Dancing Dangers

For the six months I lived in Japan, biking 45 minutes to and from dance practice three times a week so I could run, jump, and shake my whole body for two hours outside in the heat of the day…

Ahem. For the six months I was doing all that, I never once imagined myself getting a serious injury. Not when I woke one day to find I couldn’t bend my knees. Not when I came back from a Night of Terror at Mount Fuji and found my ankles swollen like melons. Not even at practice when I got overheated and collapsed, nor at the festival in Kouchi when I almost did the same exact thing and had to step out of the parade mid-route.

Do I sound retarded enough yet?

That wasn’t entirely my fault, though. Among the 150 or so people who regularly attended practice, we had a handful of “staff” who weren’t really instructors, though they did do all the teaching, and who definitely didn’t have any kind of medical training. We weren’t briefed on how to protect ourselves from injury, except for the obvious: 1) always stretch before practice. 2) always stay hydrated. 3) don’t act stupid.

It was the hydration one that ended up clicking with me, despite the knee thing that wound up affecting me for days afterward. When I came back and started passing on yosakoi to my club at uni, I made sure everyone stretched thoroughly and drank water throughout the session. I was a walking advertisement for Pocari Sweat, despite how expensive and difficult to find it is here. I thought, short of stupidity, that my team and I were invincible.

Four days later, I’ve just come back from the school clinic, where I was prescribed two bottles of painkiller for a neck injury that can’t be anything less than a pulled muscle. I can say almost for certain that I was not acting stupid when I did this to myself. But I was also thoroughly stretched and hydrated. And what was I doing to earn this dancing battle scar?

Looking forward, glancing back. A move that happens swiftly five times in a row in the dance called “Soran Bushi.” A move that many, many people, including everyone I taught it to on Saturday, managed to accomplish without bringing horrendous pain upon themselves.

The fact that I cannot move my head more than a couple inches in any direction is a  perfect warning from the universe that some things are just out of my control.


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