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I Don’t Dance

I would like to write for the moment about something those of you who know me may have noticed about me: I do not dance. Last night, this was made quite clear to a group of you (you know who you are!). Let me say, I honestly appreciate your efforts. I need people in my life who are willing to try to coax me out of my shell, to participate in those social activities that often I am so reluctant to engage in. I’m really grateful for those of you who do this for me. But I would now like to explain, as best I can, my specific aversion to dancing, and why, for now at least, it’s basically futile and hopeless to try to get me to do this particular activity.

I’ll begin by admitted that I have actually danced, really danced, on a few occasions. The most memorable of these was when I went to a Beastie Boys concert in Toronto. I think I was about 16 at the time, and the Beastie Boys were my favorite group. I thought they were the best thing ever, and I was so excited about this concert, I basically didn’t care about anything else going on around me. And when they played “Puttin shame in your game,” which for some reason I thought was the most incredible song ever at the time (I still think it’s a pretty good song), I just lost it. One reason, I think, was because I wasn’t even really expecting them to play it; though I had a strange affinity for it, it wasn’t one of their more popular songs. So when it came on, I felt like it had been put there just for me. Suddenly I didn’t care about anyone around me, or what I looked like…I just felt the need to move to the music. I think that eventually I was moving about so hard that I cleared out a five foot radius circle around me in the crowd–though my memory is probably exaggerated on this point. I probably looked ridiculous, but I didn’t care.

My point is, I achieved a true dancing moment then. The right circumstances in my life converged so that dancing was the natural thing for me to be doing. But this is incredibly rare for me, and here is my main point: I don’t think that this is entirely because I’m shy and reserved. I think these aspects of my personality are why people tend to assume that I don’t want to dance. So they think to themselves: if I can just get him to overcome his inhibitions, he’ll be dancing and enjoying it! So I’d like to respond to this: not necessarily. Don’t assume you know the whole of why someone doesn’t want to do something. It’s rarely a simple thing. I used to think the high school principal would enjoy a good “bong rip,” if he just wasn’t so uptight. And maybe I was right about my school principal being uptight. But I never thought that he might have other good reasons for not wanting to smoke weed.

So I am certainly shy and reserved, but this isn’t the whole of why I don’t want to dance. Or, at least, if I overcame these things in the contexts in which I am naturally expected to dance, it wouldn’t mean that I’d suddenly be in the mood for dancing. It wouldn’t mean I’d spontaneously be able to get into it. If I’ve learned anything from my limited experience with dancing, it’s that dancing is most certainly something that a person needs to put their entire self into. A person can’t dance unless they really want to–it’s like trying to smile when you aren’t really happy. You can fake it, but basically everyone can tell.

Now, you might argue that dancing is the sort of thing that always starts out like this, as fake and awkward, but eventually you grow to enjoy. And I actually think this is a pretty good counterpoint to what I’ve said here. I’ll admit, I probably could try to get into it, and have some success–on a few occasions, I have done this. And it’s true, I can sort of move with the music; this isn’t totally a foreign thing to me. I can dance to cheesy pop music and not feel like I’m totally faking it. But the whole time I’m basically just hoping it will be over soon. Maybe if I danced for longer, or more often, or had a bit more to drink, I’d finally lose myself in the music. Maybe. But I’m not currently a person whose character is suited to dancing spontaneously, a person for whom this is very often a natural activity, and I’m OK with that. I have no desire for this aspect of myself to change. A person can, by effort, transform himself into something other than he currently is, but that doesn’t always mean that he should. Sometimes it does.

Maybe someday I’ll see things differently. I’m certainly not saying that dancing is a bad thing; it seems to be a very basic human activity. In my last post, I even used the analogy of a dance to describe the relationship between the soul and the body! I was, however, imagining a more traditional sort of dance than the sort I’m usually invited to engage in. Anyway, for now, when any of you drag me to a place of dancing, I’ll probably stick to quietly sipping my drink in the corner and trying not to judge you…

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. June 27, 2009 at 3:51 pm

    I think you’ve got a good point here. I’ve even seen it happen that the more you coax someone into dancing, the less likely he or she is to do it even if he or she DOES like dancing. Dancing is a natural response to music and if your body doesn’t want to do it, then there’s really no good reason that you should. It’d be like eating when you’re not hungry just because someone told you to. (My grandmother always tries to get us to do that, insisting we can’t possibly be full yet.)

    Hope you enjoyed your drink anyway :).

  2. Carrie
    August 30, 2009 at 5:07 pm

    Next time you are in town…sooooo dancing

  3. August 30, 2009 at 8:03 pm

    Well then this better be a club that only plays Beastie Boys.

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