In her bi-weekly column for Document, McKenzie Wark works through the feelings of antagonism for all the other dancers.

It can take me a while to get over the antagonism I feel toward other people on the dance floor. Everyone is so annoying. We’re at Flanger, deep into the morning. Clarissa Kimski is closing and it’s a magical set, which should really be working on me. We went light on shrooms and edibles, so I’m chemically in a good place. I like the tail end of raves because we’re usually down to the hardcore. But this morning, it’s been hard to get through the feeling of antagonism toward everyone around me.

Well, not everyone, and sure, some of these fuckers deserve a little ire. We’re house left, close to the sub bass bin. Jenny likes space around her as her limbs are long. She likes room to dance where they can wave like branches in the sonic breeze. I like to work my way into the front row from there, but where she can see me, and if I turn, I can see her. Only once has she ever had to rescue me from a “situation,” but it’s reassuring to me to feel like those long arms can reach in and snatch me to safety if need be.

There’s no drama this morning. It’s a chill crowd, a raver crowd. I still find ways to be annoyed. To get out of the irritation, I try to imagine what’s going on with all these humans around me. Like this straight couple. Whenever she starts dancing, really dancing, he has to get her attention back. Maybe he is just insecure. Maybe her dancing with the crowd takes her attention away from him. I think she should ditch his ass.

To get away from them, I push through to the front. There I find some cis guy having an intense, earnest, drug-fucked conversation with a cis woman, who I don’t sense is his girlfriend. It’s this little vortex of bad energy right smack in front of Clarissa. I try to ignore it but somehow even if I can’t see them I can feel them. I hope whatever it is, they work it out. I edge over to house right to get away.

This is where I realize that this antagonism is my own resistance to the collective feeling of the rave. It’s not about these other people, really. It’s that I’m finding ways to separate myself, to resist the pull of merging into all this flailing flesh. I’m projecting onto these other people my disdain and judgment, because I’m not ready to let go of the separateness of the self and just blend with the beat. I have to work on letting go of myself. And the way to do that is to move, really move, put my whole body into it.

Everyone has an image of their embodiment that is the internal expression of their flesh, and it’s never all that accurate. I have an image of my body as slight, frail, and vulnerable. Which is true up to a point, but sometimes I forget that this bag of bones has held up through 62 years of fighting gravity. I hold it separate from the world for fear it’ll break on contact. I find ways to hold onto this separateness through these antagonistic feelings towards the other dancers.

This is what I have to work on. I have to let go of this holding back. Clarissa is a big help. I’m finding so many ways to wedge this moving body into the sound. Magically, when I let go, it seems like those dancing around me are the most delightful humans. The shirtless white cis man right in front of me is moving with such commitment, sweat beading on his delicately chiseled torso. He bumps into me and smiles in apology, I smile my It’s fine! smile back. Next to him is a smaller human with a mullet, bopping on the balls of their feet, gliding like a gyroscope. Some of the moves are alarmingly sudden but so convincing I don’t care.

I’m finding both my body’s strength and also its capacity for connection. I can still feel the limits of its strength, its slightness, but not only that. I sense its capacity, it’s ongoingness. It’s not exactly sexual, this sense of being, but it’s connected to it. Like an annex to sexuality, and one that can be shared. A good dancefloor is polyamory without touch.

Everything is starting to hurt. I’ve been at this for a while. I do my little turn and I can’t see Jenny over at house left. Shrooms make me clingy and emotional, and like a little kid I feel lost for a moment. I’m high enough to know there’s a mineshaft of feelings about abandonment that can open up in me, but I’m also not so high that I know I can acknowledge those feelings are there and close the lid on them for now. As I complete the turn I find she’s now on the other side, house right. She gives me a little wave to say “surprise!” And all is well with the world.

It’s a question now of what sort of pain I’m experiencing. Pushing up against limits can be good. This body is slowing down, but it need not come to a complete halt yet. Seems like a level of pain that is more like information. This body is telling itself that it’s been working hard, and for a while. That it will need water and fuel and rest, probably in that order.

It feels good to become a body sharing information with itself, surrounded by these other bodies, and in sight of the one I love. But this is what some part of my brain resisted. This is what some impulse didn’t want me to become. The antagonism toward others was getting in the way of this. I have to be antagonistic toward my own antagonism to get through it, to get to here. But when I get here, it’s good.