Understanding the Underground Dancer
If you have seen him--in clubs, in parties, and even in the street--you will surely remember him. The Underground Dancer is a figure of the modern world that cannot be dismissed. Anthropologists explain dance as the expression of sexual desires, but the Underground Dancer is different, and therefore, often misunderstood. It is hard to pinpoint what he is, and what he looks like, all I can provide is shots in the dark, a desperate attempt to shed light to this misunderstood personae. The underground dancer is a spiritual beggar, a metaphorical call for freedom, a revelrying Dionysus, an artist and a work of art--he matters not merely because he is different, but because he gives us new eyes with which to see the world.
He might sit in the corner of the club, to give you an example, motionless, like a meditating Buddha sitting under the Tree of Life, like a damned poet with the weight of the world resting on his obnoxious self-centered shoulders. He will quietly, perhaps smoking a cigarette, or sipping slowly from a glass of red wine observe the world--his stage--that lies in before him and in vain try to break free of the oppressive cycle of desire--which according to Buddha is the cause of all evils--by distancing himself. A spiritual distancing that can be likened to a state of drunkenness. As the intoxicated man slips and falls, he realizes that he is falling, but does not care. He understands everything but choose to ignore it (Watts). Similarly the Underground Dancer, huddled in the corner of the club, adopts an attitude of artistic apathy, spitting on the face of all petty pre-occupations of this world. But this mildly nihilistic inaction is only the first step.
Just as the wor...
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...rds. The dance may be futile, for it is an insurrection that will not last, but even for a single night, the dancer will be "as the victorious Dionysus, who will turn the world into a holiday" (Bey 33). As the dancer walks away, one is left with a feeling inside that something has changed: the world seems like a nicer place. A difference has been made.
Bey, Hakim. T.A.Z. the Temporary Autonomous Zone, Ontological Anarchy, Poetic Terrorism (New Autonomy Series). Reprint Edition. Autonomedia, August 1991.
Joy Division. "Transmission."
Kaufmann, Walter (Editor). Existentialism: From Dostoevsky to Sartre. Reissue Edition. Meridian Books, USA, March 1988.
Nietzsche, Friedrich. The Birth of Tragedy and Other Writings. Reprint Edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000.
Watts, Alan W.. The Way of Zen. Vintage Books, February 1999.