I went dancing last night.
Well, that's giving myself too much credit. I went to a bar last night (intending to sit and talk and drink and not dance).
I owe my evening of dancing to a woman named Renee.
There was a live band playing and a few songs into their set, it happened.
That thing we loathe. That awkward, inevitable moment of a wedding reception that everyone hates: Renee stood up and started dancing. That alone is fine, because one person dancing alone is a freak, and we know what to do with freaks. We shun them, ostracise them, mock them, dehumanize then. It's a pretty simple social protocol. The thing we hate is the thing that happens next.
Next, she starts trying to get people to dance with her. This alone is not a problem, a freak trying to communicate with us is still a freak - the protocol stands. The thing we hate is that we know someone is going to take her up on her offer, and two people are not just freaks. Two people are a new community, and now we have to choose: are we a dancer or are we not? Do we join the dancer community or stay in the sitting-drinking-our-beer-disgusted-with-the-dancers community?
It's obnoxious and annoying - we're comfortable, nestled up to our pint of beer, and now this freak show has gotten up and ruined it all, illuminating us to ourselves, making it clear that we are a scared mammal just trying to avoid being made a fool in front of other members of our species.
I'm proud to say that I was the one that gave in. I was the jerk that legitimized her dancing. I just couldn't take it anymore, I could no longer be a coward, could no longer be the American woman secretly puppeted by her deep, nearly invisible now, but still very present, Puritan roots. I couldn't take it anymore, so I got up and danced, poorly, with Renee, in front of the whole bar.
The song ended, and I reclaimed by comfortable seat in the shadows, contented that I had lived out my values in some small way.
And, then, it happened - what always happens. The table next to us joined the community. They got up, danced one song, and then sat down. And now we've got a pattern - we've got two tables that have braved the wilderness, a dancer community 4 people strong, and now we're gonna flaunt it. So now we're harassing the next table, "It's your turn, get yourselves out there!". And they do - two amazing and friendly and light hearted 23 year old guys get out there and dance a hilarious, somewhat funky, ironic jig.
And now it's official, everything has changed. All of us in the dancer community are talking to each other and introducing ourselves. We're related, in communication, enjoying our new found belonging, our new social niche that we've carved out.
And now everyone is dancing, because now it's safe to dance. And soon, it's not safe not to dance. Now that there is a viable dancer community, who do you want to be, dancer or not dancer? Anyone with even the slightest impulse to dance is gonna get up and strut their stuff.
And then I get a dancing lesson, and it opens up my mind to a whole new way of being. I learn how to dance with a partner, which is like nothing else I've ever done - it's so much more joyful than writhing around all alone. I've got the bug, I want to do it more! My life is bigger and more full of love and more full of joy and I owe it all to Renee, because she was willing to be a freak. She became a freak in order to have a shot at building a community.