Wednesday, August 6, 2008

It's Enough to Make Me Wish I'd Been Forced into Dance Class

For a period in my teenage years I was the friend of a boy who was pretty fabulous at one thing: dancing. He didn't care what people thought about him, and he didn't care if he made an ass of himself. Those two things combined to make him a pretty decent dancer for a guy who didn't take class and preferred to just fool around with the form.

I took this boy to two of my high school dances. I took him for two reasons. First, I thought I was in love with him. Second, I wanted to watch him dance. At the second dance, my friends and I arranged it so we brought in a few of his friends, and the three of them worked on a dance number for weeks before. When one of them launched over the other's head during a high-flying move, it was made official: we had the awesomest dates ever.

They took some of their inspiration from Usher, and if there was anyone I loved more than the dancing boy at that point in my life, it was Usher. In fact, when I first saw the video for My Way, my jaw unlocked from my head and fell onto the floor in front of me. I wanted nothing more than to sit in a dark room and watch him do that dance--oh, that sequence at the end!--over and over and over. And the dancing boy I was toting around to my school dances? Well, he learned that dance. It was all pretty impressive. (I had a similar religious experience involving Usher in grad school. This was about the time that Yeah was on the radio every time you turned it on. One day I was over at the Wily Republican's, and my head nearly fell off my shoulders when he started doing a sequence from the middle of the video. I was grading essays, and he was supposed to be writing a paper, but he was doing what he always did when he was supposed to write a paper--avoiding it. And dancing. "ARE YOU DOING THE USHER DANCE?!" I said. I put down my pen and tried very hard not to hyperventilate. He stopped. "Yeah," he said, all nonchalant, like it was no big deal, no big thing. Well, you can bet I went home and recorded that in my diary.)

After high school, there was a long period where I didn't talk to that dancing boy anymore. He and I went our separate ways. We ran into each other four years later, a few months before I left for graduate school, and we realized it would be pretty silly not to spend the summer together. So that's exactly what we did. And there was an awful lot of dancing. We danced at bars and clubs. We occasionally drove over to Canada with some of our still underage friends and we drank watery rum and Cokes and danced ourselves stupid, tired, and parched.

It should be noted that I'm not a good dancer. I'm not even okay. I'm goofy and gangly and stiff. But when I was with that dancing boy, I was a better dancer. I cared less about what people thought about me and my proficiency. All that mattered was that he was spinning me, twirling me, lifting me. All that mattered was that our bodies were so close and the dance floor was so crowded and the air was so hot and the music was so loud that it we felt like we were part of something otherworldly.

When I miss that boy these days, it is only for that reason. He made it easy to dance. He made me love it in a way that's never quite left me.

Which is why I sort of freaked out over this summer's edition of So You Think You Can Dance. It was a show I'd never watched before. Amy and Becky were always telling me You'll love it! You need to watch it! It's better than American Idol! and I'd scoff and think, Better than American Idol? Please.

But let me tell you this--it's just as good and amazing and consuming as American Idol, and I couldn't be happier that the girls finally hounded me into watching it.

Every Wednesday I'd park myself in front of the television so full of giddiness that I couldn't contain it. I'd twitch and groove and wiggle all over the room on commercials. I'd throw down some of my best moves, suddenly inspired by what I was seeing on the television. And what was I seeing? Sheer brilliance, that's what.

I was in love with Will and Twitch. I wanted to be Chelsie. And Mark? Well, I felt like I'd known Mark in another life. The first time I saw him with curly hair I thought, "Oh my God. That's New Boy!" And I spent a considerable chunk of the season giggling whenever Mark came on the screen and did his thing because I was seeing New Boy doing it, and that seemed awfully funny. Mark looks a Hawaiian (possibly gay? I go back and forth on that issue...) version of New Boy, and I that's a lot of what motivated me to pick up the phone and vote for him week after week. But when it came down to the semifinals, I stopped voting for Mark. It was no longer enough that he amused me for resembling one of my grad school flings. Now I was voting for the best dancer, which meant I was voting for Joshua because he is fantastic:

(Now you can see why it's so often like a Bollywood number inside my head--becuse it's awesome.)

And--if that weren't enough--here's one more reason for me to love So You Think You Can Dance: it's really, really hot.

It's enough to make a girl wish her parents had been the cruel type--you know, the ones who would say, "You don't like going to dance class? Tough. Suck it up. You'll thank me some day!"

I sure might've.

1 comment:

Kristin said...

Dance class was torturous. Don't even wish you had gone. All it did was give me rhythm, which I probably had already. It gave me no moves.

It did give me an eating disorder for a while. Dance class is evil. Dance class is the devil.

You are better off doing your gangly-Jess-dance. I'm sorry that I haven't witnessed that yet:) YET.