At 6’4″ and 225 lbs. I am quite conspicuous on any dance floor, even more so back in the day when platform shoes were in-I had quite the collection! Should I mention I’m also white? From what I have observed on any weekend in Vegas that alone should keep me hidden in the corner while everyone else has fun. I can recall all the way back to my grade school days at Indianapolis Public School #90 that I was popular during any dance party simply because I wasn’t afraid to get out there and dance while my soul brothers were on the sidelines because they were too cool to groove. That changed when their girlfriends started dancing with the tall white dude.
But at some point along the way I became too concerned with what others thought of me getting jiggy with it, and stopped dancing. After all, I was an adult now and had an image to maintain, and I couldn’t do anything that might make me look foolish. I went from being the guy all the girls wanted to dance with to being the one everyone wondered about because I refused so many invites to dance. I was more concerned with what others thought than what I wanted and I let my response dictate my level of involvement. I really wanted to be out there having a blast with my friends, but I was paralyzed by intimidation that I created.
This blog isn’t really about dancing, and then again it is. The thing about dancing is that it requires total release of all inhibitions. You hear the beat, you respond to the music and you express unashamedly your joy in the moment. I visit lounges on the weekends just to watch people dance, and have made a few observations. One is that you can quickly and easily spot those who are intimidated and confined by their own fears. They are barely moving and there is no expression on their faces. It’s as if they are burdened with heavy chains that limit their movement and instead of freeing themselves, they merely keep their movements within the confines of their restraints. It’s not so much that they don’t know how to dance as it is that they are walled in by their own fears. And then there are those, usually much older, whose dancing is so liberated you can’t help but laugh at them. I am even guilty of at times making fun of them because their actions aren’t at all rhythmic or even closely synchronized with the music, but they are having the time of their lives. They feel no shame, no fear, no intimidation and no regrets. AND…they will dance to anything! It is strangely amusing to see some out-of-shape old guy busting a move and these beautiful young women compelled to join them-free dancing is contagious when enjoyed without restraints!
Life is a dance. Sometimes it calls for precision dancing like a couple on a ballroom floor; sometimes it’s a slow romantic sentimental affair that allows for being close to your dance partner. Sometimes it is downright funky and so compelling it takes more courage to refuse than to surrender. Whatever the case or style of music, it demands response. But many of us (I have been there) have become so burdened and downcast by the affairs of this life that we have lost our joy in dancing through life and find ourselves on the sidelines as lonely spectators. The response mechanisms and receptors in our individual lives have been deadened by challenges we may have survived but challenges that robbed us of all feeling and response. We become envious of those who we know who seem to dance through the fires with no fear while we are intimidated just by the heat of the flames. Unemployment, unrealized dreams, broken hearts, challenging illness, lonely nights-all thieves of joy; for each bit of happiness they steal they leave behind a chain that eventually hinders us like an old Dickens novel, rendering us immobile and apathetic.
A popular worship song in churches today is called Chain Breaker. The lyrics reflect much of what I am describing here;
“If you’ve been walking the same old road for miles and miles, if you’ve been hearing the same old voice tell the same old lies; if you’re trying to fill the same old holes inside, there’s a better life…”
Life surely rains on both the just and the unjust, the deserving and the least deserving. One of the greatest musicals of all time is Dancing in the Rain. The elements outside which we can’t control should not be allowed to dictate the desires inside that compel us to move freely without fear, without intimidation, with little regard to what others may think of us or our response-simply, to dance. We Should Be Dancing! We should be Getting Jiggy With it. We should be Dancing in the Dark; we should be Staying Alive we should all Get Down On It. And if we feel awkward, there is always the Humpty Hump, which can’t be done incorrectly. The point is just to dance, like no one is watching, like there is no tomorrow, like you are Travolta, the master of the floor. Again, this isn’t about dancing, or is it?