Growing up, it seems like opportunities to awkwardly dance with friends, classmates and total strangers abound. Starting in the eighth grade, I was a frequent attendee of “dances” in the school’s gymnasium — times I could dress up in my little skirts, put on a pair of low heels and (attempt to) straighten my hair (Please note: I’ve since ceased all attempts at straightening my unstraightable hair. Forever). A sweaty 13-year-old would ask for my hand, he’d slip those beefy arms around my waist and away we would go! Of course, “dancing” then consisted of stepping back and forth and side to side. No pressure. Nothing much going on.
From those first, innocent days, we had the homecoming dances and winter formals of high school. Months of preparation were required to find the right dress and scrounge around for a date, putting out feelers through friends to see if some random guy who sat parallel to your table at lunch would be interested in, you know, taking you or something. When I was formally asked to attend my first homecoming dance with a date in my sophomore year of high school, I was ecstatic. Seriously. I don’t think I’ll ever forget that soul-soaring, overwhelmingly joyous feeling of being asked out of my very first date (aww). But, as the joy began to wear thin and the event drew closer and closer, the anxieties began to set in . . . Do I even really know how to dance? What is dancing? Do I just move around like a crazy person? Should I stand as still as possible, letting the guy do all the work? If we’re “slow dancing,” do I need to have my arms around his neck — or his waist? Do we stand close, or far apart?
What is happening?!
Dancing was, for me, a mystery. I survived that homecoming dance with very few bruises and fewer totally awkward dance moves — and was even asked to be someone’s girlfriend (that’s another crazed blog entry!). But I will admit that, to date, dancing is still a puzzle which I’m unsure how to begin solving.
Thankfully, opportunities to break it down in the present are pretty scarce. We have weddings to attend, but you don’t have to dance. No one’s going to make you. The bride and groom might throw you dirty looks for being an uncooperative party pooper or something, but hey — they’re your two left feet. My days battling the general nervousness and sweatiness of adolescence, and the accompanying proms, are over!
Until I go to a show.
So let’s jump into the presnet. This past Tuesday, I attended a performance in D.C. put on by the one and only Ms. Britney Spears. I say performance because, you know, it wasn’t a concert. She wasn’t singing live (save a few songs). But that’s okay with me, really, because girlfriend was working it out! I’ve never seen so much dancing in my life — and definitely not with such a complex array of performers gyrating around her, too.
And I’ve never seen so many skinny girls in their twenties dancing in one place ever. Definitely not at the homecoming dances, not at the proms — not at the formals. Just dancing. Everywhere. So much so that the Verizon Center was shaking. When Brit launched into “Hit Me Baby One More Time,” I was pretty sure the rafters were going to come down.
And there I was, acting ridiculous. Hip checking my sister. Waving my arms above my head. Dancing along to opening act the Pussycat Dolls’ rendition of “Jai Ho” (good God, I love “Jai Ho!”). I wasn’t thinking about those homecoming dances where I stood in the low heels and the little skirts with some weird guy’s arms around me — I was shaking my moneymaker. And any worries I had about looking totally ridiculous faded out when the heavy beats kicked in.
I have a long history of dancing like I have no sense at concerts. Put John Mayer in front of me and I worry that you’ll never want to be seen with me again. I’m usually hesitant to attend with anyone other than my sister, who’s typically as excited as I am, and usually feel compelled to worn boyfriends about my impending deranged behavior. I try to be kind and give them an out before the event actually begins. If they see me in all of my full-concert-dancing glory, I fear I will have changed in their eyes!
But hey, it’s a good time. If you’re not going to leave your inhibitions at the venue door, why bother going? Like homecoming dances and the Prom, we’re all here to have a good time. Maybe that’s why everyone’s always downing so many beers at these things . . . ?