Not all music is made to dance to, but all drumming is dancing,
even if the rhythm is so abstract the drummer is the only dancer in the room.
While there are some instances where being the only dancer in the room makes (sort of) sense, free improv, ambient, or introducing rhythms that are exotic and whose kinetic potential takes time for the audience to understand, rhythm is at its most powerful when it is able to infect a room with a pulse that compels you to move.
Notwithstanding the inertia-dictating set-up of most jazz venues today, jazz was created as dance music, not as music for chin-stroking-intellectuals, unwilling to even move to tap their feet.
As dance and music evolved from jazz into a myriad of styles, those who were firmly stuck to their seats took refuge in an academic approach to listening that froze their bodies even further.
Samuel Beckett once wrote: 'Dance First, Think Later'.
It seems that some people have taken Beckett's line as confirmation that it's impossible to do both at the same time, a perfect excuse to not move and look down on dance music as self-evidently 'thoughtless'.
However, thought drives action, and in her book Unthought, Katherine Hayles describes how certain impulses bypass the mind to work directly on the body. Rhythm is one such impulse and can go straight from the source to your body. A stubborn insistence on filtering rhythm through the mind before it's allowed to twitch your muscles merely breaks the direct link between reality and experience; the synergy between performer and audience.
The result of such broken synergy is often a room full of people gasping to understand what is happening on a stage where a band is too busy playing to themselves to notice they have an audience.
That music can be highly complex,
challenging, thought provoking and fuse styles from around the world without compromising on its body-moving force is apparent in electronic dance genres such as Chicago Footwork, Grime, UK Bass and jungle.
To get people moving, perhaps more drummers should dance first, think later, get rid of seats at gigs, go clubbing more often and remember the words of Funkadelic: Free Your Mind, Your Ass Will Follow!
Merijn Royaards, performer, electronic musician and drum teacher