Saturday, February 18, 2017

Don't save the last dance for me!

I grew up in a context in which we listened to a lot of music.  At home, it was a whole bunch of classical stuff.  And devotional too.  Then there were film songs that we listened to--Tamil and Hindi.  And then the pop music from the West.  The high school years were musicals ;)

While the films had a whole bunch of song and dance, and we even did our versions of singing those songs, especially the glorious bathroom singing, dancing we did not do.  Yes, of course, there was that rich heritage of dancing, from the stories of Siva's cosmic dance to even the devadasi practice.   But, dance we did not.

In graduate school, when friends got together, for the first time I was in a room when people started dancing.  Even if they couldn't keep time with the music.

I neither drank nor danced.  Often people tried to get me to do both.  My personality has been the same throughout--nobody can make me do anything unless I wanted to.  The more they pressured, the more I wanted to say "get lost."  I usually sat listening to the music or talking with anybody who wanted to talk with me about whatever they wanted to talk about.

Even now, I don't understand why everybody thinks that everybody needs to dance.  Not everybody likes the movies that I like.  Not everybody likes the jokes that I like.  Why then should everybody think that I too need to dance?

I practically hate it when all those people say crap along the lines of "dance like there is nobody watching you."  Why don't they say "do math like nobody is watching you"? ;)  What is this obsession with dancing?

Why this strange post on dance you ask?  Because, for once, I came across an essay in which the author expresses similar sentiments:
Why do people get so angry that you won’t dance? There’s a desperation in their pleas — no, their commands — which says far more about them than it does about you. No one gets this het up about other activities. Imagine if you were round at someone’s for dinner and declined their offer of coffee after the meal. Should they start yelling, ‘Come on, you’ve got to have coffee!’ while forcing a cup to your lips, you would run from the house as fast as possible and never see them again. Yet bullying someone into having a dance is seen as normal.
Exactly.  As a coffee drinker, I love that situation he writes about ;)

Thankfully, I don't even socialize anymore.  No more being asked why I am not up and moving my ass (arse, for those preferring the bloody queen's English!).  If anybody does, I think I might just about go the essay author's route:
So what’s the solution? Could I take the dance Nazis to court? After all, the manhandling they subject you to would, in any other situation, count as assault. I might give it a go next time. ‘Get back on the floor, or I’m calling the law.’
Just beat it!


Ramesh said...

Its not just the dancing. Singing, telling a joke, whatever. Forcing somebody else to do something is simply a way of wanting to see them making an ass (that's when you use this spelling !!) of themselves.

Not sure what the pleasure is by getting somebody to do something they are not good at. I would have thought the opposite would be true. Like asking a good prof we know to quote Nabokov :)

Sriram Khé said...

Yes ... I suppose the compelling to dance is contextual, here in the West. And in India it might be something else--like the singing or whatever else. Whether it is a small group or a larger country, I don't understand why people cannot let the other person live a different life. (Once again, notice that I am being consistent with gimme liberty or gimme death!)

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