I like to dance. It’s basically the only exercise I get, and I get to meet all sorts of interesting people outside of MIT. Don’t get me wrong, I realize that there are plenty of opportunities around campus to mingle, but coordinated shouting at movie screens can only get you so acquainted with the people around you. I don’t even care all that much about what kind of dancing I’m doing — club dancing, ballroom dancing, I’ll even Michael Jackson dance if the opportunity arises, objections from bystanders notwithstanding. After the past three weeks, though, given that I can count the muscles in my legs and feet based on the individual types of soreness they’re experiencing, it’s become apparent that such a thing as too much dancing does exist.
I’ve been to three dances around the Boston-Cambridge area in the past three weeks, and walked to most of them, which didn’t help me any. The first was a masquerade at Harvard as part of their annual science-fiction/fantasy/gamer convention. Don’t look at me like I’m weird — Harvard’s not that bad. Boogying to electronic remixes of video game music is surprisingly fun, once you get past the self–inflicted pop quiz of which game the song comes from.
It’s refreshing to dance in a grind–free setting (not that there’s anything wrong with that), as someone for whom pelvic thrusting isn’t a big part of my dance vocabulary. On the other hand, considering how much Rock Band I saw that weekend, I sort of expected more rhythm and less frenetic, arbitrary tiptoeing. I will say this much for dances at conventions, though: being able to try out new moves around people that won’t judge and will gladly match your occasionally misplaced enthusiasm is refreshing. The walk to Harvard Square is not a short one, though, at least not for someone whose idea of a brisk pace is still slower than a molasses sculpture of a slug being pulled across the Antarctic landscape by a team of glaciers.
Fast forward to the following week, when I spent a couple hours at the Boston University Dance Marathon. Similar-sized crowd, but with completely different music. I think that it says a lot about our collective nostalgia as a generation when the theme music to The Fresh Prince of Bel–Air has achieved memetic status for longer than the show was running. I heard only a limited part of the event’s full playlist, but the songs I managed to stick around for were at least all danceable, and the floor was excellent for moonwalking.
Typically, the one mile walk from the venue to my dorm at night’s end would not have been that bad, had I not forgotten my MIT ID after I’d gotten home and turned a one mile walk into a three mile walk. Mind you, this is on the same weekend that perhaps the biggest gaming convention in the country came to town at the Hynes Convention Center. No points for guessing where I was walking to, around, and from all day, although honestly, I suppose I don’t really have any right to complain next to the people who spent the full 18 hour dance marathon on their feet. Even so, for those of who keeping score at home, it’s currently asphalt: 2, soles: zero.
Of course, the coup de grace came just last week, at positively huge anime convention that seemed to draw more attention than a Charizard card in a third-grade classroom. The costume ball at Anime Boston was probably the closest I’ve ever been to being in a Disney movie (referring to the animated canon, of course, not the Disney Channel live action TV features) without a lovable animal sidekick. Formalwear-only? Check. 100 percent ballroom music? Yep. A spontaneously encountered partner with a good sense of rhythm and the ability to follow a lead? You’d better believe it, although I don’t recall Cinderella preparing for her ball the way my partner did — spending the day dressed as a Naruto character. Then again, given that I was basically wearing my comic–book character Halloween costume, I think the Disney metaphor has gone beyond broken and plunged straight into shattered impractical glass slipper territory.
Tearing up the dance floor like a riding mower with four flat tires (in a good way) was a blast, but between the dance lesson that day, the dance, and walking to a geographically-unrelated dinner party in between, I’m a little surprised that blisters didn’t eat my feet. I think I got my money’s worth out of my $15 dress shoes. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go stretch. My girlfriend’s contemplating belly-dancing, and I’m trying to be supportive. I just need to rub my legs with ointment and de-tenderize them with a taffy-puller first.