Learning to dance for the sake of sanity

by Valerie Lopez

Dance. . In the midst of all the alkane nomenclatures studied at 9:30 on a Saturday night, I began to zone out.. in room temperature, cyclohexane simultaneously undergoes varying conformations, given that the temperature provides enough energy to overcome the energy barrier.. What’s mildly depressing is not that I’m studying on a Saturday night (it is, after all, a unique ability either naturally studious Whitties possess, or frantic students catching up for school) but that these carbon cyclohexanes are getting more rotation action than I am. Therefore, after slipping into a funk of apathy towards chemistry, I resolved to brave the frigidity and walk across Ankeny (oh first years, you’ve got mad skills for surviving the walk home from the foam party) with the company of fabulous girlfriends to dance our blues away.

There’s something almost overwhelming when you catch yourself reflecting as you dance. It’s interesting when the dance floor no longer becomes this temporal escape from the reality of the world, but when it transmutes itself to a microcosm of how we express ourselves and how we relate to others in our interpersonal relationships in the real world. Dancing reveals how nurturing friendships can be, the precarious balance of compromise and power when you dance with a partner, and most importantly, how we connect with ourselves.

Exhibit A: Dancing with good friends will do you good.

In my personal experience, no matter how awkward, spastic, and downright idiotic you look dancing, it doesn’t matter at all when you’re in the company of good friends. There’s a comforting degree of approval and support, and yes, while they may encourage you to look like an idiot, it’s all good in the end. There seems to be an air of confidence and they provide that fuels the way you dance. Outside the context of the dance floor-slash-the-TKE-basement, good friendships allow you to be who you are, no pretenses involved. Therefore, because these relationships can be nurturing, you exude confidence no matter how spastic you actually are in real life (shout out to my good friend and dancing fiend, Sagen).

Exhibit B:  The way you dance with a partner can be indicative of how well you’ll get along with them in real life.

Ah, yes. We enter into the realm of guy-girl booty dancing.  Although this mode of dancing can get very crass to parties not involved (as in those of us not involved in the dancing orgy conglomerate during the BSU dance) dancing with a guy/girl is actually a very delicate social situation. Dancing with a partner becomes a series of negotiations and compromises resolved in a matter of picoseconds. A flick of the wrist can cascade into a simultaneous swagger of the hips. These series of compromises include the balance of power between the parties involved, how each person dances complementary to the other person, made more complicated by the rhythm of the music. Moreover, dancing becomes a test of social boundaries: the appropriate sites of groping, the expressions of intimacies, and of course the appropriate height for how low you can go. If by some extreme luck you find someone in the dance floor you dance well with, it’s almost a sure bet you will get along well enough with him/her in real life.

Exhibit C: Me, Myself and I: A Pas De Trois of Ecstasy.

It is of no coincidence that I evoke the same high-inducing quality of dancing to that of an actual drug. Unlike dancing with another person, dancing by yourself (and by that I mean no other person clinging onto you) is e-xxx-tremely liberating. There are no compromises to be made: you are literally marching to the beat of your own drum. And while not everyone utilizes this mode of self-expression, it is still a very good way to let emotions pulsate through your veins and direct the sway and movement of your body. Dancing is my high, my emotional band-aid. Doing it sober is even better, because you are acutely aware of differing sensations happening simultaneously: the distinct college beer smell, the thumps of the bass, the rhythm of the music…you get what I mean.

After a night of dancing, waking into the real world almost takes quite a bit of adjustment. It is a nice way to let loose and get away, but also still very interesting that we still operate under social forces, however blurred they are in the dance floor. You know you’ve had fun the night before when you find yourself a bit sore walking to brunch the next day. And people have come up to me and told me they’ve gotten danced out.

And me? Hells no. I’ve got too much canned heat in my heels, baby.

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