The Importance of Storytelling

I had planned on publishing a lot of content during the Christmas holidays. That plan has been pushed aside in favor of playtime with my niece and nephew. When a 2 and a 5 year old say, “Come play Uncle Greg!,” I cannot refuse. I’ve spent quite a bit of time over the past several days on the floor, playing games and using our imaginations. In a round about way, this playtime has given me some inspiration for going into 2019.

The tagline of this website is, “Telling Stories from the Social Dancing World.” Telling stories is really not all that different from playing with young children. We are creating meaning in the world. Playing dollhouse means that my niece learns how to sit at the table and who cooks in the kitchen (Daddy). Playing with action figure toys helps my nephew figure out good people from bad. From a very small age, we learn to swim through a metaphorical ocean of symbols, woven together through stories.

More importantly, we never stop swimming in this ocean. The story archetypes never fade in importance as we grow older. The Hero still sallies forth to defend, the Villain still tries to foil the Hero, and the Fool still carries on in ignorant bliss. Leo Tolstoy once said, “All great literature is one of two stories; a man goes on a journey or a stranger comes to town.” Our ability to be moved by these stories is what has allowed our species to thrive in this world. Stories allow us to pass down knowledge and wisdom from generation to generation. They give meaning to our world.

I could go on a tangent here and talk about how politicians, businessmen, and people who crave power use our sensitivity to stories to control us. Amongst these people, this is called controlling the Narrative. There are billions of dollars that go into Narrative research, so that our sensitivities can be better exploited. Science has uncovered exactly how to push our emotional buttons, and there are plenty of people willing to do so. Hell, they’re even training Artificial Intelligence to do it nowadays. Perhaps I will do a post about this at some point. But not now.

What I want to talk about now is the importance of storytelling in our social dancing world. Whether we are consciously aware of it or not, our actions on and around the dance floor are always informing other people’s stories about ourselves. Ask yourself how many times you have explained to someone how you started dancing. This is your origin story. Every time you travel to a dance event weekend, you are Tolstoy’s stranger coming to town. If you are a teacher, your teaching choices not only inform your students as to how to do something, but why it is important. If you are an organizer, the very act of choosing a name for your event sets the stage for the story… “Kick-Ass Competition Blues” is a very different setting than “Feeling Fulfilled Fusion.”

We all continuously move through this ocean of metaphors and symbols, the only difference is how we choose to play our parts. Those who are aware that they are telling stories get to choose how to play it.

This is why I started to this website, so that people will have the opportunity to actively tell their own stories. So that they can take hold of the role they are playing. So that they can share what they have done and why they did it with future generations of dancers.

As Christmas passes by and the coming of 2019 approaches, I want to give a HURRAH! to everyone who decides to take an active role in playing their part; whether that is beginner, professional, organizer, musician, DJ, MC, venue owner, wallflower, lush, party-er, romantic, hanger-on, and on and on… may you go forth and dance!

Ok, I have to get back to playing with my niece and nephew. My nephew has just announced that Rudolf the Red-nosed Reindeer is a Myth. He’s absolutely right, only now I’m not sure what part Uncle Greg has to play in connecting the dots back to how real Santa is? Never boring, this story we call life.