I don’t like dancing. I have nothing against dancing as a means of self-expression, only that I don’t like expressing myself through dance. I never wanted to go to any school dances, but I had a girlfriend who wanted to go, and I wanted to fit in, and so I found myself at a number of semi-formal events hosted in the gymnasium. The songs they played were songs I knew; pop hits, rap singles, and some classic ballads to balance the mood. I like to tap my feet or nod my head in rhythm, but that’s about the extent of my desire to move.This, of course, did not fly with my girlfriend, and so I found myself swaying on the dance floor, trying my best to smile.
I hold nothing against my girlfriend of the time; she wanted to dance, and I wanted to make her happy, so I danced. I could have said no and she would have accepted that, but she would feel let down. I figured it was a small price to pay, being uncomfortable for an hour to see her blush and smile and laugh. She liked to dance. My friends liked to dance. My parents, aunts and uncles, brother and sister, they all liked to dance. I know I’m the odd girl out here, and it makes me think I was missing something that everyone else had.
Once I was out of high school avoiding dancing was easy. My college didn’t host any dances, and I made friends who would rather play Pokemon on a Friday night over a trip to the club. Again, nothing against going to the club, it just wasn’t my cup of tea. I loved my weekends, staying up late to finish heated games of monopoly and cooking breakfast for everybody, to help them nurse their hangovers. I felt like I belonged, and I didn’t have to do anything outside of my comfort zone.
Then I met her.
She was just like me; a Pokemon master and lover of all things breakfast. We talked for days about our favorite shows and movies, arguing over what fictional couples we wanted to see and contemplating nicknames for our cars. I talked and talked, more than every year prior to her, and I listened, always prompting conversation, because I loved her voice. I loved the sounds she would make when she was annoyed. I loved going out for burgers, because she would give me her pickle, and she would take my tomatoes, and both of us avoided ketchup like it was the plague. I loved holding hands everywhere; no matter how short the walk might have been, you would seek out my hand, and I felt safe and warm and like forever wouldn’t be long enough with you.
It was during a trip to New York when it happened. In the subway station, waiting on our train, there was a musician playing songs on his violin. He was playing classical music, and was wrapping up one song while people shouted suggestions for the next. I didn’t recognize most of the songs being requested, but when he finally settled on one, it was a familiar tune; Stevie Wonder, Isn’t she lovely. God, I love that song. It’s catchy and romantic and sappy as hell, but it’s the perfect amount of audio sugar to satisfy my sweet tooth.
I found myself tapping my feet. A second later I was nodding my head. One more second, and we were both rocking back and forth, fingers laced. I wrapped my free arm around your waist and swung you around, and you giggled at my overacting. We twisted and turned and we were shaking our booties like nobody was watching. But there were plenty of people watching; this was a New York subway station after all. Still, in that moment, I could have sworn we were the only 2 people in the world. I couldn’t get enough, and we went all out, ending our frenzy in a huge twirl and dip. I honestly didn’t think I could dip you without dropping you, but I felt compelled to try, and luckily for us my arms held on.
The whole thing lasted less than 3 minutes. We weren’t good dancers; nothing we did was impressive. We had a few people laugh and clap as we bowed, and the violinist was smiling, and we throw him a $20, because I didn’t have any small bills, but I refused to leave this man without a tip. Our train arrived, and we packed on with the rest of the crowd, and away we went.
It wasn’t until we got to our next stop that it hit me; I was dancing. Just now, unprompted, in a situation where dancing really wasn’t expected, we danced. It wasn’t a school event. I wasn’t trying to dance to make her smile and laugh. I wasn’t trying to fit in with friends and family and society. I was dancing…just to dance with her.
Dancing can be for passion or art, to make a statement or let off some steam. Dancing can be done alone, in a duo, or an entire ballroom full of people. You can dance to jazz or country, polka or rap. I never clicked with any of those. I never felt a desire to dance. I figured it wasn’t a big deal, and it never bothered me at all.
But with her…I didn’t want to dance as a statement or as art. I didn’t care if we were in a crowd or all alone. I didn’t care about the genre of music, nor the talents of the person making that music. I just wanted to take her…I wanted to take her anywhere and everywhere…and dancing with her made me feel like we were floating, that nothing was more than a few heartbeats away.
I have been out dancing a handful of times since then, for various reasons and with various folk, but that feel of floating hasn’t come back yet. Maybe I just need more time, or more practice. Maybe I need to make it a weekly thing or sign up for dance class. Maybe I should explain this feeling to my family and friends, to see if they can help me. Or maybe…maybe it’s time I just admit it…I don’t like to dance…but I want to dance with you…