When did you stop dancing?

I love dancing.   In my high school and university days I used to dance a lot.  I was part of the folk lore group at Ted Ankara College.  Both my father and uncle were very good dancers.  In the l950s in Ankara many balls were organised under various pretexts: the New Year ball, a ball to celebrate the formation of the Republic, 30 August Ball, Medical Ball and the Liberation Ball.  We used to tango with my father and waltz with my uncle.   I remember my father and uncle with affection.  At university dances were  frequent.   There was a beer garden in Luna Park where every Saturday and Sunday young people met and danced.  In l985 I moved to Istanbul.  On Saturday  tango evenings were held at the Ece Bar.  I joined the Istanbul Tango  Association fan club.


In 1993 I settled in Bodrum.  At the end of 1997 I visited New Orleans at the invitation of my dear friend Yasemin.  She was a young professor at Tulane University; intelligent, full of fun and a dance lover. Yasemin took me to a dance club at the weekends. It was a huge dance hall full of men and women of every age.  Music was played and everyone danced with or without a partner.  There was no ceremony. Everyone wore their daytime clothes.  It was a wonderful atmosphere.  After four weeks I was also dancing.  It was most enjoyable.


When I returned to Bodrum I made a wish to the universe.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could create such a setting in Bodrum?  Anything is possible in Bodrum, isn’t it?  I spoke with a number of people.  Nothing materialised.


Time went by.  I suppose I abandoned my wish to the universe.   That was until last year at one of the meetings of the writing circle lead by Martha Patrick.  Dear Martha read the following quotation to us by Gabrielle Roth.


“In many shamanic societies, if you came to a shaman or medicine person complaining of being disheartened, dispirited, or depressed, they would ask  one of four questions:


When did you stop dancing?

When did you stop singing?

When did you stop being enchanted by stories?

When did you stop finding comfort in the sweet territory of silence?


Where we have stopped dancing, singing, being enchanted by stories, or finding comfort in silence is where we experience the loss of soul.


Dancing, singing, storytelling, and silence are the four universal healing salves.  This quotation has so much meaning for me.  In spite of dancing at home alone, the wish to dance with enthusiasts in a dance hall resurfaced.


At that time I was reading the life story of my favourite writer the Fisherman of Halicarnassus in which I read the following quotation, adding to my excitement.


“It is a custom for us Turks when meeting someone for the first time to ask:  Where are you from?  What do you do or what is your profession?”


Whereas a native African on meeting another black African for the first time will ask, “How do sing a native song or how do you dance?”  Isn’t that wonderful?


I believe in the mysticism of signs.   If these weren’t signs what were they?


Then last year at the fifth anniversary of the establishment of H3A I found myself talking to Claire Miles.  I don’t know how the subject came up but we soon started to talk about dancing.  Maybe both of us love dancing?  Could we create a setting under the auspices of H3A where we could dance together?


Yet another sign.


After that whenever there was an H3A meeting I brought up this idea.  Some friends were interested.  Finally this wish reached Christine Davies.  I received a message from her asking what I had in mind.  I explained my idea and told her that I had shared my thoughts with Claire.


Christine was able to set the ball rolling and helped us get started.  The rest you know.  You received an invitation to dance.


On the 4th January 2016 Claire and I visited Ceyhun Koçyiğit at the Maya Hotel in search of the necessary dance floor.  We viewed the hall and even had a trial music and dance.  The hall and conditions were suitable.  It looked as if my wish was coming true.


If it hadn’t been for Claire I couldn’t have realised all this.  In fact most of the work was carried out by Claire.  Christine pointed us in the right direction.  Camille Şahin, as always, stepped in to help.  Camille and Teoman Onursan did the translations I should have done.  I have problems with modern technology so by the time I had turned on the computer Claire had found a way to complete the work.


Dear Claire, Christine, Camille and Teoman thank you so much – not forgetting Chris Miles who was DJ at our first meeting.  Thanks also to H3A President Selçuk Şahin and the H3A board for accommodating the wishes of our members.


Happy dancing!

Sönmez Taner

January 2016


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