April 10, 2006

If you didn’t come to party…

Dance Music per se came comparatively late in my life. Dancing to music occurred to me a good deal sooner—apparently as soon as I could stand, I was holding the stereo with both hands and shaking that baby ass. The first music I reacted to was hip-hop, followed by synth-pop and clubby goth like Siouxsie and the Sisters. Going out, junior high school dances aside, I was never one to hug the wall, preferring to contort myself like “an angry lesbian,” as a friend once put it. While this description hopefully no longer applies, I still feel absolutely no shame or self-confidence issues when I go to out to dance.

Over the years I’ve come to realize that other people, shocking as it is, don’t feel the same way at all. Dancing comes naturally to me, something that I do because it feels absolutely amazing. Whether it’s, say, The Pixies or the latest micro-whatever single that’s playing is beside the point. Hey, it doesn’t even have to be that good—just loud (but not too loud) and have some decent bass. BUT NOT TOO LOUD! People, seriously, turn the bass the fuck down. It sounds better when it trickles down your back like a tongue than when it vibrates the floor like a passing dumptruck. Most songs mixed with a dancefloor in mind already have a clean, full bass sound anyway, so your knob-twiddling is unnecessary.

But, back to the point—most people don’t seem to have this willingness to shake it that to me is second nature. It’s hard work getting many to dance—understandable at a wedding but a little less comprehensible at a night of DANCE MUSIC spun by a DJ. So, what are you here for then?

Do you not like to dance?
Have you checked your pulse lately?

Are you afraid of what you look like when you dance?
Look at us. We look like morons. Ain’t no stopping us, now.

Did you come only to get fucked up?
Dancing increases your blood-flow. You will get more fucked up if you dance.

Did you come only to try and get laid?
Standing at the bar is far less sexy than losing your inhibitions. This I can guarantee.

I’m not suggesting that everyone needs to be on the floor if they’re at a club. We all need to take it easy once in a while, and sometimes it’s best just to sit and chill for a spell. That’s more room for me to engage in my half-baked jazz moves. But please, if you’re going to be answering your cellphone in the middle of a crowded dancefloor, take that shit elsewhere.

Ultimately, more so than concerns about appropriate behavior on the floor, it’s the fear of dancing that boggles my mind. Put it another way—if the superficial concerns of what you look like are keeping you from dancing, then it must be hard even to put on clothes and face the world. Do you think most people in a club environment are judging you on your dancing ability?

It’s much more likely, if they are stupid enough to go that route, they are disparaging how you look in general. In fact, they’re probably one of the onlookers like yourself. When one is dancing, you’re not paying much attention to the appearance and skills of others. Feeling the beat and moving in accordance are far more important.

In my time dancing and DJing in this country I have noticed a disturbing lack of response to a solid beat. If you’re only looking for what you know, then the creative void of radio should suit you just fine. If you can only dance when you are inebriated, then do us all a favor and get royally messed up. If you don’t dig on dancing at all, then please free up the space for the living, breathing, dancing, dreaming human beings out there. There are those of us who love to feel our bodies (and the bodies of others, natch) get pure, scandalous thrills off of drums, synths and heavy (but not too loud) bass.

Like Pharoahe Monche said, “if you holdin’ up the wall then you missin’ the point.”

[Mallory O’Donnell]


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