I have a confession to make.
I hate dancing in social situations.
It’s embarassing, really. I’m the person who hugs the walls at weddings, edging around the perimeter of the dancefloor to avoid being coaxed (or physically pulled) into doing the Birdy Song, Thriller, or (heaven forbid) the Macarena. I am the perpetual bag-watcher, coat-holder, drink-fetcher. I like to sit, I like to watch. Something about the kind of dancing that takes place on dancefloors, in pubs, in clubs, and occasionally in houses, absolutely terrifies me.
There are no rules. There are no expectations.
And that scares me. I stiffen up. My muscles tighten, my throat closes, my hands clasp around myself in a protective cage. I worry that people are watching me, and I am particularly worried that people who know me expect me to be able to bust out some moves, throw some wicked shapes and generally impress. And I can’t.
On Friday I found myself in a sweaty basement of dance euphoria, replete with poles, platforms, lights, lazers, and what felt like hundreds of thrumming, humming, jiving, gyrating, flexing, flicking, swaying, vibrating, circling bodies. And as usual, I was vascilating between the desire to let loose and enjoy like everyone else, and the fear of looking like a complete moron. So I sort of have a go, without every really letting go.
But I really do like to watch. It’s like seeing an entire universe of life unfolding in a few square metres. Maybe it’s just that my choreographer brain is stronger than my fun brain. But I started to collect a sense of understanding of each of these wildly flailing strangers – that each of their ‘moves’ (or non-moves, in some cases), revealed a little about them, that each twist or pop or shimmy opened up a tiny chink of their personality. I could have dreamt their stories, their pathways, their excitements, or dreary endless minutes spent in front of a computer screen if only to enable a moment of freedom on a Friday night.
But this is all suposition.
What I do know is this: As I turned to my right, I caught a glimpse of my friend. Her eyes were lightly shut, she was oblivious to the world around her, and she was swaying to the remixed version of a recent pop song, the beat slightly increased, so as to promote the slightly manic altered reality of a club environment. A small smile – lips closed, but not anxiously clamped like mine, bitten in pure panic – played across her face, and I could tell that in that moment, there she didn’t have a care in the world. And I really wanted to feel like that.
But maybe in this context, I’m not a dancer. I’m just a watcher. Greedily storing up minutiae, tiny moments of movement, hoarding them, perhaps for them to emerge in a rehearsal studio sometime.
But in the meantime, I’ve really enjoyed reading some tips on how to enjoy myself on the dancefloor.