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The world needs more dance parties

By KATE SNYDER

Life with a Smile

There are thousands of coffee mugs, wall plaques and hooded sweatshirts on the market that urge you to “dance like no one is watching” — but when is the last time that you actually did?

For me, it was last Saturday night and I have the aching hip-flexors to prove it. Yes, they still hurt a week later. Look, I’m not 23 anymore, OK? A couple hours of shaking things that hadn’t been shaken in more than a few years takes its toll on you.

But it was totally worth it. As adults, I think we sometimes forget to have fun. The silly kind of uninhibited fun that makes you laugh hard and potentially throw your back out. Like a dance party to celebrate a friend’s 40th birthday.

It’s not that I never dance. The kids and I occasionally bust a move in the car, doing that super cool head-bopping thing while singing along with the radio. Or I’ll suddenly feel the need to waltz with my 6-year-old because I’m just so happy that I can still pick her up, and I recognize how fleeting those moments are.

That’s not quite the same thing as jumping around to ‘80s pop-rock at midnight, however.

Just the fact that I was conscious and socializing at midnight made the evening exceptional for me, although I was a bit leery of the party’s timeframe originally. It didn’t start until 8 p.m., which is apparently normal for grown-up activities, but I operate on parent time. I remember the days when a weekend night didn’t start until 9 or 10, but I was a lot younger then. These days, I’m often – usually – in yoga pants by 8.

In any case, there we were, dancing like teenagers in my friend’s living room. She had thoughtfully removed most of the furniture and we took full advantage. I have an OK sense of rhythm, but absolutely no idea what to do with it. Happily, no one else was really any better (or so I’m telling myself).

I love to dance. There is something so free about the experience. I was in high school at the height of the swing dance resurgence and my friends and I would dance in each other’s basements for hours. We got pretty good, too. Or at least we got pretty ambitious. I sprained a shoulder once getting tossed in the air and I definitely wore that as a badge of honor.

Then in college, there were dorm, frat and costume parties on the lawn. There was always music and people were always dancing. I had a friend that thrived on techno and I learned to love the pounding bass and digitized sounds that swept you up and matched your heart rate beat for beat. A friend and I also took ballroom dance class for credit one year. I can’t remember why — it certainly didn’t fulfill any graduation requirements for either of us, but man it was fun.

As you get older, though, the chances to dance become less frequent. Sure, there’s the occasional wedding reception or a charity fundraiser, but those often involve uncomfortable footwear or drunken strangers bumping into you. Getting the chance to dance like a fool in comfy shoes with only friends to witness the ridiculousness? That was truly a gift. And I wasn’t even the birthday girl.