Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Dancing Manifesto

What do Channing Tatum and I have in common?

No it’s not the bedroom eyes (thank you for noticing though), and no it’s not the supreme physique and the ability to make women swoon (though I mean, I could if I wanted to...really).

No no, according to latest issue of Details Magazine, what Mr. Tatum and I have in common is a love of dancing.

I know this is not going cement my status as an uber-man, but I really love to dance. I have since I was very young. In fact, I have loved dancing since I was old enough to shake a limb. But for as much as I love to dance, I haven’t always enjoyed dancing.

When I was a really little kid I remember going to weddings of family dressed up in my little blue blazer with gold buttons and a red clip on tie. Thanks to my mother my hair would be perfectly parted on the side with military precision.

And I would stay that dapper until the point in the party when some DJ with a 4 dollar Vanilla Ice haircut invited all the kids out onto the dance floor.

At that point it immediately became my mission to get as sweaty as humanly possible in the shortest amount of time. And I loved it. Dancing felt good.

But then came puberty and a time of insecurity and self preservation. I began closely hording my inhibitions, stuffing them into a sack on my back like I was saving them for the insecurity apocalypse, the time when I would REALLY need them.

That time, as it would turn out, was the year of the Sweet Sixteens.

Sweet Sixteens are when girls (especially girls from Long Island) celebrate their 16th birthday by having their parents throw them an elaborate party in a catering hall complete with a very fancy dress, a DJ, a buffet meal, and a lengthy candle ceremony whereby the girl thanks the 16 most important people in her life thereby causing incredible riffs in friendships.

Jenny: Oh my god I can’t believe I didn’t get a candle
Stacy: I know. She’s such a bitch. Let’s go get 8 other girls and go to the bathroom.

While I loved going to Sweet Sixteens (much to my mother’s dismay as she had to buy me a gift for all of them) it became like a mini West Side Story. The girls started the night on the side of the room with the dance floor, and the guys did so on the side with the seats. I was eager to get out on the floor and start dancing and socializing with girls, but I was unable to do so.

Why? Well, much to my dismay, no self respecting teenage guy walks into a Sweet Sixteen and immediately starts dancing. No you have to sit around for an hour or two while the females gathered into circles and dance by themselves. Because ya know, you have to get a couple Pepsis in you before you go out on the dance floor.

It was an amazing foreshadowing of what would come later in life when guys don’t dance until they get enough beers in them not to care. It’s like they knew that in a couple years they would have regular access to alcohol and they were already practicing the timing on how long it would take them to be drunk enough to dance.

And I wasn’t the toughest guy to begin with. I was trying to fit in with the jocks and whomever else was loud enough to appear confident. So chiming in with a, “Hey guys who feels like dancing?” just wouldn’t fly.

But that’s all I really wanted to do.

By the time college rolled around my group of friends wasn’t really one to go dancing. I distinctly remember my friend Russ asking me freshman year if I wanted to go dancing. For whatever reason I couldn't that night but I can only imagine the look of longing on my face. It was like he had asked me if I wanted to go to a pool party at the playboy mansion.

In fact one of the scariest things I ever did in my life was take dance classes in college. There is no sitting around and warming up in that room. And you can’t be there for any other reason. If someone asks you why you’re not dancing in a dance class you can’t say,

“Oh I am just waiting until after the candle lighting ceremony.”

If you are in a dance class, you just have to forget your inhibitions and dance. It wasn’t until after college that I really hit my dancing stride (pun intended).

It was also after college that I realized one of my biggest complaints about dancing in general.

It’s the criticism. We’re all guilty of it.

Look at that guy, he looks ridiculous.

Yea but I bet he feels amazing.

If somebody wants to flail around in the middle of the dance floor like an epileptic witch doctor at a rave in Ibiza… I say more power to them!

You see there is no such thing as “not being able to dance.”

If you are catatonic, sure, you are not able to dance. I will give you that. But everybody else can dance.

One leg? You can dance. In a wheel chair? Of course you can dance. Fat, skinny, or German? Dance it up my friend.

Sure you may not look great while you dance. You might not be able to follow the beat particularly well. And you may step on more toes than Kanye at an awards show, but you can still dance.

Dancing is just the art of shaking your body around, moving with music (or against it for that matter) and just living. It is cathartic, it is pure, and it is beautiful.

And yet people continue to make the argument that themselves or others cannot dance.


Nobody ever tells a toddler they can’t dance. As a 6 year old in my sweaty clip-on haze, I don't remember ever hearing anybody say to me, “Hey kid, you can’t dance, you suck, go home.”

No of course not. That’s ridiculous. Nobody tells little kids they can’t dance and nobody should ever tell you.

It is the simplest thing in the world. It is elemental. It is expressive, elegant, or aggressive. But whatever it is, it is distinctly you.

I argue that you should dance just because it makes sense to. Dancing just makes sense, and that is reason enough to. Dancing makes sense. And in fact, with all the things going on in our world from earthquakes to contract breaks, it might be the only thing in this life that truly does.



Anonymous said...

Love the recent addition of photos for each blog entry! Very nice touch.

Caroline B said...

...shake your groove thang, Richard...

Sorry, can't believe I said that, don't know what came over me!

rxBambi said...

hmmm, I'm not much of a dancer. I guess I just don't "feel" it. I want to tho. Maybe I'll try again. Wait, can I be drunk? On a table? Or a bar? Then maybe I could dance.

CMPointer said...

Thanks for visiting my blog. I commented on your comment there, but I just had to come visit your blog. I'm very glad I did. Your writing is hilarious! I love it. And I definitely agree with you on the dancing. It does make sense.

Even dancing on tables and the like.

Though maybe no pics of those.

Family Stories

Travel Bug said...

One of the things that makes me laugh (and also makes me love my dad that little bit more than I already do) is watching him dance. No matter what the tempo or genre, dad has his little shuffle/arm swing/head nod perfected.
And as a woman who is well known to be the first one on the dance floor, I completely understand your frustration at the unofficial designated wait time at parties/clubs/etc.
On a different topic altogether, I couldn't help but notice that one of the followers of your blog has naked breasts (hopefully female...?!) as their profile picture. Interesting.

Travel Bug said...

Oh, I forgot to add that, unfortunately, that little ditty you mentioned between the 2 girls wanting to start a war due to not being "chosen", never ceases to occur with some women. I know some women who are in their sixties that still behave in such a manner. Personally, I think it's ridiculous, but that could be because I am well accustomed to not being chosen! Ha! Seriously, high school just never ends for some people (insert eye rolling action here) :)

The Girl said...

This is the problem I have with "So you think you can dance?"

Actually Mr Lithgowe I KNOW I can friggin well dance.

Can I dance according to your narrow framework of what constitutes 'dancing'? but that's not the name of the show. That would just be unwieldy.

jorg wobblington lopez said...

I don't dance often, but i did recently. I like it. I agree it's cathartic and therapeutic. I've learnt to accept that I look like a nerd when doing so, but drunk dancing? A bad decision. With drunk dancing comes bumping and grinding, and I am not skilled enough in the dancing arts to handle that, drunk or not. But ladies you'd never want to talk to in real life are, apparently. said...

I'm a dancin' diva but my hubby...not so much. Wish he had your dance moves. Love your writing so I'm dancing along as a new follower. Bust a move over to my place and perhaps return the favor.

christel said...

I have our group dance performance on video from Susan's Hip Hop family viewed it over the holidays this year...classy. Just keep shakin' that groove thang!

Jennifer C said...

you are my new best friend. 1. Because you said you like lady gaga. 2. Because you like dancing, and probably dance like a maniac, like me and 3 - most importantly - because you like to clap ( just read your twitter update on your side bar). i ALWAYS clap!!!!

soul mates!? *CLAPPING*

It's All Good said...

I think you may enjoy this quote than...

Pat said...

Bend over let me see you shake your tail feathers!

I bet you are a riot to be out with and dance with! I love to see guys dance around especially if they do their own thing.

Anonymous said...

You are a hilarious writer. This blog had me laughing all the way threw. Sorry you had to deal with the terrible situation, but what grand entertainment the story has made for me.