone is worn out by such a schedule either (I didn’t even fully participate in this nightly ritual, skipping several nights and leaving earlier whenever possible, and I am still exhausted). It seems that some folks are sustained by the adrenaline of the extroverted immersion into “fun” (watching the people, it is hard to believe that they were having fun, when they weren’t dancing, they looked like zombies, just like I felt…). Aside from the mind-body disconnect, this is the other cultural thing that showed up: The ignorant exuberance of extroverts that does not allow for anything but excited participation (with faked excitement if necessary). This meant for those of us who are more introverted that we had to deal with loud music until the wee hours (making it challenging to get the rest we need to restore ourselves!) or getting stuck at a dance party because we’re car pooling.
It is interesting that this also reflects a development in the way people approach folk dance. We got a glimpse of this development in a rare moment of honesty by the lead teacher – a glimpse that remains a highlight of the workshop for me. He explained that just a few decades ago, villages danced to show their respect for their family, their friends, and the village. So, the long line of dancers was the center of the dance, not the first person. The music was slower and quieter. The dancing was about community, not about the individual. Maybe later in a night, it was more about the individual. Now, the music has gotten faster, even the same dances are danced to a faster beat, and is amplified so loudly it can be heard just fine wearing earplugs. The line has turned into an audience for the first dancer who shows off his (or her) technical skill, with the improvisations limited to flamboyant choices since the music is too fast for anything else. It is no longer about the community; it is about the individual.
This style of dancing, then, attracts extroverts who love to show how cool they are. And that, then, seems to breed the situations we experienced at the dance seminar that ignore everything but the stage for the extrovert. This flavor of extroversion clearly shows how our culture (broadly defined, not limited to a particular geography) has taken on a distinct narcissistic spin. It’s not just about getting energy from being with other people, it’s about showing off.
Note: While this might sound like I didn’t enjoy myself that’s hardly the case! I learned to adjust and even managed to fall asleep to the (recorded) music of a brass band… I just couldn’t resist pulling out this aspect of the workshop as it relates to so many topics, I’ve mused about here.