I Was Terrified To Dance

I was in Duane Reade picking up some toothpaste when, on a whim, I decided to buy a bottle of wine. White Zin to be specific. For years I’ve been sold on the idea that it goes well with pasta.

My sister’s longtime friend, Brooke, had just arrived to New York from Florida for a week visit, and I would be entertaining her for the night. My sis had a prior engagement to attend, so I planned to cook my specialty for Brooke and I: chicken alfredo with a fresh tossed salad and some chilled White Zinfandel. YUM!

While I was scurrying back and forth through the aisles of the drugstore (I always struggle to locate the oral health section), old 2000’s music blasted unusually loud through the building’s sound system. I relived a bit of *NSYNC, Britney Spears, and Jennifer Lopez. Queen J.Lo’s year 2000 hit, “Love Don’t Cost a Thing”, boomed and bounced around me sweeping my thoughts away to when I was a freshman in high school.

Growing up, I considered myself talented. I could sing, act a bit, was a great builder of things, and my art teacher in elementary even thought I could draw. But there was one thing I did not believe I had any skill in…dancing. I was terrified to dance in front of others. To me, it felt like such an exposing and intimate art form. I wanted no parts…until my life changed, and I was somewhat forced to 1,2 step for the gawds.

My post middle school life was blueprinted to a T. The plan was to audition for the performing arts high school in my hometown of Houston, Texas, get accepted (of course), hone my singing and acting talents, then leave and be home schooled during my senior year…because I would be working on my debut album (that was going to be released by the time I was nineteen years old). All that was quickly derailed when my parents informed me that they would not truck me across town to the school every morning for the next four years.

So instead of realizing my Fame dreams, I was shipped off to a regular public school where I would simply take band and choir as electives. I immediately began to devise a plan on how I could pursue a record deal in my spare time away from school…until I began summer band camp. My life was surprisingly changed.

My regular public school, Willowridge High, by no means had a regular band program. The Mighty Eagle Marching Band was a two hundred plus member show band that was nationally known for playing the hottest Top 40 tunes with cool style, precision, and jaw dropping dance moves. I was prepared to learn how to toot the radio hits on my saxophone, and I was willing to learn how to march in time, but I was not anticipating shaking my ass across 100 yards every Friday night.

After the first six months, I fell in love with that band, but I was still (in my opinion) a horrible dancer. This was not acceptable because also around that time, I had my sights set on becoming one the band’s drum majors. Dancing was a must if I ever thought I stood a chance at fulfilling that dream. I had to learn how to dance.

I taught myself how to dance by watching music videos (specifically with dance breaks) and learning the routines. There were Usher, Madonna, and Janet Jackson videos, but one I vividly remember studying was Jennifer Lopez’s “Love Don’t Cost a Thing”. I recorded the video on VHS and would rewind and fast-forward until I hit every move with precision and passion. The hard work payed off and a year and a half later, I was a booty poppin’, dynamo of a drum major.

I haven’t danced in a way where I had to learn a routine in a long time. I’m actually still embarrassed at times to shake a tail feather. But thanks to the iconic music videos of the early 2000s, if I ever had to cut a rug again, I am confident that I could set the dance floor ablaze.

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