Vice Squad
Monday, June 04, 2007
Suppressing Dancing

Two weeks ago we noted the protest against the New York City dancing regulations that restrict dancing to licensed cabarets. In Sunday's New York Times, Barbara Ehrenreich, who has just published a book on the history of dancing in public, offers an op-ed that notes the tendencies over the centuries of the forces of law and order to clamp down on dancing. And these forces are trying to stifle human nature itself:
The need for public, celebratory dance seems to be hardwired into us. Rock art from around the world depicts stick figures dancing in lines and circles at least as far back as 10,000 years ago. According to some anthropologists, dance helped bond prehistoric people together in the large groups that were necessary for collective defense against marauding predators, both animals and human. While language also serves to forge community, it doesn’t come close to possessing the emotional urgency of dance. Without dance, we risk loneliness and anomie.
I might add that seeking intoxication or hallucinogenic experiences also seems more-or-less "hardwired into us." But this piece of human nature is even more likely to fall afoul of the mighty.


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