Sometimes I find myself at a standstill on the dance floor, I stop to watch the sea of bopping bodies in all their bright-eyed-shiny-browed glory, and I think, man you guys look ridiculous. I stand there swaying a little, not because the DJ is playing my jam but because if I’m on a dance floor then I’m not sober by any standard.
Dancing has never been something I’ve understood outside intoxication. I remember being at school discos as a gawky teenager sprouting breasts and putting my best efforts into boot scootin’ baby. But my coordination had never shown up when I tried to play sport, so I’m not sure why I thought it might come to the party in line dancing.
Now as a 29-year-old with ever increasing social anxieties, the thought of even tapping my foot without a drink in my hand makes me uncomfortable. And that’s why I was devastated to hear that No Lights No Lycra, a “casual free-form dance class in the dark, for the pure joy of dancing”, was an event that existed at a church hall near me. Because when I hear about something horrendously awkward that makes me want to kill myself, it’s a pretty good indication that nek minnit I’ll find myself engaging in it.
The dance class is promoted as “friendly, non-threatening and drug and alcohol free”, which usually suggests to me that something’s been designed for recovering addicts. I assume nothing run after 7pm that doesn’t serve over-priced cocktails will gain much cool cred. So I was totally expecting to rock up to Main Hall Newtown and be confronted with a big group of loser dweebs. Hence my surprise when I found the place brimming with a diverse mix of Sydney’s young and ‘cool’ population, predominantly groovy hipsters.
As we all waited in line for it to open, I stood a strategic distance from the group in front so it kind of looked like I came with them. Most people had come in groups and a significant amount of them talked really loudly to the new friend they had brought along about how “MUCH FUN IT WAS!” By the time they opened the doors there was probably more than 100 people lining up and one by one we shuffled in, paying our $7 before being thrust into the darkness.
I navigated my way to the back of the room by staying close to the wall and secured myself some dance real estate. The music kicked off and I watched as the movement of silhouetted sober ravers picked up. I didn’t have much else to do standing there in the dark, so I started to shake my hips a little, feeling nothing short of a wally. Think drunk thoughts, think drunk thoughts. As the rhythm and beat of the 90s pop song got progressively more fast-paced, I started to work harder on my jig. I added a couple of kicks here and there, a few shoulder wiggles, that sort of thing. And as the music got to the point of peak anticipation it was then that I heard the bass drop. And so did a lot of my inhibitions.
I literally just thought, fuck it, I’m here, no one can see me. And suddenly I broke into what can only be described as dancing. I listened to the rhythm of the music and I moved my body in time with it. That’s dancing, right?
And guess what, I liked it.
My awkward smile that no one could see turned into a big dopey grin that no one could see. And the limbs that I didn’t really know what to do with suddenly transformed into fucking epic jazz hands. I completely lost it, I was bouncing around like a pogo stick. Slut-dropping behind unknowing strangers and it was all just a big hoot.
After an hour of letting loose with a bunch of stone-cold sober hipsters, the doors opened again and we all poured out as fast as the light from outside poured in. And it was weird because everyone seemed to act like nothing had even happened. I felt like going around and high-fiving everyone. But they didn’t really seem interested. So I just sat down on the grass near the scary graves for a bit, and gave myself a good old pat on the back.
Who is the real lame ass?
“At the heart of No Lights No Lycra (NLNL) is the belief that everyone can dance. NLNL is a global dance community providing an inclusive and non-judgmental place for people to explore this notion. NLNL brings people together to experience freedom of self-expression and joy.”
I had read this earlier and just thought it was the biggest croc of shit. Not to mention an extraordinarily lame piece of prose. But now I totally get the premise. Everyone can dance because there aren’t actually any rules. A bunch of us just lack the confidence to get out there and do it. Probably because we’re not cool enough as sober people.