This past weekend was one of those special occasions where I was able to share one of my hidden passions with the world, DANCE! As anyone who has known me for any length of time will tell you, I’m not much of a dancer when it comes to my nine to five. While I am an accomplished master of song parody, I rarely cut rugs or beat up beats. There is but one thing that can bring forth Dancin’ Nate, and that is weddings. I even just coined a new phrase for how I feel about weddings: “If you’re gettin’ hitched, Nate’s inhibitions gettin’ ditched.” I too am confused about why I refer to myself in the third person, but Dancin’ Nate doesn’t need logic or sense, he needs beats… and a dance floor.
I grew up as a pretty shy kid, the kind of kid who went to middle school dances and hung out in the corner. I wasn’t a smooth dancer, I could read music but not really respond to it. I was fearful of public opinion, and that my lack of grace on the floor would bring about shame and tears. What I found out from standing in the corner though, was that shame and tears didn’t live on the dance floor, they congregated in the corner like me. I never had a good time just sitting on the sidelines, and so at one point, late in my public middle school career, I began my move towards dance.
I found that for the most part middle schoolers are terrible dancers in the first place. They have little idea what they’re doing and really just use the barest excuse possible to allow a school function to let them get close to someone of the opposite sex. While I might not have been good with the ladies in conversation, mostly due to my conversations tending towards topics like Star Wars, I could put on a fly silk shirt and move around on the dance floor. I smelled freedom on the dance floor, and the fragrance was “I Swear” by John Michael Montgomery.
That early breakthrough with getting myself out on the dance floor was what helped push me towards forcing myself out of my shy exterior shell and becoming someone capable of interacting with society in a way that was deemed both appropriate and acceptable. I found that it ultimately didn’t much matter what anyone thought of me as long as I was comfortable with who I was. And while I had a dry spell throughout high school and college in the dance department, the slew of weddings I attended post graduation brought about a new era.
After college, it seemed like nearly every friend I’d made decided it was a great time to get married. While at first I felt a little left behind as so many of my friends were moving on with their lives, I realized that I had a unique position as a single man at a wedding. I was held back by no “plus ones”. I was able to move out on the dance floor, fueled by open beer/wine bars, and make a statement to the single ladies on the floor: “Dancin’ Nate is here, and he likes to party!” A Shiner Bock here, a classy glass of merlot there, and BAM! somehow my jacket had a life of its own and I was jumping into the middle of rings of happy wedding guests to do ridiculous things out of pure joy and adrenaline.
Weddings have been my constant outlet for dance. They are a time of joy and excitement, love and celebration. If there’s a dance floor at the reception you’re supposed to enjoy it. I know I look like an idiot while I flail my arms and attempt hilarious complicated maneuvers, but I honestly don’t care. I want to celebrate my friends’ new life together, and I’ve never regretted a moment I’ve spent pouring my heart out on that hardwood floor. Don’t be like Shame Corner Nate, tapping your toe on the sidelines, get out there and find your own Dancin’ self, and beat up that beat!
*Note: All of this only applies if you are at a wedding not also frequented by the cast of a Step Up movie. If they are invited just toe tap, you can’t do what they do. I don’t think physics can do what they do. Just enjoy the show.