#ColgateProblems: So You Think You Can’t Dance?

Amy Balmuth

I would say my formal dancing career peaked when I was 10 years old and my mom signed me up for a Bollywood dance class. Why any mother in her right mind would send a chubby pre-teen who literally couldn’t walk in a straight line without bumping into some protruding object to an ethnic dance class is hard to understand. But, in the grand scheme of things, it probably helped me figure out the Indian silver screen was not my calling. Seriously, I hated every minute of this class. For not only was I the only non-Indian person in the class, I was also the only person under 20. But even at my worst of times, I try to at least be a good daughter. So I squeezed myself into a shiny, bedazzled turquoise sari and put on a brave face because after all: the show must go on.

Sometimes I think those times are behind me, that my awkward dancing melted away with my puppy fat and Abercrombie tank tops. But then, I catch my unseemly reflection in a frat window or find myself pop-and-locking in the back of a snap story and realize that the more things change, the more I stay the same. One might wonder how such an accomplished Cha-Cha-slider can say these things. But the journey from blissful bar mitzvah hava nagilas to downright tropical frat basements has been one full of ups and downs.

Dancing is an inevitable reality of college, along with underage drinking and communal showers. There is no “College Dancing 101” course that my mother can sign me up for that focuses on how to not spill your solo cup whilst also getting your groove on. Despite my distaste for organized dance, I would be first on the waiting list. I would show up to office hours. I just have so many questions: what do you do with your arms? At what point in the night is it acceptable to do the running man? What is “twerking”? If I fall off an elevated surface but the pumping bass of “We Found Love” is too loud, does it even make a sound?

This is not a conclusion that doles out Britney Spears circa 2001-worthy choreography because after all, a good magician never tells her tricks. I do not pretend to have the answers to these questions. Just like a first-year boy in the Jug, I am groping around in the dark for something – anything. In this case, my personal goal is a style of dance that will make me look more like a Step Up sequel and less like an inflatable flailing tube man outside a car wash. 

This, however, does not stop me and neither should it you, dear readers. Dancing is not just a series of movements that match the speed and rhythm of a piece of music. At the risk of sounding cliché, dancing is something you feel in your heart (but also in your quads the next morning). Most of all, dancing should be fun. You do not have to be well versed in “Gangnam Style” or fueled by Keystone Light to have a good time dancing, you just need a smile on your face and the lyrics to “All The Small Things” in your heart. There is a little bit (or for some, a lot) of middle school awkwardness in all of us; if this is the problem, letting it all out and gettin’ down to “My Humps” may be the solution.