One Track Mind: Life as a Subway Dancer by Jake Naughton
Chris Gonzalez is a subway dancer who dances to free himself from the bad he's done. Because of his criminal record, every day he goes underground is a risk, but he's determined to leave that behind and make a new future for himself.
Long Description: Christopher Gonzalez, 26, dances for many of reasons, but mostly to escape — he has a lot to run from. Until he was three years old, he and his mother, who is deaf and suffers from disabilities, lived in a homeless shelter on Staten Island. Eventually he, his sister and mom moved into the Frederick Douglass projects on the Upper West Side. His mother and father had a rocky relationship and when Chris was six years old, his father was killed. His aunt, “the rock of the family” died two years later.
While in high school, Chris began dating a young woman and they had a child together. Chris discovered that the woman was much younger than she had told him and after a minor dispute involving the police and the newborn child, at 19, he was convicted of statutory rape in the second degree. As a result, each day he goes to dance is a risk.
A few years later, he met a woman who lives upstate, and together they had a son named Julian. As a result of a falling out between the two, Chris has not seen Julian, whom he calls, “my world, my heartbeat…who I get up for” in more than two years.
Now, Chris is throwing all that negativity into his dance, in the hopes that he can make his mark. With the increased attention to urban dance movies and television shows have brought to the art, it’s rare to hear the voice behind the moves.
TRANSCRIPT: I don't care about the money. To me, I don't care. Dancing is dancing. I love to dance this is what I do. I get up with my heart doing a dance beat (beats). You know that's my heart beat. For that quick 30 seconds of my life, I feel like I'm known. I feel like I'm the best dancer in the world. I feel like I'm on top of the world.
At 19, I ended getting in trouble with the law. They gave me ten years probation. It just changed my whole life around. Like, it, it just killed me. There were times that I just thought about like, I didn't want to be here no more. Be honest, like I just didn't want to be here.
The risk of getting on that train every day is, what if you don't come back home? Maybe you know, me getting arrested and they using me being on probation against me and I get violated. Let let's put him away for the remainder of his probation. Damn. That's three that's three to two years of my life gone.
I put everything that I went through since I was a child to now, in my dance. It cleanses all the bad things that I have done in my life. It makes me forget everything I ever done, that I wasn't supposed to do and I still hold on to. So when I dance, I’m free from everything.
Related Stories: nymag.com/news/articles/reasonstoloveny/2013/subway-dancers/
Outlets: Narratively, VICE, NYT (dream big)