I started dancing in my early 20s, about the time my peers were pairing off into their chosen careers. While my 20-something peers didn’t condone dancing, I grew up in a town where football was king, and pick-up trucks pulling donuts in the High School parking lot was considered an excellent form of after school entertainment. To say that a man dancing was socially unacceptable is to mistakenly called getting covered in rotten eggs (which also happened) a slightly uncomfortable experience.
But my humiliation around dance didn’t stop with the lack of my peers’ judgement. I’m pretty sure I was my own worst critic in my first ballet class, surround by beautiful, experienced ballet women, wearing corduroy and completely unaware of the french techniques being described. Somehow I survived my childhood, and my college ballet class mortification and have only danced more every week in the ten years since.
I share these early experiences so that you, the reader, might understand that you don’t have to be born in a culture that accepts dancing, to be able to dance. I hear regularly, when asked what I do, some version of admiration followed by self-denial. “That’s great that you dance so much. I couldn’t ever, I have two left feet.” This is my manifesto and the message is simple: you, too, can dance. And you probably should.
Doubters, read this first:
The way I learned to dance need not be the way you go about beginning. I don’t recommend getting egged, or doing ballet wearing corduroy. Instead, start simpler.
Congratulations, you just danced.
I am organizing Design for Dance, a conference put by Stanford University’s BJ Fogg and the Persuasive Technology Lab. If you are interested, sign up for my mailing list and I’ll keep you apprised of the details!