If you’ve been to any weddings recently you may have watched – or possibly even partaken in – the ritual of ‘Dad Dancing’ – that disjointed, arm flailing, foot shuffling interpretation of our youthful disco days when we were lithe and supple and pretty damn cool!
As Community Builders, we often talk in terms of the Community Builder ‘Dance’. It wouldn’t win us any prizes on the Strictly dance floor, but just like ‘busting some moves’ when we’re old enough to know better and too old to care, it’s fun, energising, unpredictable, and sometimes messy!
We can be spotted skipping our way through communities. We put our left leg in, our right leg in - in, out, in, out, - and we try our best to shake it all about!
But when we turn the volume down and step away from the dance floor, what is left behind?
Is it the rhythm of community finding their own beat? Can we hear the tempo changing as people become energised around their own passions?
If you look at the complexities of the Community Builder dance you can see a variety of steps.
We might be stepping in to a community at the beginning, and taking a few paces around the edge before finding some dancing partners (connectors in the community) who can draw us in further, then link us with new partners who have different moves, groups who may be dancing to new tunes and residents who are moving to their own beat.
Do we ever completely step away from the dance floor? I don’t think that we do. We might step out of the centre, but while we remain working in the community, we’re often moving from one dance to another. Sometimes the dance is slow and steady and sometimes it’s rock n roll. Country dancing is a good simile - remember your school days? You’re constantly coming face to face with new people, holding hands while you share a few steps, take a turn in a new direction, nodding to those you’ve passed before, doing a couple of ‘dosey doe’s’ and starting over again. You don’t always remember the right way to do it, it’s probably different every time you try and you have a job keeping up with the music, but does it matter what tempo the dance is?
Isn’t it much more important that we’re not watching from the wings but trying out a few steps, however tentative and unrehearsed they may be?
If it’s true that every person you meet knows something you don’t, then every time I meet someone new I hope to learn something. That’s why I’m going to jump in with 2 left feet and let community teach me how to dance!