Dudes can’t dance. Perhaps in Latin America, or Spain, and definitely in Africa, but from my experience in western North America, most guys struggle to bust a move. Of course there are exceptions to the rule, but look around at a party and most men — including me — fall back to a strikingly similar bob and weave. I’ve even had girls ask me to move off the dance floor if I wasn’t going to shake that ass. Ouch.

Blame fear. Do other people think I look ridiculous? Are proximate females impressed? Where do I put these lanky arms, gaping mouth, half-closed eyes and weirdly gyrating hips? I’ve elbowed people in the head. I’ve even trampled girlfriends. I’ve found it’s better to nod the chin, sway slightly, hold a beer, stand at the back, and blend in. Which is sad.

Let’s face it, though; it’s not like we had any training. Cultures around the world — especially indigenous ones — consider dancing integral to life. From sacred ceremonies to the average gathering, shaking it comes as naturally as singing or playing music, two other hobbies we encourage others “not to quit the day job” for. Why are we so judgmental?

There is hope. In many mountain towns, events similar to Shambhala Music Festival are doing everything in their power to strike fear from the freedom of moving with music. From the penetrating sound systems to the insane audio-visual displays, this is the new culture of dance, exquisitely wrapped in the beauty of unadulterated expression.

Everyone lets go at Shambhala, and as I discovered last summer, when you’re surrounded by people dancing it’s hard not to jump in. Dance by committee. Thousands of people completely absolved of fear, exempt of judgment. Feeling the music. Stepping out of the mind and into the body. Because really, the hips and ass and feet follow the heart, not the brain. And the brain is where the fear lies.

Would you join me in a dance?

Photo: Kari Medig/Shambhala Music Festival