The rhythm is the challenge

A series of dark lines on sepia paper meant to show the abstract movement of dance.
Rhythmic Lines; Dance Abstraction by Abraham Walkowitz

The rhythm is the challenge. How to find a beat and stick to it when everything else beats just a little off pace.

The scene opens. A young man still in his teens—chubby and awkward—sitting a table in a small but crowded club. A band is playing. They aren't talented and in a few years they will settle down to work in some corporate gig and laugh about their youth as "rock stars." As they do, they will ignore that odd pinging feeling that seems to cry out from the depths of what remains of their soul. Not a worry for them, though. It's nothing a buy-it-now button can't fix.

The young man thinks the band is amazing. He is awash in the music and the beat. His experience with live music is minimal and this is an awakening. He wants to dance. He wants to get lost in the rhythm. He is tapping his feet while moving and dancing in his seat. He only sees the stage. He only hears the music. For a minute, there is joy and transcendence.

The music ends, and the young man sits back with a smile and looks around. He realizes with a sudden pang of panic that several of the club-goers are looking at him from their own tables. Many are laughing, pointing, whispering. They are laughing at him. His dancing a rictus of awkward and fumbling movements. His expression of joy ripe for their ridicule. The heat he feels is suffocating. There is a pressure in his head and he looks down at his hands now still on his legs. He does not cry. He knows that only makes it worse.

The band plays, again. The young man is still and silent. The music cannot penetrate the heat. He hears only the laughter now. He will carry this locked away. His personal object lesson in conformity. Someday, he may rage against it and wish the shame of it did not suffuse him every time he thought of it.

But he will never forget it.

The rhythm is there. I hear it. Do you? I don't know what it needs from us, but I know it wants us to dance. I know we want to dance with it. What I don't understand is why so many don't.



In the Deluge of the Slush Pile