No, not the Lambada.

I’m talking about physical heat, dancing in a climate where your muscles relax and release the moment you step into the room, when the high temperature and humidity make your body want to speak with the same intensity as the fiery atmosphere surrounding your skin.

There’s hot yoga.

So why not hot dancing?

The “Dance From the Inside” class I attended Friday night was not intended to be of the hot variety, but because we came into the room immediately following a hot vinyasa flow class, that it became. The teacher opened up all the windows, propped open some doors, but still—the room never really cooled down until the final 15 minutes of class.

This “hot” theme is exactly what I was craving. Physically, my hips opened up without resistance; emotionally, I was able to let go and dance my own dance, despite being in a room full of people I’ve never met before. Even the bamboo floor was warm, so starting the practice on my back, rolling from side to side, was a little like floating out in the middle of the Caribbean Sea, my body following the natural rhythm of the sun-kissed waves.

The teacher’s instruction was just as warm, encouraging us to move from the inside. Rather than telling us “move like this” or “move like that,” she asked for us to respond to the music and listen to our body’s wants and desires. How do our fingers want to move to this music? Where does the body want to take us when the tempo picks up?

This theme of warmth and heat had me glowing. I felt myself connect with people in ways that I never would have allowed 2 years ago when I first started this journey of conscious movement/ecstatic dancing. I smiled. I made eye contact. At the teacher’s request, I danced “really silly” and didn’t have an ounce of self-consciousness hold me back. The heat was a reminder of all the warmth that I’ve built up along the way, and I felt myself wanting to share and pass it along to everyone I crossed paths with.

I danced with a man in jeans and a polo shirt, whose unusual choice of restrictive dance attire didn’t hold him back from letting loose. A grandmother seated in a folding chair who shared a happy foot dance with me. An 8-year-old girl who allowed me to twirl her and copied the moves I hoped she would follow. When the Bangles’ “Eternal Flame” come on—a song from my childhood that I remember playing throughout every roller rink in the late 1980s—my body opened up in ways that the 9-year-old me didn’t even know about yet back then, even though she had known that song was about something big and important, because of the way it made high school girls swoon and smile and hold their hands to their hearts.

That eternal flame was evident even outside, as the sun began its late end-of-spring descent. “Look at the sky!” someone had commanded during class, and when I approached the door, the clouds were ablaze with orange, and for a moment all of the heat and warmth and glowing of the cosmos consumed me, hypnotized me, both weakened my knees and made me stronger. I stood in the doorway and did my own dance version of a sun salutation in response to the fiery explosion of astronomy in front of me.

It made me think: What is stronger, the heat of the sun or that which resides in our human circuitry, waiting to be released when the right music plays?

Photo courtesy of Flickr user KellyCDB

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