I Could Have Danced All Night

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The main reason why I’ve never been to a dance before was that the private school I went to probably believed dances were the Devil’s work. A small, small, tiny, miniscule school that basically housed its operations in an old house, the headmaster and his wife were evangelical Christians, though not horribly stereotypical; which means that could make jokes once in a while. But because it had about 54 students from kindergarten to eighth grade, we didn’t have enough people anyways to have a dance. The entire student body could comfortably stand in one hallway, the “upperclassmen” on the stairs and the lowerclassmen on the side. We gathered every Tuesday morning for the opening, where we would say the Pledge of Allegiance, sing a couple patriotic songs, and then the headmaster, a brilliant man named Mr. Thorpe, would read some sort of fable or parable. Quite often Christian these were full of Christian values. So plentiful as if they bought them at some “Christian value Store”. The school was a God send academically, and I truly enjoyed my time there. It was, however, no God send socially. They were far too trapped in the past. You know, like the 1800’s. If we had had a dance, it would be a very boring affair. The music would probably be waltzed by Straus or “old” music I don’t even listen to. Like the hymns and spirituals from the Civil War.
The transition to public school was a bit tumultuous. Big classrooms! Strange people! Bipolar biology teachers! (Well, there was only one of those.) It was all very overwhelming, but it wasn’t until my sophomore year that I would attend my first dance. The school had planned a Winter Ball, a winter extravaganza that fell through when no one, except for perhaps three people, bought tickets. There were a few parent association dances held, which I never went to. And then one of my best friends, Christine, invited me to a dance at her church in my sophomore year.
Platonic though it was, the idea of a dance had always conjured up ideas of romance and the perfect kiss and Cinderella and losing shoes and foot fetishes and stalkers. Christine had invited another friend of hers, a new junior named Ian, but he was running late. When we arrived at her Mormon church, we were treated to a serious of awkward runnings about; I became her dog or ragdoll being pulled every which way, as if preparing myself to do some acrobatic stunts. Games were being played amongst the 200 or so attendants. We did not participate in them, but mingled with others. It was mildly awkward, as I was not sure at all what to expect. She was a little bit flustered; for this was the first time she would see her ex-boyfriend. But, all was well, as after an hour or so, we were shepherded into a large room and listened to two people talk for two days…I mean hours. It was kind of interesting, but nothing I would terribly want to bore my audience with right now.
After Ian had arrived, we had dinner, and I had a very Oliver Twist-esque moment. Wakling down the line, there was a kind of taco bar and one of the items was shredded chicken in a vat of hot sauce or blood or something. The server smiled and placed it upon my tortilla and it seemed to me a tad bit small, and in a second of doubt and stupidity, I asked for more. The moment the words came out of my mouth, I felt terrible. He smiled and politely said that if there was more later I could have some. I apologized profusely. I looked around the huge basketball court/auditorium and saw hordes and hordes of Mormons, like some sort of army of polygamists being fed, ready to fight after the large feast. I felt so incredibly stupid. I hung my head in shame and finished going down the line and returned to my seat.
It’s a little odd that they were serving such messy food when everyone was decked out in dress clothes, suits, dresses, coifed hairdos, and nice shirts. What were the odds of someone getting rice or refried beans smeared on their tie? I could picture it vividly, some guy dancing with a girl with a brown smudge on his tie that was drying steadily and a red stain on her shoulder that looked like she killed someone and forgot to clean herself off. It was horrifying to think of.
After the dinner, we had one more person to pretend to listen to. I imagine there were a few serious people, but I also imagine that a lot of eyes were glazed over like donuts. Though, I would say that this man, who looked like a good 55. He spoke with passion and he never stuttered. It never sounded over prepared. It sounded like Obama should sound like, if he were Mormon.
After a seriously interesting lecture, the 200 or so of us shimmied ourselves to the dance floor. I was severely interested and intrigued about the song selection. These were people who are famous for being rather…strict and austere, though not as bad as the Amish. I was expecting music that was either the Mormon Tabernacle Choir or Frank Sinatra. I was utterly shocked when the music of Ke$ha, Justin Bieber, and Lady Gaga poured from the enormous speakers on the stage. My thoughts were, “They’re allowed to listen to this?” I could have sworn I saw an elder having a seizure when he heard the lyrics “brush my teeth with a bottle of Jack”….
After a few songs that were loud and rowdy, the first slow song came on, which was Avril Lavigne’s “Keep Holding On”. It was so daunting, a slow dance. I was hoping that my first slow dance would be incredibly romantic and then after the dance, we’d run off to Vegas and elope or go broke. What a dream! But even so, my first slow dance was very nice. Very awkward, actually, considering I had no idea what to do. Once again, I was her rag doll, where she had to position me and take my arms and put them in so and so position. I kept getting it wrong and I was about to fall over in protest, but I was able to eventually slow dance with her, albeit awkwardly, for a few moments before the song stopped.
I suppose the most awkward thing, besides being Christine and Ian’s rag doll throughout the evening, was dancing with other people. With Christine, it was fine, because I knew her very well and it was platonic and yada, yada, yada. But with other people, it was new and really weird. I danced with two people of my own volition and it was very nice. Again, very strange for me, but it was interesting. I tried making conversation, but that was admittedly very hard over the loud music. The highlight of the evening was having someone ask me to dance. I was shocked that someone would do that, either out of interested or pity.
The overall experience of my first dance was quite amusing. It was scary, sure, but it was a lot of fun, nothing that I really had to fear. If I go back, I want to be able to really dance. Let me tango with someone to my favorite song, “Sway” by Michael Buble. That would be a dream. In the meantime, this was a fun and exciting night.





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