Friday, June 19, 2009

When it Rains...Go Dancing

I used to be that girl who sat on the sidelines. At bars, weddings, parties, concerts—it didn’t matter—you were never going to catch me making a fool of myself dancing, no matter how many gin & tonics I had sipped.

Genetically speaking, there’s really no reason why I should feel comfortable cutting a rug. I don’t come from a long line of outrageously outgoing people. Nor can I find a whole lot of rhythm floating around the gene pool—musically gifted, yes, but there’s an important difference there. I enrolled in years of tap-dancing lessons as a small child. But even at age 6, the significance that I was the smallest girl in the class and I still ended up in the second row at recital time didn’t escape me. No matter, though. I loved the sound of my tiny little black shoes hitting the hard-wood floor, the pretty costumes, and the one night of the year we were allowed to wear makeup. The time we got to dance—and sing!—to Annie, dressed up as orphans on stage may have been the highlight of elementary school (I can see all women of my generation nodding their heads in unison and appreciation right now).

See, if I surrendered to DNA, I’d probably be clinically depressed and dead by age 40. And so, some time ago, I stopped paying attention to self-imposed inhibitions. Also, I seem to have acquired friends who simply don’t accept insecurity as a reason to say “no” to, um, anything. I learned the hard way that being dragged to the dance floor caused far more embarrassment than my lack of dancing skills ever could.

And thank god for that. Now, I dance. And I have long-since stopped caring what I look like when I do it. Lately, I’ve danced a lot. Because, as anybody east of the Mississippi can attest, it’s been raining for like two months. And I’ve officially been living in Saylorsburg, PA for a year now, which is approximately 365 days longer than I ever planned. And I still can’t run more than 20 minutes at a time. And I don’t know where I want to move or what to be when I grow up.

These are all valid reasons to board a flight to Vegas and meet 40 (yes, 4-0) friends for a completely ridiculous 48 hours of, well, ridiculousness. We all know the rule about Vegas, but I can divulge that for the first time in maybe forever, I left my running shoes at home. I, of course, packed my party clothes and dancing shoes. And they got quite a workout—still going strong even after being awake for more than 24 hours. It’s amazing what can happen to a gal fueled by a killer buffet. And, yes, a couple of gin & tonics, too.

A few days later, I went to Queens to celebrate Avi and Courtney’s newly minted marriage. Oh, yes, there was dancing there, too. And it was good.

Here’s the thing I’ve realized over the past couple of weeks: No matter what’s going on, it’s impossible to be mad, frustrated, or grumpy when you’ve gathered up a bunch of friends and are moving to the music, even if you have as few moves as I do. Dancing and smiling are inextricably linked. Try it without cracking a grin—I dare you. Music + movement =instant therapy…or at least temporary amnesia from whatever ails you. Also, have you ever seen what happens to a roomful of 30somethings when a DJ plays “Livin’ on a Prayer?” Mayhem.

So, at least until the sun finally shines again (literally…figuratively…), don’t be surprised if you see me cuing some music and flailing about my living room...or swaying while washing the dishes. I don’t need a trip to Vegas or a wedding anymore to get me going.

Gin & tonics, although always appreciated, are also not required.

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