This past weekend I went to a beautiful and enjoyable wedding. A few hours in, I was dancing energetically to “Shippin’ up to Boston” in crazy platform heels, having a blast. As I danced I thought about how much I have learned from always being the first on the dance floor, and from often being the wildest.
Despite a distinct lack of talent I am often possessed by the boogie monster, dancing around at the copy machine, at the post office, in line at the grocery store. I long ago learned to give in to my love of motion, and I’m glad I did. Turns out I had a lot to learn.
Dancing is just moving how you want to move.
I will never forget the day my mother told me that she’d had a revelation. “Margaret, I figured something out. Dancing is just moving how you want to move!” And then she moved how she wanted to move all over the kitchen.
I had already begun to establish my reputation as a most energetic dancer (more on that later). The more I danced, the less I cared whether my dancing resembled any sort of choreography or polished moves. I was just moving how I wanted to move. My joy was complete when at a family wedding a few months later my mother was out there with me, moving how she wanted to move.
— 2 —
Circles are safe, but constellations are more fun.
You know the party is bumping when everyone is standing on a circle on the dance floor, awkwardly shifting weight from one foot to the other and low-clapping along to the music. When you’re in one of those circles, it’s pretty safe. The people near you aren’t looking at you, and if you’re lucky some fool will go in the middle and give you someone to laugh at.
This can be fun with the right groups, but I much prefer my dancing sprinkled around the dance floor like a constellation of stars. Turn one way, and you’re sharing a boogie with the mother of the bride. Pivot in another direction and you can sashay up to an old friend. You might feel more exposed, but you’re also more connected.
Haters gonna hate.
There will always be someone laughing at you if you dare to go all in. Dance big anyway. (Didn’t Mother Teresa say that?)
It’s better to be looked over than over looked.
Maybe this is my natural extroversion coming out, but I think that being noticed is much better than blending in. So when people approach me to tell me that they have noticed my dancing (never to say it was good, just that they’ve noticed it) I am happy to thank them graciously and move on.
Having a reputation isn’t so bad.
So I’m a little shameless? Big deal. If managed unwisely, shamelessness can have notable downsides. Onn the bright side, I’m the person who gets invited to try the fitness class that no other friend would try, who is gifted with scarves so loud that only I would be willing to wear them, and who is the first one urged out on the dance floor.
Better exhausted in the evening than bored all day.
Speaking of shame, shame on me if I go out and don’t come home with sore legs and feet. It’s worth a little pain to have the excitement of interacting with people all night.
This axiom has become a guiding principle of my life. I am often exhausted in the evening, because I say yes to many things, because I love many things, because I’m addicted to the hustle. I infinitely prefer a slightly manic life to placidity.
All you need to be is confident.
This is the most important lesson of all, worth every snide comment, every sore foot, even a few injuries: go out there and dance like you mean it, and the world will dance with you. The second you start to worry what you look like, in life and in recreational dancing, is the second it all goes to hell.
So dance like it’s what you were born to do. It very well may be.
What have you learned from dancing? Are there other activities from which you’ve learned similar lessons?
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