I Wanna Be a Dancin’ Man

QUICK HIT: I should be digging back into my work deadlines, but I wanted to knock out a quick blogpost first. And then, instead of writing anything, I’ve been going down the Youtube rabbit hole for the last 45 minutes or so.

Most of what I’ve been watching is various dance-themed videos. Joseph Gordon-Levitt doing “Rhythm Nation” on Lip Sync Battle; Ms. Mojo’s list of the top 10 best-choreographed music videos; Shirley MacLaine explaining (and demonstrating!) different choreographic styles. And lots and lots and lots of Fosse.

It’s hard to explain exactly how much I love dance. More than that, it’s hard for me to understand why I love it so passionately.

After all, I’m not very good at it. Even beyond the issue of performing specific moves or sequences of moves in choreography, I’m generally a clumsy sort of person. The light years of distance between the dance I love to watch and the capacities of my own body keep me very much intimidated and stuck in inaction.

Dancing—loving dance, yearning to dance, being terrified of dancing—it’s one of the few places in my life where I still allow myself to be ruled by the “fantasy of being thin.” Once I’m thinner, I can dance. Once I’m prettier, I can dance. Once I finally get in better shape, I can dance.

Of course, the dirty little secret within this self-critical line of thinking is that the goal isn’t achievable. I will never be thin enough, pretty enough, in shape enough, for this internalized standard.

So I did a silly thing last week. I ordered a $12 disco light that was delivered yesterday.


My hope is that I can use it to help me capture some sense of whimsy and freedom. To create the sense of permission to put on some good music, get the lights flashing, and have an informal dance party in my living room.

Not that I need permission from anyone but myself. But that self-awarded permission is often the hardest for me to get.


Image credit: Photo taken by the author, subject to a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International license.

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