Tuesday, March 6, 2007

I Wanna Dance with Somebody...ANYBODY!

A party! A cyberspace party! People all over the world having fun visiting from blog to blog, making new friends, learning new things, awakening to new ideas, even winning prizes...who would have thunk it? Ah, the blessed internet! This invisible world linking us all. I was marveling this morning at the blessings the internet has brought into my life. I met a best friend on the internet. And if that can be topped, I met my husband on the internet! Maybe those stories on another day. For now, let me dwell on "letting loose". This IS a party, right?

It's sometimes hard for me to let loose. Maybe I'm just not yet comfortable in my skin, but I'm definitely riddled with insecurities and inhibitions. It's my least favorite thing about me, and the thing that people find most difficult to believe about me. Here comes a confession: I've never danced. Never. I WANT to dance, oh, how I want to dance! But I can't break free of the cement casing that binds fast my body. Growing up LDS, I attended every Stake dance. Every single one. I was fairly pretty and popular enough with the guys. I don't think I ever sat a slow dance out. But when the beat would accelerate, and I would feel that rush of blood and adrenaline course through me, somehow the excitement would come to a dead halt somewhere between my head and my feet. I just couldn't do it. I have a natural sense of rhythm, that isn't it. It was more, "what if I look dumb?" I would watch the other kids on the dance floor and envy their sense of abandon and fun. I would carefully watch the moves their bodies did and try to memorize them. I can remember vividly trying to will up the courage, and battling between this intense desire to just go have some fun and let loose, and the defeating voice in my head reminding me that probably everyone will notice my inept sense of dance style and will stop and stare....and think less of me. One of my very favorite songs of that era, ironically, was Whitney Houston's "I Wanna Dance With Somebody", and every time it would play I would think, "okay, okay, I'm gonna do it this time. Okay, next phrase. In just a second. Well, the song's almost over now. Next song." But I never did. Years went by like this. Years are STILL going by like this. It makes me mad! Sure, there have been occasions when I've been pulled out there by a frustrated and well-meaning friend and I've done some stupid two-step to the beat just to appease. The whole time I'm running this tape in my mind that says something like, "Move your arms, dummy! Yeah, like that. No, that's dumb. Try this. Too forced." Dying for the song to end. Faking a good time. Just enough to keep suspicions low. Many times I went home from those dances and cried in my room, or blasted some Debbie Gibson and tried to let loose privately. Even THAT couldn't happen.

My daughters are great dancers. Carefree and spontaneous. My oldest daughter, who's almost 13, has taken 6 years of dance instruction in tap, ballet, jazz, and Highland. She has the guts and the self-confidence that I admire so much. I've tried really, really hard to instill that in her. When she would perform in her dance recitals each summer, I would be the mom in the audience crying. Yeah, I was proud of her and had all those mom thoughts of "look how beautiful she is", and "look how my little girl is growing up", but my tears flowed from a much, much deeper well. Those tears were because I wanted to dance. I watched those girls dancing, and any other dancers dance, and I have had this distinct impression that I CAN do that. That I AM a dancer, and I just haven't learned how. I haven't remembered that talent, given to me long before I came to this earth. I have even watched prima ballerinas, and the absolutely infectious Riverdance dance troupe and thought that somehow I belong to those groups. I'm one of them, but nobody knows it. I have this uncanny feeling from the deepest part of my soul that I miss dancing, though I don't know where that would come from.

Just the other day, I popped in a favorite CD of really fun, let-loose music. I tried a few moves, but it was a complete joke. I can't even take it seriously, I'm so afraid of rejection, so I have these ridiculous cop-out dance moves. I even went to the Ellen DeGeneres show and let me tell you how I sweated that one out. She dances! She expects the audience to, also! So, to cover my shame, I worked it with these completely embarrassing, silly, goof-ball, borderline retarded dance moves that I mortify my children with, and don't you know, I was pulled down on stage to dance for the entire studio audience and given an "I Danced With Ellen" T-shirt. What a joke. Everyone else REALLY danced. I was so jealous! All I did was make a fool of myself to AVOID making a fool of myself.

Every now and then I feel those moves trying to bust their way out, but I always stop them. I don't even mean to. My husband caught me in that snare the other day, and he just came over and held me and quietly laughed. "You poor thing," he said. "I saw you almost break free and then you shut it down. You poor, poor girl." He's such a good dancer. Totally uninhibited.

My goal is to dance. Just once I want to break free and feel it flow from my head, through my heart, and fly out through my arms and hands and fingers, and legs and feet and toes, and everything in between. I want to laugh with unabashed joy and freedom and surrender, and I want to sweat and get tired, and keep on dancing. A party is a real good place to start.


My Trendy Tykes said...

Ok, Now I am going to have "I wanna dance with somebody" in my head! lol

Welcome to the party!


Unknown said...

Oh that is sooo funny about the Ellen show and dancing! I think I am just like you. I have no rhythm and probably look like a fool to other people but what mattters most is, that you had FUN doing it! How many can say they danced with Ellen?! That's awesome!

Keep having fun at the party!!

Jennifer said...

From one of your oldest friends, I am definitely in support of your goal of dancing. You can do it, Jenna! I think that if you were to break free, I would feel a sense of relief after all those years as well. Just play the most infectious music you love, lock the door, cover the mirrors, and tell yourself you're not allowed to move. Just sit there. Maybe the reverse psychology will eventually force the real moves out of you! BTW, I seem to recall one of those many stake dances that was a 50's sock hop theme and we both "danced" our socks off running all around the gym. See, you CAN do it! :)

Luisa Perkins said...

Gurrrrrrl, next time I see you, we are going to put you through some intensive boogie therapy. I'll make a bargain with you: I'll do karaoke if you dance. Deal?

Abby said...

One, that Whitney Houston song song will forever remind me of you. Every single time I hear it, I see you in your old purple striped workout leotard thing. It makes me smile, ya know.
Two, I hate admitting this to you especially..but I have that same problem..unless there's alcohol around and then it's like..look out! Then I break free and I *dance*. Apparently I'm not so bad either. In my head I knew I wouldn't be..just like you know.
Lock the door to your bedroom..put on music..and just let it out. It feels *so* much better..especially when you know there's no way anyone else can see you and make you feel silly about it.

Love you!

Susanne said...

Popping in from the blog party to say Hi. I say, go for it, just turn up the music, close your curtains if it makes you feel better and just do it, dance away!

Anonymous said...

It must be hereditary, Jen and Abby. I'm the same way, except I can dance alone, just not in front of anyone. Have tried, have been laughed at, have stopped. I know, that's not very encouraging, is it? When I lived in Mesa and attended that Artist's Way group, there was always dance and singing (solo) as part of the exercises we did to burst through our creative blocks. One night I finally stood in front of the group and sang "Dream a Little Dream of Me" and felt pretty good about it, but I was never able to go into the circle and dance alone with the abandon of the others, and there were some tearful nights. Your grandmother was a FANTASTIC dancer -- imagine that! -- back in the 1940's, so you've got good genes somewhere in there, though.

I dance spiritually, the same way I play softball and most other physical-skill-coordination things. But you're still young and supple. Break through that block and enjoy, woman!

ps -- hey, Jennifer, we're about to be neighbors! Sort of!

Adam Consolo said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

I'm so proud of you! You danced with Ellen, and you have the t-shirt to prove it.
Have fun dancing; do it as if no one was watching. I'm sure you're better than 'Elaine' from 'Seinfeld', right? :)
Rock on, baby.

Kirsten XO

Erica Hanks said...

*visiting from Lori's blog!*

A couple of months ago, my husband and I realized that it had been FOREVER since we had had a date. Seeing as my teenager already had plans for the evening, I decided to pick up take out from our favorite place and having a "romantic" date at home. This meant that our 6 year old son would be joining us on our "date". As we were eating, my son turned to my husband and stated, "Dad, when's the dancing? Dates are for dancing!" So, we put on an oldies station and boogied in the kitchen. The song "Wildfire" came on, and when we told Kayden it was about a horse, we all started galloping around the kitchen island doing the horse dance! I'm sure we looked insane, but it was Good Times! Go Ahead...dance like a loon!