Madonna’s “Hung Up” came over the speakers as I was doing a bit of housekeeping this morning.
Now, while I am not a great fan of Madonna’s, I will be the first to admit that the woman can put a dance track together like almost no one else, and this is a great example. So, there I am, all six foot, 260 pounds of me, up to my elbows in dishwater, dancing in front of my sink.
Go ahead and laugh. I’ll wait.
So, when I caught a glimpse of my reflection in the window, my first reaction was one of supreme embarrassment and then, (uh oh, here it comes) I started thinking “why do people get so embarrassed to be seen dancing?”
Like a lot of high school kids, I was too shy to dance and covered it up with sarcasm and, admittedly poor, attempts at humor. Occasionally, down in the clubs in Mexico, where the dance floor was so crowded no one could really see me, and, let us be honest, I was loosened up by the free flowing availability of Corona and Dos Equis, and I was able to get my dance on.
This gradual loss of un-willingness to be on the dance floor kept up through college and university and into the years beyond but the embarrassment remained; I always felt acutelyself-concious out there, exposed, for everyone to see.
Then, several years ago, in San Diego, things converged* in my mind and I stopped caring. By the time I got to Japan I was more than willing to get out on the floor at any given opportunity and that has only increased with age and, ahem, maturity. These days I do not feel embarrassed by my own dancing, I more feel sympathy for those who are still embarrassed by theirs.
This was all further confirmed in my mind by a story that was related to me last night at a party. One person I know was at a loss for how to continue the conversation during a small dinner party he was hosting in his apartment, so he stood up from his chair, walked into the next room and began dancing. On his own, by himself, just a way of passing the time and enjoying the evening. We laughed at the story,** but at the same time, my thought was truly “Hell yeah”. I admire that kind of balls-out expressiveness*** and I think it should be encouraged more by our collective society.
So, go on, dance.
*1. Really good dancers don not look down on bad dancers. Most of
them are more than willing to help out with a few pointers and
generally have a “the more the merrier” attitude. 2. Dancing is fun
and enthusiasm counts for a hell of a lot on the dance floor. 3. I
was so incredibly angry at myself for letting embarrassment and
self-conciousness keep me from a good thing and I promised myself that
that was never going to happen again.
**We expanded on the idea by speculating what reactions would be if, as teachers, we were to enter the classroom dancing and to actually use dances in our lessons. For example, there were several popular dances a few years back based on everyday activities – mowing the lawn, the grocery cart, the sprinkler, so why not a few dance moves based on teaching – turn the page, work together, listen/repeat. Anyway, we thought it was funny.
***One of my favorite memories from working at NOVA was in between classes one day, one teacher was listening to a Daft Punk CD and, during his favorite song, while standing up to gather his materials for the next class, began dancing. Another teacher, just walking in from lunch paused just inside the door, saw him dancing, heard the music and just joined him without ever saying a word or expressing any surprise. She just took it in and started dancing with him. It was perfect.
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