Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Dance like everyone's watching

A little while ago, well actually a long while ago, I went out dancing with a good friend from “back in the day”. Every once in a while she and I re-enact the good old times shared when we were twenty. For the sake of this post, I should probably mention that I’m now thirty and obviously living a very different life. 

I don’t often go out because finding a 'sitter is nearly impossible, as is ‘hangover parenting’ the next morning (truly a horrible experience). I hate to admit it, and it probably speaks to my age; but it’s just not worth it. Speaking of which, has anyone else noticed that hangovers get ridiculously awful with age? I don’t recall them lasting three days and feel like I should have been warned.  

Anyway, the point of all this was my friend saying with a big smile “oh I remember your dancing” after I had enjoyed a few drinks and was subsequently comfortable enough to make my debut on the dance floor.

The next morning in addition to my pounding headache was the memory of her saying that. What did she mean? Were my dance-moves THAT good? Or was it the opposite? Most likely it was the latter. I’m sure it’s not just me who feels slightly (ok, very) insecure about dancing, so I decided that I should probably see what I look like when I dance.

I then did something I wouldn't recommend to anyone else: I watched a video clip from a wedding of some friends and I dancing. I’m not going to lie, it was an uncomfortable experience. There was far too much happening with my hips, my shoulders and hands were operating as two separate entities that seemed to be at war with each other, and on my face was a cross between ‘duck-lips’ and Bell's Palsy (I’m really sorry if that offends anyone – it’s not my intention as Bell's Palsy is no laughing matter...I'm just not sure how else to describe it). I suppose at the time I thought I looked sexy and alluring, but alcohol works in mysterious ways. The only thing that made the experience enjoyable was re-watching it in slow motion. In order to really appreciate the hilarity of watching yourself dance in slow-motion you would have to also try it. I don't think I've ever laughed so hard.

The disappointing realization that I dance like I have a neurological disorder surprisingly hasn't been a deterrent from further embarrassing myself. I figured it was a challenge that I could overcome with practice. That’s where having a toddler comes in handy – every day is dance-party day! So Isla and I would put on some reggae tunes and get our dance on in front of the mirror. She’s been doing what we’ll call her ‘signature move’ since she first turned two. I don’t know where she learned it (I swear it wasn’t me) but if anyone witnessed it first hand I would probably get a few raised eyebrows. Basically she puts her hands on the floor in front of her and shakes her bum back and forth in the air. Oh, it’s something. In addition to that questionable move, there is no doubt that the kid has rhythm. It’s clear from a very young age that she won’t have to worry about whether or not she can dance. Apparently for her it’s innate (much like her Dad).

Then there’s me. All I’m missing when I dance are little guns that I’ve made my hands into, pointed sporadically at the floor on the off-beat. While you’re trying to shake that image from your head, I can confirm that regardless of how hard one tries to learn new and improved dance moves, one will not change. Maybe with the help of a professional, but that might even be pushing it.

This got me thinking, where did I pick up these pseudo skills? Was I born with them? It’s basically the age old question: Nature or Nurture? Since dance is clearly something you’re born with (I know this after watching both of my kids bop their fat little legs to the beat before they were able to stand on their own), I was probably just destined to be awkward on the dance floor.


With the unrelenting hope that I might one day improve, I find myself trying to mimic other moves that I see first hand, or on tv (which usually doesn’t bode well). The problem is even if I find a new dance that feels and/or potentially looks OK; I would only do it for about 10 seconds before automatically and subconsciously going back to what I presume is my instinctive way of dancing. It’s obviously something I can’t control.

So if you’re reading this and worrying to yourself that if you and I go out one night, I may steal your moves; fear not, as I am apparently incapable. With that said I feel like I should mention that I probably will try, only to then promptly fail. Colour me persistent.

At the very least I know I’m not alone in my admittedly embarrassing insecurities. I always make sure to take heed to the audience at a televised concert. In one word I can sum up the crowd: awkward. No one knows whether to sway, jump, sing along, or just stand there; it’s actually really funny…and also comforting. Clearly if the entire audience were heavily intoxicated (like, for instance, at a wedding reception) then everyone would be on top of the world and showcasing their best moves.

It seems though, alcohol aside, that the only categories of people who are comfortable enough to dance like no one’s watching are the supremely confident (whom I envy), and kids. If there’s one thing I wish I hadn’t grown out of, it would be that. Also the pants I wore in high school, come to think of it.

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