Dancing has never been my thing. I would have thought that was obvious to anyone who’s seen me on the dance floor. It’s why I try to avoid it at all costs.
Don’t get me wrong: it’s not movement, as such, that I object to. If someone goes to the trouble of choreographing a routine and shows me exactly what to do, and waits patiently until I master it, of sorts, it is acceptable. Where I become unglued is the casual, unexpected dancing opportunity fuelled by dressing up, alcohol consumption and a covers band. The type of situation for which there is no choreography, only freestyle. The very suggestion is enough to strike fear into my heart.
This is the unfortunate situation I recently found myself in. There I was, keeping myself to myself, feeling rather smug for managing to stay upright in heels all evening at a business awards dinner. (Not my business nor my award, but I digress). I had let my guard down. I was relaxed. I was possibly even having fun. Then, it happened. The band fired up and the first diehards approached the dance floor. No need to panic, I told myself. Just act natural and enjoy the music, I thought, allowing myself a discreet tap of the foot. Nobody will make you do anything you don’t want to do.
One by one my table companions drifted off to indulge in a boogie. Before long, it had happened: I was the table loser. Inexplicably, I hadn’t expected this and had no backup plan. What was I thinking? As I was busy berating myself, an acquaintance made his way towards me with the express intention of pulling me onto the dance floor, as all of my table companions looked on and laughed. All of a sudden I was 15 again. I panicked. Red alert! Red alert! There was nothing else for it: I had to go willingly, lest others were embarrassed by my refusal and I cemented my brief reputation as the table loser.
Once on the dance floor, surrounded by extroverts, I was alone in a sea of disco lights. I managed what I hoped was a carefree shuffle whilst simultaneously wishing the ground to swallow me up whole. Don’t panic! It’s only dancing! Get a grip! My table companions smiled. I grimaced.
Just when I thought the evening was irreparably harmed, salvation appeared in the form of two (clearly extrovert) women I had met earlier in the ladies’ toilets. They had been fairly drunk then, and were substantially more drunk now. Squealing with delight, these two angels pulled me over and instigated a can-can. I acquiesced. They were including me, rather than humiliating me. I could have kissed their shiny, drunk little faces. God bless them. And thus, the evening was saved.
If I have learned anything from this experience, it is never to attend a social function without an exit strategy. I’m talking code words, planned emergency responses to potential scenarios and above all, the befriending of sympathetic extroverts, drunk or otherwise. My prayer for us all is that we are protected from those who seek to embarrass us in public. Amen.