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Edition #5
Growth and Power
Sarah Hussain
Edited by Laurine Heerema

The dark arts of seduction: A classical waltz with the devil

Step one: always wear red

Rise and fall, rhythmic fluidity, and a close-hold intimacy are all principles of the classical Waltz. It is a romantic dance that forces a partnership towards idealism and passion, under the influence of melodic triple-metre songs and liberating courtships. Two bodies sway in a net of tied movements, displaying acknowledgment and pledging undying submission to the music that drives them to their bittersweet joy and demise. 


In clandestine fantasies, perhaps you are already waltzing with a face you adore. Perhaps, on the third measure, you have become trapped in a loop and your dance is now but a wilted rose, smelling like inescapable doom. Regardless, the truth is that not all of us get to pick our partner. Sometimes, in the depths of night, we fall like Alice down the rabbit hole of an unrelentless, sinful romance. This romance bears the dampness of a melancholic rainfall, the yearning of the 52 Hertz whale, but a masochistic ache to play the music past midnight, until feet start to bleed and madness ensues.


It is thrilling at first. Like a venus flytrap, to devour and dominate in ways that satiate our partners’ cravings for volatility. We wear red to invite the devil to the waltz, then black to mourn its death when the dance comes to a halt, to play mind games with our partner. Each masquerade mask, each sheet of resin filter creates a push-pull dynamic whereby we can possess pleasures of being both the marionette doll and the puppeteer at once. Don’t get me wrong, the dance doesn’t end there. As an astrophysical singularity, the dance is set in stationary motion to be picked up exactly where it was left last; the hands once again touch in an exciting rush of adrenaline and fleeting joy.

Step two: follow the leader

Mirror your partner’s movements; when they put their left foot forward, you put your right foot back. After all, imitative behaviour is one of many social ramifications of attraction (Farmer et al., 2018). When the dancer in the dark teaches the box-step, we can only let our bodies loose, like a shipwreck, sinking into an intoxicating reverence for the master that, in the moment, governs our senses and intelligence. It is all too glamorous, but there is a phantom flair of enticement in each motion - a maddening mystery. 


Sadly, even after ten songs, it may seem like we know the dance or the masked master, but, like a snowflake, any conviction of self-belief and affirmations melt into the palm of our hands. The leader does not lead to teach, he engineers self-destruction by seizing motion. Sometimes, we figure this out on the first dance, sometimes, on the last, but by that time, it is already too late and everything has become a habitual mess. We begin to miss the masked dancer when the sun is shining and when the routine in the dark commences, a guilt-filled conscience moves with its master, gaunt, and utterly lost.

Step three: bow and courtesy

This is the end; this is the beginning of the end. When the music and the delicate sequences stop. The dancers should then pay one another respect and gesture gratitude for the honour of dance. “But, Sarah, the dance is a damnation to hell and the dancer, the devil.” Yes, but people do not scrutinise the game, for it is the player who participates, both willingly or unwillingly. No one sees the struggle behind closed curtains and even if they do, the dance is so intricate that we begin to mould ourselves into the tune that keeps the tempo. To the world outside my personal ballroom, I am both the leader and the follower. I do this to myself - I choose destruction. I am both the naive victim and the devil who tempts. I wear the red shoes and I am the executioner. I cannot ask for help or scream, because we all have our own dances in which we are locked, and the waltzing does not stop until I have become one or the other. 


But come closer, I'll let you in on a secret: with every step, there is a dangerous vulnerability. Occasionally, the dancers will rise and fall, and they will expose themselves under the moonlight. This is when everyone becomes naked - all of the lines, broken and unbroken, lay bare and seep through cracks. In these moments, one sees the devil for who he truly is: a shadow of man’s ego. When we overtly crave peace and harmony, the shadow seeks pleasure in wreaking havoc to the balance of our mental worlds. Powers are put to play and a subconscious battle of who is stronger rips at the seams of the perfect sutures that keeps every human together. 


For these fragmented moments, we must thank the dance and the dancer; the introduction and constant growth of knowledge of all the good and the ugly is a repression of confrontations we deem ourselves unbrave to face. One can easily forget that the descent into the underworld is just as possible as the ascent from the underworld, because the creatures that lurk under our beds must have come from somewhere, right?

The End

Ah, but there we go again…yearning for another dance. Though, this time, the devil will not extend his invitation, he never did in the first place. Instead, he waits for you like children on Christmas day, with new gimmicks and tales to share. He is smart, but so are you, because he fell for you the moment he laid his eyes on you. You gave the devil a pulse - mortalised him and fooled him into believing he could overtake you. He hides in the shadows for a reason: you haven’t yet given him permission to usurp your throne. You still wear the crown: he can lead the dance, but you still sing the tunes.

So, you’ve flipped a hidden switch. Bedevil the devil, I say!

Congratulations! You have now reached the end of the tutorial and are ready to make your debut in the wallowing world of the waltz. Torrents of musical absorption and hollow affiliations, ritualistic imitation and consuming silence, and the venomous power game pulls at your heels. It is your dance to give and yours to remould; a waltz made of clay, spinning on a wheel you turn. A “kinesthetic” (McKechnie, 2002) expression of your abstract thoughts, both good and evil. The waltz is classically you: reckless, yet timeless.


Farmer, H., Ciaunica, A. and Hamilton, A.F.D.C., 2018. The functions of imitative behaviour in humans. Mind & language, 33(4), pp.378-396.


McKechnie, S., 2002, July. Movement as metaphor: the construction of meaning in the choreographic art. In Proceedings of the 7th International Conference on Music perception and Cognition (pp. 157-160). Sydney: Casual Productions.

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