Dancing fear | The conservative woman
WHEN Jordan Peterson is asked if he believes in God, his response is usually to say that he acts as if God exists. Before you accuse him of dodging the question, at least acknowledge the challenge: do you really believe what you say enough to live your life accordingly?
So it’s with Covid: do you believe in what you think of masks, vaccines, ivermectin, vitamin D enough to follow through on what that entails? Pressure from the government, the mainstream media, not to mention family and friends, makes it difficult for anyone except the most determined to do what they say. I wrote in TCW in March that there is virtually no chance of catching Covid on the outside and I tried to act like I believed it.
I have been doing social dance since university: ballroom dancing, Argentine tango and especially for 20 years, salsa. I’ll spare you the obsessive details (unless you’re stupid enough to ask me) but Covid has filled my unassuming hobby with political ramifications and made it an unimaginable character test before 2020.
With the confinement at the end of March 2020, salsa clubs have closed. Some dance teachers have organized online classes; all is well for zumba, pilates, hip hop etc but if you can’t get your hands on a member of the opposite sex then social dancing is an oxymoron. The white noise of the lockdown left the dancers as frightened and stunned as everyone else. However, we needed our solution. As summer began and people went to parks and beaches without getting sick, the dancers started to crack.
I broke my friends’ detention in late June at an outdoor event for six (the time limit for socializing if I remember correctly), playing an evil cha cha cha. “Alright, Vlod,” one of them said as he stood up, “I want a dance. And that’s what we did, to the amazement of the others, who joined us laughing like naughty children. Two weeks later we were all still alive and well. Such experiences have led to the question, who do I believe: the government and its advisers or my own eyes? A few other small gatherings over the summer answered this question beyond a reasonable doubt.
A small group of salsa conspirators began to meet weekly from late summer to dance outdoors. Since then we’ve been dancing at least once a week every week, through the cold, wind, rain, bleachers and lockdown. The police were largely problem free. When they spotted us, they asked us to disperse and we forced ourselves (avoiding fines or arrests) only to find another place where our outrageous hobby was less likely to attract their attention. Private security has been a bigger nuisance. A lot of so-called public spaces are owned or operated by individuals, and CCTV has ensured that some jobsworth finally saw us and moved us just because they could. But there were too many open spaces for it to be an insurmountable obstacle.
Despite a dozen people dancing regularly among themselves, no one in our group has contracted the Covid. Our only precaution was to ask anyone with cold, flu or Covid symptoms not to come until they were cured. I had an antibody test in February which was negative. Either we’ve been extremely lucky or the risk of catching Covid outside is negligible. Of course, it’s the latter, for the reasons Bret Weinstein eloquently and brilliantly explains here (at around 1 hour, 14 minutes, although the rest of the interview is well worth it). Patrick Vallance, chief scientific adviser, admitted before a parliamentary committee that there was no evidence of external transmission of Covid. Late, at the end of March, the government changed its Covid mantra – Hands, Face, Space – to add Fresh Air. Really, you have to be an expert not to be able to notice the blinding evidence.
My salsa outlaw comrades are a bunch of unlikely rebels: mostly between 25-65 years old, an overrepresentation of Latinos, respectably commuter (we leave our dance halls tidier than when we found them and are always polite to anyone in authority). Women were generally more inclined to dance than men (the lack of cojones of my own gender was a shame!) There were a variety of opinions on vaccination: one woman insisted on wearing a face mask when she was dancing and a man was wearing a face shield. Many of those who were optimistic about meeting outside were very cautious inside. But we came to dance, not to pass judgment on how others pushed their way through fear of Covid.
Public reaction ran the gamut, from two doctors who went out of their way to scold me to some who were happy to see other people having fun, or even participating. People who passed in the open air with their masks seemed stunned by what they saw; I looked at them and the feeling was mutual.
Since the rules have been relaxed to allow groups of up to 30 outdoors, our number and range of dance halls has increased as you don’t have to be so low-key. And yet, many of our pre-Covid dance partners did not join us. Some – especially those working in the public sector – have been threatened with dismissal if caught breaking Covid restrictions. Others who spoke out against the restrictions on social media made a polite apology when asked to join us. But when authorities spend a year scaring the population, it’s no surprise that people don’t even venture out when they are allowed to.
Dancing under the Covid radar has been almost entirely positive. I made more friends in the last year than probably any other, because there is nothing like adversity to find out who your true friends are. While researching suitable dance venues, I spent many days discovering delicious nooks and crannies in London that I never knew existed. I also came across several interesting facets of modern life that would make a great material for TCW articles if only I didn’t spend so much time dancing.
I did not announce my activities to everyone; it does not seem appropriate to provoke people stressed by factors beyond their control and the publicity could put my amigos dancers in danger. But with the shackles half-loosened, you don’t have to be so reluctant. I can’t wait to face anyone who wants to discuss the draw. Do you think I should obey the law? As Lord Sumption pointed out, there may be moral justification for breaking the law. So here it is in a nutshell: my freedoms are given by God, not by the government, so if the government wants to take them away from me, they must show a valid reason for doing so. The government has produced no evidence that Covid is spreading outside and therefore its removal of this civil liberty is an immoral act that no one should feel an ethical obligation to obey. I am not selfish either, because that implies that I have done something to hurt others, which I have not done; indeed, my dance partners will tell you it’s the opposite.
Yesterday was to be our “free day” when the government gave us back what it shouldn’t have taken away from us in the first place. Many made some sort of protest. But the most important thing you can do is take George Herbert’s advice: living well is the best revenge. Meet the carefree attitude of a world leader at a G7 summit or a Scottish football fan in London. Laugh at those who kill you or ask you to be afraid. I would write a better ending to this article but I have to go for it: I hear the beating of the claves calling me.