Sunday, February 21, 2010

A social activity turned anti-social?

Recently, we ran into Haim Kaufman, leader of the Rikudey Dor Rishon (Dances of the First Generation) Israeli folk dancing "nostalgia" sessions, on Shabbat (Sabbath) at our current favorite egalitarian Conservative synagogue in Manhattan. He complained that Israeli folk dancing isn't what it used to be. But he wasn't talking about the dances, he was talking about the attitude of the dancers.

We got a live demonstration of just how right he is this afternoon, when we walked into Sasha's International Folk Dancing session at the Workmen's Circle--and heard people talking. My heavens, when was the last time we'd heard that? Whatever happened to the good old days when people went to folk dance sessions not only to dance, but to hang out with the other dancers and yack? I hadn't realized why I don't enjoy Israeli folk dance sessions as much as I used to. The dancing part is still great fun, but the social aspect, now that people barely talk to each other any more, has practically disappeared.

Israeli folk dance sessions used to be a wonderful place to make friends. Those days seem to have vanished. I used to enjoy hanging out with my friends at folk dance sessions. Now, my old folk dancing buddies no longer live near enough to participate in New York City Israeli folk dance sessions, and many of the folks currently involved in Israeli folk dancing here seem to have little interest in socializing with anyone whom they don't already know. So now, instead of hanging out and enjoying the company between dances, I just dance for an hour and a half or so and leave, having hardly been spoken to or spoken to anyone. How sad.

Maybe it's not just a coincidence that we've changed our "category" for folk dancing in our Quicken financial records from "Recreation expense" to "Fitness expense," because that's what folk dancing has become.


Blogger Maya Resnikoff said...

I've been to sessions where people talk to each other, and it's what I want in a dance session too- if it isn't social, I don't see much point in going. It's what makes "breaking in" to a new session so hard, though- until I make some friends, there are people talking- but they're not talking to me. And when you're one of less than a handful of people under 35, that doesn't make it easier...

Wed Feb 24, 08:27:00 AM 2010  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

And here I thought the problem was that I'm too old! :) I will admit, though, that the International session at the Workmen's Circle might not be the best session for a person of your, er, youth.

There's no really tactful way to say this, which is why I didn't mention it in the post itself, but it has been suggested that Israeli folk dance sessions that tend to attract mainly Israeli dancers are less "friendly"--sessions at which the majority of the dancers are American are said to be more friendly. Have you found that to be the case?

Wed Feb 24, 01:28:00 PM 2010  

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