Progression Of My Dancing - 11.07.97

The first mixed-company dance I remember attending was during my eighth grade year. A girl in our class was having a birthday party and she invited everyone in our class to a dance in the basement of her church. It was one of those typical junior-high dances in the way that not too many couples actually formed. For the most part, the guys and girls stuck to their respective sides and only really ran into each other at the cake and drink table. The few brave souls that did take to the dance floor were under the constant supervision of the adults at the party. Although I didn't dance, I remembered having a lot of fun. I talked with a bunch of friends, and after it was all over with, we took what was left of the cake and threw it into the street in front of the church. Not too rebellious, but definitely a good time for an eighth grader.

From that point on, I started having considerably less fun at school dances. The people I used to hang out and chat with started coming with dates, and I was always left standing by myself or sitting down. During the fast songs, I was afraid I would simply look like an idiot. I was tall and lanky and although I busted a move in the privacy of my own bedroom once in awhile, dancing in front of people you knew was entirely different. I thought most of the 'danceable' music that was played was shite anyway, so I was content to simply watch others. Slow songs were a different story completely. Instead of taking any initiative, I simply stood around, hoping that girls I was crushing on would come up and ask me to dance with them. It never happened, and I would usually end up going to dances and then hardly moving the entire night.

Eventually, I became friends with a guy who I'd hang out with at almost every dance. We liked the same kind of music and would usually end up just talking the whole night and poking fun at other people. Once in awhile, we go up and pore through the DJ's music selection. After picking the most obscure song possible, we'd go back and sit down, only to watch the dance floor clear when our tune was spun. We never had the gall to dance, but we'd sit there grinning as everyone else wondered what the hell was coming from the speakers.

My junior year, prom was fast approaching and my friend and I had decided that we would go 'stag' together just to enjoy the free food. My school had rented out a river-boat, so we figured that even if it sucked, the ride would at least be cool. We went and picked out funky tuxes together and had everything planned out.

Less than a week before the dance, my friend called me up and announced that he had found a date. Although I was pissed off, I never said anything to him. Instead, I told him that it was cool with me and that I would figure something out. Instead of going by myself (like I should have), I went to work the next day and asked a girl that I hardly knew if she would go with me. She agreed and everything was set. I had only talked to her about 3 times in my life, but I was stoked because I now had someone to go with also.

Needless to say, my evening at prom was terrible. Besides running late in getting ready, my date and I had almost absolutely nothing in common. It turned out that she had a boyfriend anyway and had only said "yes" because she felt sorry for me. We danced twice the entire night and mainly just sat and shared awkward silence as the river-boat plowed its course. I had spent 100 dollars on a tuxedo and corsage and had a completely crappy time. When my senior year rolled around, I didn't even have to think twice about not going.

When I went off to college, I had some of the same problems. There were a few dances during new student orientation, but I just kind of sat around. The music was decent enough, but I just didn't feel like getting out and dancing in front of a bunch of people I didn't know. About midway through the first semester, a really cool thing happened, though. A bunch of students that went to our school had gotten funding and put together a rave. A friend of mine who was into the scene convinced me to go, despite my objections at first.

Once there, I was totally glad that I had went. The music was pumping loud and there were tons of people there. There were so many unique looking people doing their own thing that it totally didn't matter what you looked like. The music was good, so I stepped out onto the floor and started doing whatever felt natural. It got hot, but I kept right on going. A couple different times, I stopped for a few moments to get a drink and eat some candy that was being distributed.

By the next morning, things were starting to wind down. I was starting to feel it in my legs and I felt sleepy whenever I sat down for a moment. When everything finally came to a stop and we went outside, the sun was already starting to come up. I went back to my room and crashed hard.

That evening and over the course of the next couple years, I learned a couple very important things about dancing in public and myself. One of these is that for the most part, people don't really care one way or the other how people are dancing. If someone looks particularly cool, a mental note might be established to try and learn something. If someone looks silly, a chuckle or comment might take place. Even at this, though, most people don't invest a whole lot of time worrying about what others look like. Usually they're just trying to do their own thing and have a bit of fun themselves.

The second thing I've learned is that it really doesn't matter if people do care what you look like when you're dancing. If you have fun doing it, then you should by all means go ahead and shake your groove thing whichever way you want. There have been many a times when I know that I've probably looked goofy, but I've gotten to the point where it really doesn't matter any more. People that know me won't (or shouldn't, at least) hold my dancing style against me, and I have nothing to lose around people whom I don't know. At worst I'll never see them again, and at best I'll be known as the guy who looks like a noodle when he dances. Either way, it doesn't have a whole lot of bearing on the grand scheme of things.

I still doubt any girls would ask me to dance a slow song, but the clubs I frequent are in my favor by sticking to the stuff that has a nice fast, thumping beat. It's fine by me, I'd probably just end up stepping on their toes anyway.