CFN – I don’t really watch music videos anymore, mostly because the majority seem to feature writhing, half-naked women. But I’m actually aware of and quite addicted to the video for Pharrell’s “Happy.”
What’s so great about it? It features a bunch of adults boogying, some with great rhythm and clever moves, and others… not so much: grandmas, college kids, park rangers, business owners, joggers, people just walking down the street.
I find so much joy in watching grownups dance. (If you want a truly comedic depiction of this phenomenon, watch Stephen Colbert dance to Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” with Matt Damon, Jeff Bridges and Bryan Cranston). It reminds me that adulthood isn’t all bills and child-rearing and colonoscopies. It can be fun.
In my fantasy life, I’m a dancer. And Johnny Castle (a.k.a. Patrick Swayze) is my teacher. Move over Jennifer Grey, I want to be the star of “Dirty Dancing.” But despite this daydream, I’ve done surprisingly little public tushy-shaking.
The first time, in fact, was at my wedding and I danced for four hours because I wanted to get my $500 worth. After my husband’s and my romantic first dance to a Dean Martin song, our band – a classic rock group – started playing ZZ Top and Rolling Stones. And I started to boogie. I’d never boogied in public before, but my husband and I cut a rug like the best of them in our fancy clothes, and soon, everyone was on the floor with us.
I danced with my new father-in-law, my old boss, an old friend. We all got closer to each other on that dance floor than we ever would under normal circumstances. People stuck out their arms and pointed their fingers, shimmying to the music, biting lower lips, demonstrating some pretty fancy foot work. People smiled and laughed and let the music dictate which arm or leg or hip to stick out next.
We all looked ridiculous, but it was the most fun I’ve ever had.
Dancing is an odd thing to do, really, and I swore I’d never do it in public. The act seems so private, something you do with a spatula in the kitchen while making dinner because your favorite tune just came on the radio, not in front of other people.
You’re vulnerable when you dance because chances are, you’re not very good. But you are taken by the music and the rhythm and the intangible joy that blossoms inside you and you can’t help it: the hands start clapping ,the head starts bobbing, and there you are, a grownup, dancing in his own kitchen.
It’s a release, an abandonment of the serious and those pesky inhibitions. Dancing is the ultimate expression of being in the moment, lost in the fun and recklessness and stupidity of it all. Adult concerns and responsibilities are gone and you’re a kid again.
Kids know how to have fun, much more expertly than adults. We don’t play with toys or pretend the carpet is lava, or paint with our fingers. We say things like “no horse play!” and “settle down!” Why? Why must we cease the horseplay?
Let’s play “Start it up” on the stereo, turn up the volume, and bite our lower lips and boogie, maybe not on a busy street, but in our living rooms or in cars (carefully) or the backyard. No rhythm required.
JH Mae is a feature journalist and short fiction writer based in rural northern New York.
She worked for five years at a local newspaper, followed by three years as a secretary.
She recently left the office life to pursue a full-time writing career and now works in her pajamas.