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I Do...Wanna Dance (with Somebody)

I went to a wedding this weekend. Correction: I was in a wedding this weekend. Obviously, not mine. It was my friend J's wedding. It was lovely.

I love my friend J and I was honored to be asked to be in her wedding. But, I was also dreading it a little bit because, frankly, I am not very good at having fun. If a wedding is a good one, the main goal is to have fun. I wasn't looking forward to that. My dress didn't really fit very well. The wedding was in Texas and so I had to fly a long way. I only knew a few people attending and so it would be a great deal of introducing myself, explaining who I am, detailing my history with the bride. I do not love doing any of that.

Mostly, I am not very good at having fun. My depression has prevented me from enjoying gatherings for a while now. Before that, my self-hate and introversion kept me from knowing how to have fun. I haven't danced in public since I was an undergraduate. I don't drink much anymore because of my powerful antidepressants. As previously established, I hate having to introduce myself to new people. Parties are not my forte.

Since I've known J, the bride, I have been a pretty un-fun person (with the exception of the night I hosted a dinner party at my own house and drank 1.5 liters of wine all by myself). She is a very fun person. She is often the life of the party. Her wedding reception was a lot of fun. Open bar, lots of dancing, funny toasts, the kinda families who boogie to every single song. I was anticipating this and when the dancing started, I removed myself from the ballroom and settled into a comfy chair in the lobby to play Covet Fashion (my new favorite iPhone game wherein you compete against others in "fashion challenges") and check my email. I happily slumped into the chair, played my game (I'm currently at level 12 and own a wardrobe worth almost $400,000.00), and smiled at all the other guests passing by me to pose for the photobooth (I did that while still a little drunk after getting off the bus from the church) or on their way to the bar.

I didn't have any intention of dancing. I had planned to eat a piece of cake, sit by myself in the lobby, look at my phone, and maybe eventually take a short nap in the private bridal "staging" room where we got ready earlier in the day. Instead, what happened was that the DJ played "I Wanna Dance with Somebody" and I had to dance. It was a biological imperative. I couldn't control it. I heard Whitney and I had to dance. So, I did.

I am a big white girl. I am not a good dancer. I am, let's be honest, a bad dancer. I didn't care about that, though, when I heard Whitney Houston. So, I danced. The next song was good, too, and I danced again. After that, I was pretty sweaty and exhausted so I took a break. While eating cake, a groomsman asked me to dance. Normally, my response to all dance requests is a kind but firm 'no, thank you.' I mean, as a high schooler, I accepted all invitations to dance (there weren't very many). And, at another wedding in which I was a bridesmaid, I was obligated to dance with the best man. I haven't danced with a man for about a decade. When this groomsman asked me to dance, even though I was eating my cake and minding my business, I agreed. And we danced. Later, the best man (who is a lovely person whose wife is also lovely) taught me how to two-step. This was Texas, afterall. I still don't really understand two-stepping but he was very patient about it.

I danced a few more times with my friends and finished eating my cake and drove home sober and happy.

All of this is to say that I'm beginning to understand that you're only bad at having fun when you're afraid to have fun. I've spent a large chunk of my life afraid of fun. Afraid that, instead of just having a great time, I would be judged. Afraid that, by behaving like a human, I would be exposing myself to ridicule.

If you're still with me, I'd like to share another quick story and then I'll wrap this up: When I was in the 7th grade, my friend C threw a boy/girl party and invited me. The night before the party, she and I had a sleepover at her house. Late into the night, we got punchy and decided to create a dance routine to "Girl You Know it's True" by Milli Vanilli. We planned to perform our dance at the party the next day (the Milli Vanilli scandal was still very fresh then). We thought it was gonna be so funny. When my mother came to pick me up after our sleepover, C mentioned the dance and asked me what I was going to wear to the party. Later, at home, my mother said, "Are you gonna embarrass me at this party tonight? What's this dance?" So, when I arrived at the party and C said, "Are you ready to dance?" I told her that I didn't think we should. She performed the dance anyway, and everyone loved it. I applauded for her with everyone else. I didn't dance with any boys that night. Obviously.

I'm reading Brene Brown's Rising Strong right now. The thesis of Brown's work is that there is no real connection without vulnerability. It's a concept I am working to accept and embrace. Maybe that's what was in my head when I heard the opening notes of "I Wanna Dance with Somebody". Maybe I just really love Whitney Houston. Whatever the reason, I'm so genuinely relieved that, at least in part, I let my fear of fun take a break for while.

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