We’ll Dance Again, Don’t Know Where, Don’t Know When…

Physical distancing is a sensible reaction to infectious disease; the cure for what ails our society. Yet, like cod liver oil or chemotherapy, taking this medicine entails its own unpleasantness—especially if your hobby (nay, lifestyle) celebrates physical closeness. Comparing disasters like COVID-19 with World War II is as British as crumpets. Our mop-topped PM did it on telly just last week. But one difference will be abundantly clear to avid jazz dancers the world over: while our blitzed grandparents went jitterbugging to meet new friends, find romance, and forget the enemy for a while, this foe makes such escapism impossible. Complaining about a dearth of dancing might sound outrageous, while thousands die, but tearing up the dance calendar—classes, festivals and all—has meant the near-total erasure of many people’s social lives for the last six months. And surrendering one’s social space, regular exercise, and creative outlet at a stroke, with no hope of regaining them soon, takes a significant mental toll. Confined to barracks since March—including a two-week spell of isolation, when I may have had the virus—I’ve barely socialized in half a year. Yes, dance classes are slowly starting up again, but there’s no changing partners and no drink afterwards. For a social scene in which strangers are routinely greeted with a hug, it doesn’t feel sociable at all. Pl
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Dave Doyle is a swing dancer, dance teacher, and journalist based in Gloucestershire, England. Write him at [email protected]. Find him on Twitter @DaveDoyleComms.

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