It happened a number of years ago, at a house party hosted by a friend of a friend. This particular soiree was a dance-themed party, complete with the self-mocking title of “Get Low – Bring It On Two: The Streets,” a tribute to the movie. Street dancing costume: recommended. Willingness to shake your booty: required. It was here, in this Allston apartment crammed full of twenty-somethings, that I first discovered that I cannot dance.
Perhaps a part of me always knew I wasn’t great on the dance floor, but my enthusiasm for dancing to cheesy 80s tunes and chart topping radio beats overshadowed the idea of how ridiculous I might look to others. That night in Allston I was rudely reminded of what others were seeing with a statement I’ll never forget. As I wiggled to whatever tune was playing, a male friend turned to me laughing, and said, “I thought all women had natural rhythm. What’s wrong with you?”
I wasn’t overly offended, considering this particular friend and I have a long-running joke about our mutual love of dancing and our mutual lack of talent. But still, there was a slight sting. Don’t, however, think for a second that the comment stopped me from moving, or relegated me to the corner to sip my beer alone. Instead, I proceeded to dance the night away to all kinds of hip-hop songs, likely looking ridiculous, but not overly concerned about it. I remember it as a great party.
Since then, I’ve been the recipient of several other comments about my dancing skills, or lack thereof. The most recent jab came at a wedding, where the brother of the bride suggested that one way to end the party was to let me loose on the dance floor. Had he seen me doing “The Fisherman” with a groomsman? It’s possible.
It should be said that I am not afraid to pull out the goofy dancing, whether it be at a wedding, a party, or occasionally even a club, if the mood strikes me. I’ve been spotted around town doing “The Sprinkler,” “The Lawnmower,” and a new one I recently learned called “The Pancake.” It involves a variety of steps in which you stir batter, flip pancakes, spread butter on them, and eventually eat them. Definitely a winner. My “Shopping Cart” skills are also exceptional, and I make a great fish in “The Fisherman,” although you’ll need a willing partner for that one, someone who is just as nerdy and okay with it as you are.
Of course, I don’t only rely on the goofy ones. For the most part, my dancing is pretty much unchoriographed. I think the movement starts in the legs, and then I do my best to get the hips and shoulders involved. I also make great efforts to avoid snapping my fingers, but occasionally it happens. I don’t know why. Whatever I’m doing, it’s definitely noticeable. I recently went to a concert at the TD Banknorth Garden that my coworker also attended. She was sitting in a completely different section, but the next morning she was still able to come into the office and demonstrate my moves, much to the delight of my coworkers.
The beauty of all this is that it hasn’t stopped me from dancing. Sure, I occasionally find myself prefacing a dance outing with a warning about my ability, but I’m still out there on the floor, still loving it. I look forward to the day when I can embarrass my children with my skills. Hopefully I will marry a rhythmically inclined man and they’ll inherit that from him. Until then, if you happen to be out in Boston and you spot someone doing “The Lawnmower” on the dance floor with a big smile on her face, it could very well be yours truly. Feel free to join me.