'The Dirty Laundry' - A guide on how to avoid drama in the dance scene...and LIFE

This article was inspired by a Facebook thread about the drama in the dance scene, specifically the ‘hook-ups’ and the resultant hurt, chaos and misunderstandings they very often create. I believe that we have the power to easily put an end to the drama. As it's often been said: "Be the change you want to see in the world". If we all recognize the part that we play, there will be no more drama. Drama can’t exist with only a singular participant; we create it by adding ourselves to the mix. It's like a Domino effect, a cumulative effect produced when one event sets off a chain of similar events. If you're far from the Domino when it falls, you avoid getting knocked down. If you’re in the pathway of the avalanche, you will inevitably become a part of it. Sometimes we're actors in the drama without ever realizing our involvement. Over time, I have developed an analogy that helps in understanding this very topic. It is called ‘Cleaning Out Our Dirty Laundry.’ Let me share it with you.

What is our Dirty Laundry: 

Quite simply, dance was created to bring people together; to unify communities, to celebrate and to provide a means of human connection. It was an avenue to increase population growth as it was once recognized as a form of fertility ritual, it was the first Viagra, the first e-Harmony, the first Facebook, the first Tinder and the very first social network. Dance became recognized as a catalyst for the building of human connection, an opportunity for socialization, the forging of new friendships, the relieving of stress and the living of healthier lives. When you view it in this way, you can’t help but realize that we have to exercise caution when we are in the zest pool of a nightclub. Each person has their own motivations for attending a party or coming to a club. Each person takes dance classes for a myriad of reasons, influenced by their perceptions of the desired outcome. Let's explore 5 of the most typical motivations.

A. to exercise, lead a healthier lifestyle or specifically to lose weight
B. to release and relieve stress
C. to make new platonic friends
D. to make new casual romantic friends
E. to find a life-long partner

Given there are 5 typical motivations, why does it seem to become a complete mess of ‘Dirty Laundry’? I'll explain the reasoning behind the metaphor now. 

Imagine you are in a room and there is a pile of dirty laundry. Your task is to sort this laundry by color. While a seemingly simple task when there is light, as you can clearly identify which colors can be matched, the added challenge here is that you are in complete darkness. With lights off, and no way of being sure of the colors you are handling, there is a high likelihood that you will make a mess. You will mix the Whites with the Reds, the Brights, with the Darks. It is not a malicious desire to stain the clothing by mixing it with other colors, simply a natural and arguably inevitable result of the circumstances. This is essentially what is happening to us when we are at the club. Allow me to explain in more detail.

Each color relates to a motivation.

Whites = Life-Long Partners
Reds = Casual Romantic Friends
Bright Colors = Platonic Friends
Dark Colors = Releasing Stress
Blacks = Exercising

If we have all of these ‘colors’ commingling in the ‘darkness’ of a club, here is what happens. 

The Whites become completely stained when they are mixed with the Reds.

The Reds can make a mess out of anyone but are mostly unaffected themselves. When Red affects anyone they leave a visible mark.

The Bright Colors try to spread their sunshine with everyone and will have the most trouble when mixing with Whites and Reds.

So how do we manage the situation?

The key is to come out of the dark and simply turn on the lights. We need to shed some light to bring clarity. We must define the relationship and speak the truth. When Red & White are together they can look amazing. It can be a great pairing, but not if their exchange is a messy one. There must be boundaries set, expectations established and a mutual understanding agreed upon. If you know that you are delicate and/or that your ‘colors will run’, you simply cannot share deeply with certain people. You must at least offer a warning as to who you are and what your motivation is, and only share in certain environments where you are certain the other party will not be hurt. These interactions should be limited only to the dance floor, otherwise it will inevitably become messy. 

It is simple. If you are looking for a life-long partner, but you keep "hooking up" with Casual Romantic Friends, then you're not going to find what you are looking for, and neither are they. No one wakes up in the morning and says, "I'm in need of more drama in my life…let me just ruin the hell out of a beautiful pair of white jeans by washing them with my red shirt."

Passion drives us. Passion, just like a bright red top, can cause a considerable amount of damage if it is not carefully controlled and shared only with those that are alike. So, how do we do it? First, you have to be entirely honest with yourself. Ask yourself, "What do I want?" Then, you must communicate it. Truth should be your currency. Once you communicate it, then you ask the person you are speaking to, "what do you want." If you're not a match, if you're not in alignment, you can still be platonic friends. This is always an option, or perhaps ‘dance buddies’ if you prefer not to use the word ‘friend’ so loosely. The bottom line is that it only becomes messy if we fail to SORT.

We have to come up with a new way to ’Clean Out Our Dirty Laundry’. It needs to inspire change in a positive way, support healthy human connections and must be infectious to others so that we can spread it. I call this ‘sorting’ or ‘filtering’.

When you meet someone new, you have to filter what type of person they are and what they are looking for. This will determine how they fit into your life. However, instead of simply ‘labeling’ them, you need to start by ‘labeling’ yourself, so that they are also able to filter you. This way, they see you, you see them. You both share your desires, needs and wants, and everybody is happy.

As you are applying this process with each new person, please feel free to use my Laundry metaphor to help you. Another technique I use that helps me avoid drama in my life is something I like to call ‘Managing My Personalities’. If we continue to use the Laundry Metaphor, I am basically ‘sorting’ which of my personalities match the different people that I meet and the situations I encounter and experience.

I‘ve identified that I have at least 7 personalities that I navigate my life with. They are: 

  1. The CEO. He studied Business Management and this sets the foundation to the successful implementation of business strategy in his life. He closes contracts and signs deals. My professional persona. My Pockets. My Bank. My ATM.
  2. The Instructor. He educates, he inspires and he loves to teach. However, he loves the art of teaching so much that he requires the CEO to collect the funds and manage the business side of things. He’s not the best at business strategy, but he is great at imparting knowledge and being a part of the learning journey of others. My Patient & Nurturing Self. 
  3. The Artist.  He loves to create & perform. He is inspired by art and lives in art. He is both the painter and the painting. He loves Dance, Movement, Music, Poetry, Photography, and all types of artistic expression. He would be a starving artist if it weren’t for the influence of the CEO. My Creative Side. 
  4. 4) The Intellectual. He likes to read. He loves to think. He is passionate about writing. He is addicted to intellectual stimulation. He thrives from meeting new interesting people. He is always searching for the signal of intelligent life on Earth and enjoys connection. My Brain. 
  5. The Lover. He loves falling in love. He is addicted to LOVE, and not ‘love’ in the misguided and superficial way that society defines it, but the LOVE that millions of poems are inspired by: the LOVE that sets us FREE, the LOVE that is transformational, the LOVE that makes us a better person. My Heart. 
  6. The Selfless Philanthropist. He is driven to make the world a better place. He is an Activist. He is a Revolutionary. He is a selfless Giver. My Soul. 
  7. The Poser, The Model. The Superficial side of me. Aesthetics. This is my stylist, the side of me that is concerned with looks and styles and all things superficial and physical. My Physical Body.

When I'm navigating through all my different personalities I have noticed a truth. What works best is to think, focus, and realize which personality is right for each situation. Once I do this, I can effortlessly exist and flourish while being true to myself. When I select the right personality for the task at hand, I always do well. When I select the wrong personality, it becomes a formula for chaos and catastrophe. I have become extremely skilled, an expert if you will, at selecting the right personality. It is actually easy. Effortless. I recommend that everyone does this. First, divide your life into compartments that all require different skills. Then, divide yourself into multiple personalities that can each perform well individually with the different tasks. Our mind actually knows how to do this as a protective mechanism – self-preservation. It will separate our personalities when it believes that we cannot handle a situation and/or traumatic event. It creates a personality to effectively manage it. However, given that our mind does this and we are not consciously aware of it, we don’t have voluntary control it. This therefore causes confusion and can bring about other problems. So, I have developed a system to purposely do this on a conscious level.

My different personalities not only have different fields of expertise, but they all have a different style, a different way about themselves. It allows me to live a full life, a life that is enriched. AS you read this from the outside, you may be thinking, "Juan is Crazy...he has really lost it now".  But it is actually one of the most sane things I have ever done. It might appear that I wear different masks and that could seem like my life as a fallacy, as ‘fake’ or as unauthentic. But, really, it is far more genuine and truly authentic this way. I am all of my personalities, but they all have different goals and purpose. Different motivations and different desired outcomes. I noticed early on in my career that most dancers struggle financially, like most artists. This is because the artists just want to create their art for the love of the art. Therefore their strength is in the art itself, not in the business side. Fortunately, I studied business in college. As I explored the themes of business management, strategy and innovation on an academic level, I learned to fragment my personalities. I wanted the businessman to develop, but I didn't want the artist to be destroyed in the process. So, I found the perfect balance.

If I'm all about ‘business’ all of the time, I stunt my creative growth. I have to know when to wear the different hats, when to perceive and respond to the world through the lens of each personality. This is what many people struggle with; changing their hats. Imagine if I allowed the lover to enter the dance studio. I wouldn't be able to teach effectively. Not only would I lose my credibility as a dance instructor and business owner, I would lose respect as well as all of my business. Or, let’s say I was the Selfless Philanthropist all of the time. I wouldn't be able to pay the bills. You would not believe how many calls I receive for charity work. I love doing charity work and performing acts of service for the community, doing my part to help the planet. But, if I say yes to all of the requests for my time, I would have none left do any paid work. I would find myself out of business and unable to pay my bills. How would that be good for the planet? If the CEO flourishes and provides financially for myself, excelling to the highest level, I can then create more time for my Selfless Philanthropy. Basically, it's all about BALANCE. 

Last but certainly not least, it's about TRUTH and COMMUNICATION. I make sure that all of my friends meet all of my personalities. I talk about them openly, with absolutely no fear of judgment, and introduce them in casual conversation. This allows me to be ME, my authentic self. I don't have to hide, I don't have to be fake, I don't have to live a lie. Actually, having these personalities is therapeutic. They allow me to feel genuine all the time. My friends even know to ask for the personality that they need, when they need it. If a lover wants/needs a friend, they ask for the Selfless Philanthropist. He is the best platonic friend. Or, they might ask for the Intellectual if they want to philosophize and/or debate a contentious topic of interest. If a friend needs professional advice, the CEO is perfect for the asking. Once you define the personalities and their purpose, it is easy to select the right one. 

In summary, I have learned that to ‘Clean Out My Dirty Laundry’ I have to first ‘sort’ my laundry. This ‘sorting’ must be both with my multiple personalities and with my human connections. When I meet people, I filter. I look for their purpose, their wants, their needs, and I mix and match with mine. In this way I can ensure that the right colors are together. Alignment.

You, too, can ‘Clean Out Your Dirty Laundry’. It is easy, effortless, and it is a choice we can all make.

If you have a selfless side, you probably have mistakenly mismatched it with a selfish person in the past. It seems normal. It seems like it should work. They take, you give. In theory, it makes sense. However, this is not healthy; it is Parasitic Symbiosis. The parasite feeds at your expense. The parasite will leave you empty, drained and in pain. Instead, I have learned to match my selfless side with other selfless people. The selfless always want to give, so you will actually have to debate on who will be giving and who will be receiving. It is the most beautiful debate to be engaged in- two people both wanting to give to one another, and not wanting to receive anything in return. As you negotiate, you will both learn how to receive, as it is the only way to make each other happy. MUTUALISTIC SYMBIOSIS. This should be the goal, the higher calling, the ultimate purpose. If we chose all of our relationships as Mutualistic, relationships that both give and receive without causing harm to one another, with reciprocity being the goal, then happiness and bliss are guaranteed.

Juan Calderon