Dancing (or: "That One Time I Was A Flapper")

Again I apologize if there is still spam in my feed. I am in the process of getting it fixed...hold tight! (If you're getting this in your e-mail, unsubscribe at the bottom of the e-mail, then resubscribe via the box on my site. It's a new subscription service.) I've never been a dancer. Though it seemed every other girl in my elementary school was taking lessons and using their old costumes for halloween or dress-up, it just wasn't in my line of vision. Most girls I knew who took dance started when they were like 2 years old. I moved to Alabama when I was six, so needless to say I'd missed the boat on that. Before I even realized how much of a Thing it was, I'd already just kind of assumed and accepted that it wasn't my thing. No one ever told me I couldn't. If I had wanted to take dance lessons, I'm sure I could have. But I had never done it, and didn't really want to join in now. If you haven't picked up on this yet, new things aren't really my jam. Plus, starting at a young age I had a nonconformist streak in me, which is really just pride and made-up rules, I think. But that's a story for another day.

So I've always just thought I couldn't dance. Or, at least, didn't dance. My only exposure to it in my actual life was watching other girls back up against a guy and sort of bounce up and down ("grind," as the kids would say) to a Lil Jon song at school dances. And I wasn't about to do that. Besides, I'm not really sure if that can be considered dancing.

The only other experience I had was being bad at choreography. I once attended a Dance Team clinic in elementary school the high schoolers always put on in the summer for the kiddos. It wasn't really that I was worse than any of the other 8 year olds or whatever, but I could never remember what move came next. So I'd end up just half-copying the person in front of me the whole time. "Oh yeah, that. Oh, yeah...Right. That move. Crap. Okay. I'm behind."

I abandoned choreography until the 8th or 9th grade when I was in a community musical theater production of Bugsy Malone, Jr. and cast as a flapper dancer. Dancing was not part of the audition, that I remember, so they probably immediately regretted putting me in that role. But since I was not a lead, but I could sing decently, I got the second-tier part of a flapper. I had to buy character shoes and wear a leotard and everything. From what I can recall, I managed to pull it off okay, but remembering the moves plagued me still. I was terrified I'd just go blank and mess everyone up. I don't think I did, though. Because even though I don't remember most things, I would remember single-handedly bringing a play to a screeching halt.

The first time I enjoyed dancing was at a Christmas formal where I just went with some of my friends. Uncharacteristically, they played songs other than "Get Low" and "Family Tradition" so we actually got to try our hand at dancing. I remember actually enjoying myself dancing to "Footloose" and not caring if we were cool or not.

Since then, the only place I've experienced dancing is at weddings, really. For a while I just always had that feeling of "I don't know what to do with my hands" when I got out there. So I avoided it. That, combined with my paralyzing fear of what people think of me, made for a terrible situation to be in.

Gradually, partly because I've been learning how to not care so much about what others think, and partially just through practice, I have actually come to find dancing super fun.

I'm not good. Never hear me say I am a good dancer. I'm pretty sure I'm terrible. But there is something about dancing. Something about it is so good for my soul.

As a rule-follower, as a worrier, as a "what will people think"-er, there is something so freeing about dancing. Or for me, jumping up and down and around in circles to a Katy Perry song. For three minutes, it's like you're a kid again. I used to spin around and around in the kitchen I was small (kitchen floors are good for spins if you're wearing socks). I spun 'til I was dizzy. I don't know why, other than it was fun. I feel a little like that when I dance. It's even better when it's with some of your favorite people.

Last weekend I went to a wedding for one of my favorite people, and several of my favorite people were in attendance. It was so life-giving just to jump around and sing "Call Me Maybe" at the top of my lungs with my husband and people I love.

Some of my favorite moments in life are when I laugh, not because anything was particularly funny in a comedic sense, but just because I'm having so much fun. One of those moments was during Beyonce's broken down set at her concert while we all sang "Irreplacable." Another was dancing at this wedding.

Our community group recently read a book called The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown. I had never heard of her before that, but you probably have. In it she talks about the power of dancing. Physically moving your body and dancing around--how it can improve your mood. Lift your depression. Help you shake off the weights you have tethered to your feet. It totally works.

If you feel trapped, scared, emotionally drained...try dancing. Put on your favorite pop song and blare it in your house. Jump around 'til your cat thinks you've lost it (definitely not speaking from experience). You might just feel free for 3 minutes.

When do you dance? How does it make you feel?