Let me tell you a little story about why you should shut up and dance.
I don’t like to dance. I feel fat and ungainly and uncoordinated. I get red-faced and sweaty and generally feel gross. Nothing I wear looks good on me when I’m standing still, let alone when I’m flailing around and showing off my lack of moves and rhythm.
Years ago I went to both of my proms, junior and senior. I didn’t dance much at my junior prom, because of the above reasons. I just sort of hovered at the tables and drank punch. My senior prom, well… that was with my first boyfriend and that’s a whole can of worms I’d rather not open right now.
So when I saw that Worldcon would have a geek prom, I decided I would go, and finally have a good prom where I had fun instead of teenaged drama. I even tried to find a “nerd date,” to no avail. Not wanting to go by myself, I almost chickened out when my last panel ended, but I swung by the ballrooom and poked my head in. People looked like they were having fun. I went up to my room and got changed into my fancier clothes.
When I got back down to the ballroom, I sat at the tables. And watched people dance. And felt stupid and awkward and lonely, because everyone was having fun and I was by myself. What was I even doing? If I was just going to sit, it was a waste of time. Then the DJ decided to play “Stayin’ Alive” and it was just too funny. I had to get up. It was scary. I felt stupid. I kind of hopped around on my own and felt even dumber. I found the spine to sidle up to a group of women and ask if I could join them. And we all danced.
You know what happened?
No one gave a shit. No one looked at me. No one cared that I’m ungainly and silly and was dripping sweat. We laughed, and smiled, and had fun.
You know what else happened?
I kept dancing, even when my group went away. I danced with complete strangers. I danced by myself. If I saw someone that looked lonely, I went and danced with them. We all had fun. We danced the Time Warp (again). I danced until I had to take off my shoes. I sweated through my jacket. I found a little dedicated group of three other people and we outlasted the DJ.
This is the lie we tell ourselves: we should be afraid of being silly and having fun because the next person who laughs will be laughing at us instead of with us.
It doesn’t matter. I’m telling you it doesn’t matter.
Dancing is about being alive, and joyful and human, and celebrating that fact. Dancing is not a zero-sum game or a contest. It’s like love. The more you give, the more you have. Being afraid of that is one more lie we swallow, one more way we try to trick ourselves into being less alive.
I think we should stop being afraid of other people and try to just be with them. No one’s watching. (Or if they are, fuck them, they’re joyless pricks and you don’t need their approval.) Enough excuses. Tell your insecurities and all the lies to shut up so you can dance.
Life is to short to deprive yourself of joy.