I've been dancing my whole life.
When I was an awkward 9 year-old, my dancing took the form of dramatic ballerina-like twirls around my pink-carpeted bedroom. I'd call my mom to watch from the doorway. I re-played Dirty Dancing and Girls Just Want to Have Fun like they contained the secrets of the universe, marveling at my heroes of movement, Patrick Swayze and Sarah Jessica Parker.
By junior high I had a tight circle of friends, bound together by our common interests of junk food, Saved by the Bell, and endless silliness. We danced on trampolines, beds, porches, basketball courts, basically anywhere we could find footing and an audience. Sometimes we video-taped our moves. Were we any good at it? Who cares?
In college I found another tight group of friends, this time bound by our love of Mr. Hanky, dining hall veggie burgers, and snowy goofiness. In the scores of sticky-floored venues across Burlington, we swirled in smoky bliss, relishing show after show: Rat Dog, Leftover Salmon, Israel Vibrations, Dark Star Orchestra, Pork Tornado, and of course, Ani Difranco all spring to mind. I'll never forget the feeling of stepping into the fresh night air, my body's internal heat a shield against the freezing dagger of Vermont wind.
Today my dance posse consists mainly of familiar yet name-less faces. On Sundays at noon, 30 or 40 of us pack into a mirrored studio and writhe, wiggle, gyrate, shake ourselves exhausted. We are bound by the common goal of burning calories, something I never ever thought about in all of my previous dance modes. But it's much more than that. Emboldened by our anonymity, we are fearless, a sisterhood (with the random male thrown in) of acceptance. Any faithful follower of Zumba will tell you that it's really about having a blast. I would laugh way more if I weren't struggling for breath.
For all of you who love cutting up the dance floor, go to You-tube and search for "Dancing at the Movies." Four minutes of fun. (I spent way too much time today trying unsuccessfully to post that video here. Sorry.)