A friend of mine came to Salt Lake from out of town for the holidays, and she invited me to go out dancing with her and some other friends. The plan was to go out to a couple of different danced – one starting at ten o’clock, and the other at two A.M. Now, I recognize that New Years only comes around once a year, and that it tends to be a time when people cut loose and party irresponsibly for one wild night, but I’m nothing if not a timid ball of insecurity, so I said no.
Back when I was in high school, I went to dances almost monthly, usually after my friends would show up at my doorstep with a tie and demand I accompany them. I was always too self-conscious to really cut loose and enjoy myself, unless there was a girl I crushed on present, in which case I got too nauseated instead. The one time I managed to work up the nerve to actually dance, I got laughed at. So, yeah, no dancing for me.
I tell you this so that you appreciate how unusual it was for me, after already declining the invitation, to show up anyway.
When the music started, I resolved to just cut loose, and to Hades with whatever shred of dignity I thought I was holding on to. So there I was, dancing like a… well, like a lanky, thirty-something white guy. But when your a lanky, thirty-something white guy, one who’s accustomed to spending New Years Eve alone, you realize your dignity hasn’t helped you have one iota of fun, so it can’t really be worth all that much, can it.
As it turns out, ten years of dancing to Usher in the car actually does a bit for one’s dance floor confidence. There I was, elbows out, step-touch-step-touching like a wannabe Fred Astaire to “Turn Down for What,” and, surprisingly, loving every second of it.
The closer we got to midnight, the more crowded the dance floor got, until the point where there was literally nowhere for any of us to move except straight up. “Dancing” turned into “hopping up and down in one place.” Still, with that many people around, the energy in the room was contagious, and we greeted midnight with a lot of screaming.
And lots of selfies. Screaming and selfies.
From there, it was off to the after party. The second dance we attended was a Latin dance. Now, I don’t know much about Latin dancing at all, and the shouted instructions didn’t do me a whole lot of good. I’ve recently managed to pick up a little bit of Spanish using the Duolingo app, but at the moment my conversational Spanish is pretty much limited to “Tenemos un pingüino,” a phrase which does not come up in dancing as much as you’d think.
Latin dancing seems to involve mostly walking in place for about forty minutes while still managing to look slick and classy. I can walk pretty well, but classy’s still a bit out of my reach. Especially when we’re now coming up on about 4:00 in the morning. By that point, both my dance partners and I weren’t really too keen on the “having fun” part of the festivities. We were more focused on the “Gotta keep moving before I fall asleep on the dance floor” part.
I made it home somewhere around 5:00, sweaty, sore, and somehow completely satisfied with my adventure. As I slid into bed, I found myself thinking that 2015 ended on quite the high note, one that had completely worn me out. I was ready to get a nice, deep sleep, preparatory to starting off 2016 fresh.
Of course, that’s the moment my cat chose to jump on my chest.