Dancing does me in

Trying to smile in photos is also something that makes me really uncomfortable

Trying to smile in photos is also something that makes me really uncomfortable

My daughter’s school just had their annual fundraiser a big auction and dinner. It was a serious production with a band, sit down dinner and all kinds of donations from local businesses and from wealthy parents. I find it sad that public schools have to go to such lengths to get enough money these days, but that is another discussion in itself. The theme of the auction was “The 80s”. I went with “business casual”: a coat with shoulder pads, a skinny tie, some amazingly bad jeans that I found at a thrift shop and slip on Vans. I even parted my hair like I used to in Junior High. Despite the silliness of the clothing, I still felt a bit frumpy looking. My wife found a fantastic dress and accessories and looked great. After the dinner and auction there was dancing, and despite all the costumes and decorations it took that to really sent me for a time warp back to the 80s.

I’ve never really been comfortable dancing. I enjoyed my junior high dances (in the 80s of course) because in addition to the dance floor they had an adjacent room with ping pong and other table games. I would hang out on the dance floor a bit, only dancing if at all during slow songs, otherwise I was up against the wall somewhere, talking with friends or in the game room. I think I kind of identify with the nerdy guys/wallflowers in Sixteen Candles. Having something to do other than just stand or sit by yourself was a salvation. I didn’t attend many school dances once I got to high school because there wasn’t a game room to escape to.

Anyhow, the dance phobia came roaring back at the auction. I didn’t even try to get on the dance floor, as soon as our table of friends got up to dance I found some excuse to go upstairs so I could watch and not look completely idiotic sitting at the table by myself. I was the only person out of the group of friends who wasn’t dancing. This has happened before, but hearing some of the same songs that used to be played at my junior high such “It Takes Two” by Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock.

and “Pour Some Sugar On Me” by Def Leppard (BTW, the lead singer’s jeans are awesome in that video)

and being so unable to dance made it worse. Here I am, almost 25 years out of Junior High and I still freeze up when it comes to dancing. I still remember a large group of students in junior high all dancing to “It Takes Two” throwing their hands up in time to the music, just having fun, and even way back then feeling bad that I didn’t have the courage or freedom to join the huge circle and have fun. At the auction I tried to entertain myself by watching the band play, but I felt pretty exposed and stupid. I really longed for a game room that night.

I could distance myself from the emotions and realize that I was older and not in junior high anymore. I have danced at times, I have a wonderful wife and even if I wasn’t dancing with her I felt comfort in that she was still there. I didn’t have to worry about never finding someone to be with that would understand me. I think she was still frustrated with me but she didn’t make a big deal out of it, she’s been with me long enough to not be surprised about my avoidance of dancing. Despite my tendency to avoid dancing, the desire to dance with some skill or freedom, to be able to really have fun on the dance floor is really strong. It’s not as if I’ve never been able to dance, but the times are few and generally I just feel too self conscious and uncoordinated and try to get out of doing it. I can’t even do it when I’m alone in the dark, the feeling of awkwardness and embarrassment is too strong. The thoughts that go through my mind are a constant awareness that I don’t know what to do with my body, mostly my upper body. I can shuffle my feet, but the arms just feel useless and clunky. The sole exception to this fear of dancing was when I took salsa classes at the Y during college. Having a choreographed routing made it okay to dance, I didn’t have to come up with what to do with my body, I didn’t go out dancing in clubs, but I loved the classes.

As the night ended we carpooled back home with the friends from our table. No one said anything about me not dancing and they probably didn’t care, but I still felt awkward. The next day I was in a foul mood. At the time I didn’t associate it with the party the night before, but I’m pretty sure that was the cause. The night served as a reminder that I am so unable to participate in groups or fun activities at times because I get so self conscious. My mood finally lifted when I found the charger for my Bluetooth speaker phone that had been missing for about 6 months. I had given up hope of ever finding it, and since it’s one of those silly proprietary connectors I didn’t want to spend the money on a new cable(I really don’t like talking while driving anyways). I had been really annoyed for losing it along with a head-mounted light around the same time. Losing things really bugs me for some reason, so finding it was a nice feeling.

Now a few days out, I’ve been in a relatively constant low state for awhile. My wife is getting sick again, and it turns out that my older daughter tested positive for Mononucleosis(hence the seemingly never ending cold), and I may be getting sick again as well so all that is factoring in. However, I still think coming face to face again with that familiar inability to dance really set the stage. It serves as a reminder about how little progress I’ve made in that area over my life and it also easily morphs into a much bigger statement about my inability to do anything in life. I’m trying to remind myself about the successes I have accomplished, but it’s been hard to do, much more so if I try to believe anything I’m telling myself. So, to end on a positive note, cheers to my charging cable for showing up! And I have to say it was kind of fun seeing these videos again after all these years.

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