Chasing Thirty: Dance Like Everyone Is Watching

Andrea is on a quest to check off a bucket list of items in her 29th year. You can read more about her adventures at her blog, Thirty-Things.

Some of the items on this list have required significant planning and resources to achieve: learning the tango, spending a month in a foreign country, etc. Even the fake bachelorette party took no small amount of coordinating, what with my friends’ perpetually busy schedules. As much as this list is a labor of love, at times between my writing projects and the work I do for actual money it feels well, laborious.

So when the opportunity arose to check a couple of items off of my list in a spontaneous fashion – as it did last Friday night – I knew I’d have to jump all over it.

I’ve been a bit of a dance geek these past few months. I spend so much time sitting in front of my computer composing blog posts, novels and cheery publicist-y emails that by the end of the day, if I don’t get out and do something physical, I’m in danger of forgetting that there is in fact, a body attached to that head that I spend all day in.

Last Friday night my pal Jim hosted a dance competition at his studio . I had actually put the event on my calendar months ago with the intention of participating in order to check number 7 off of my list but had sort of forgotten about it and once I was there nearly chickened out. Jim convinced me to do it, insinuating that it’d be low-key. Which it was, but the competition was stiff—some of the best dancers in Seattle were up there, including one of my instructors, Paula.

‘This is so fun! We’re competing together,’ Paula said. I nodded nervously; I wasn’t liking my chances.

So, no surprise, I didn’t win. But I also did not fall down or otherwise embarrass myself. And now that I’ve done it once, I feel like I can do it again, next time in a sparkly outfit with cutouts.

After the competition, my friends and I stayed and danced for a while at Belltown before heading over to our regular Friday haunt Salsa Con Todo in Freemont. I go there every week for their social; it starts off with a couple of hours of salsa and bachata music before becoming something completely different just after midnight. The lights go off and the music changes from latin rhythms to a mix of intense lyrical pop music. To this we do an ever-evolving, unnamed lyrical partner dance that mixes in elements of bachata, tango, zouk and whatever else people might bring to it. It’s uninhibited and expressive and it’s reliably the most fun I have all week. I go home on Fridays completely spent with aching feet and a more liberated spirit.

As we were packing up to go home around 2:30am, a couple of my friends mentioned that they were heading out to the Lenin statue on 36th street with their giant boom box to dance for a while longer. Why? Who cares why, this is not the sort of thing I would ever say no to.

It wasn’t until I was there, dancing bachata in my flip-flops in the warm almost-summer air that I realized that I was checking a second item off of my list: #8 start a dance party in the middle of the street. There were police cars parked nearby and the flashing lights added to the surrealism of the moment.

A girl with a falafel stumbled by and exclaimed to her friend ‘how is it all of these people just know the same dance?’ We had an uneven number of guys and girls, so my friend, John, taught an interested bystander a couple of basic moves and danced with her. Later on, we got cheeseburgers at the late night diner and I bet him five dollars he wouldn’t ask the waitress to dance, simply because I knew he would – and I wasn’t quite ready for the bad-dance-movie fun to stop. The waitress seemed completely charmed and she followed along well.

Who knew you could have this much fun at 4 AM without a drop of alcohol? The dance geeks, that’s who.

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    • Papa Geek

      The difference between the dance geeks and the drunks is that while both may be dancing wildly in front of a statue at 4 AM, only the dance geeks make it look good. ;)

      • andrea dunlop

        I must admit I’ve been in both camps on that one.

    • Zyanya

      I love nights like these and I love this article and I love your writing!