Editor’s Column: Stay Young, Go Dancing

It was at some point during a bout of excessive amounts of jumping and screaming, “There’s no place I’d rather be,” at the top of my lungs at the Jug in a group full of people dressed in penguin suits that I realized: I love dancing. Though this may seem like a pretty strange time to have figured this out, I just couldn’t ignore the sheer amount of fun I was having. And I’m not talking about grinding (though is that dancing, really?) or being part of an organized dance club. I’m talking about free-style, ad-lib shaking it off to whatever music gets you on your feet. And even though this may be one of the least stereotypically-masculine things I have written in this paper, I’m not afraid to admit it. In fact, I think it’s time for guys everywhere to throw off our chains of gender-based expectations and learn to dance the night away just for the hell of it.

But what led up to this realization? It didn’t just come out of nowhere. Looking back, I think it started during my study abroad experience in Uganda. Ugandans like to dance. A lot. Whenever there is pop music playing, wherever it may be (bar, storefront, family dinner, etc.), you’ll find people dancing. Foreigners are almost always scared to join this dancing culture. Here in the United States, people tend to be very self-conscious about how they look when they dance and often actively avoid situations where they’re going to be pressured into it. But after a while it became impossible to avoid, and my muzungu (white) friends and I were inevitably guilted into participating. At first, it’s pretty intimidating. Ugandans, almost as a rule, are fantastic at dancing, and I had no idea what I was doing. Despite this, I soon found that Ugandans are perhaps the least judgmental people when it comes to dancing ability. Maybe it’s just because they have low expectations for what American guys are capable of, but I never once felt that I was being judged for my (lack of) ability.  Once I decided to relax, dancing became a ton of fun. Some of my best memories include participating in random dance circles in Ugandan bars where nobody cared how awkward my moves were. 

After coming back to Colgate, I couldn’t help but compare dancing culture in Africa to what we have here. The biggest difference is that here, guys don’t like dancing just for the hell of it. For some reason, dancing has become associated with femininity in contemporary American culture. To be fair, it doesn’t help that phrases like “When we go out tonight, I just want to dance” have been associated with college-aged females everywhere. But I think that this deprives guys of a lot of fun that we could be having. Dancing is an expression of celebration and love of music. It doesn’t have to be skillful or even in time. It’s one of those activities that can be fun just for the sake of doing it. Maybe it took me until I was jumping around in a mosh pit full of penguins to realize it, but dancing is great and guys need to learn to take back the dance floor.