Dance like no one’s watching. – Undetermined Wise Person
I was at a wedding recently. It was an extremely dull affair, no dancing, no nothing. My cousins and I got so bored, we escaped to find a room (next to the caterers no less) and decided to dance. Except, they were too shy, while I was off. One of them asked, “Where did you learn to belly dance?” I was so lost in it all that I didn’t even hesitate to answer truthfully, “Shakira, Shakira!”
I have never taken a lesson in dancing. I am a great hobbyist (or more accurately, try-everything-and-fail/give-up-more-gloriously-each-time hobbyist), but learning to dance has always been a passionate but taboo desire. My parents didn’t make me take classes either, which is strange considering every middle-class Bengali family makes their progeny learn to sing, dance, play instruments, paint, recite, karate, cricket, football, badminton, perhaps cross-stitch…, you get the idea. Not that I was personally against it, copying moves shown on TV since consciousness, but I guess they thought I was too shy for that sort of thing.
Only, I am not. Really. I am some version of awkward most of the time, but when it comes to dancing, I have no inhibitions. None whatsoever. Perhaps, because I never took any lessons, dance never became a performative thing for me. I’ve always seen it as performance, maybe envied those who have the skills and training to do it, but I can never do it with a straight face even when somebody is trying to teach me basic moves. I don’t dance like no one’s watching. I dance like I don’t care if anybody’s watching or not.
When I think of dancing, I think of fun. Someone once told me it is the second best thing you can do with your body, but anybody’s whose gone into the science of it all knows the two are correlated. That is why dance movies do so well, even if they often have poor scripts and acting performances. Because the idea of dance, when you’re watching someone else do it, is so addictive, you’re dancing on the inside, if not externally. In the Duran Duran video “The Reflex”, the audience is shown to comprise of thousands of teenage girls. In the middle of it all, the camera focuses on this lone, square man wearing beige clothes, dancing as though his life depended on it. Can you think of anything else that might cause something like that to happen?
I am partially glad I never took a class. I guess I’ll be an eternal student, but I am not a very good learner. Consistency is not part of my skills set, neither is tedium or an ability to take tough love. I fare better with flattery, but as much as I love the idea of a bubbly dance teacher coaxing me into learning the routine with her non-chemically-induced spirit, I’m sure my neurotic personality is bound to break her at some point.
Whereas I want some of her natural dopamine! I’ve been reading about various mood-enhancing chemicals recently (and how to induce their production naturally) and they keep concluding the same thing – Go to the Gym. Some of you might know how much I hate exercise, but I try to workout on most days. Today, I tried a 30-minute Latin dance workout from YouTube. It was perfect. The music wasn’t annoying, the instructor was the right kind of bubbly, the moves weren’t hard. In fact, it was so perfect, I was close to passing out (and vomiting at the same time) in 8 minutes. It was only a brief encounter resulting in buckets of dopamine, but I promised…we’ll meet again.
I still might take a class someday, but I really can’t decide on what style. My greed to learn them all will probably result in me learning none. Or I might just do my own thing and not care, like Phoebe from Friends taking a tap dance class:
I don’t know if I have any signature moves, though I’ve been told I jump a lot (which proves there’s some punk rock in me after all, with my penchant for pogo dancing). I think my usual moves are derived from Shakira, and if I had to pick a go-to track, I’d go with the classic, instantly infectious “Hips don’t Lie”. Mine, certainly, don’t.
Do you like to dance? What are your signature moves/favourite tunes/favourite movies? If you have a favourite dance video, share it below!