He was never a great dancer. He had done it in school because his teachers demanded it of him. He was not too bad but he could never be one with the music. He couldn’t shed his inhibitions and let his body flow with the rhythm of the music, not caring about what others felt. He always felt people were watching him, secretly laughing at him making a fool of himself.
Then college happened. Much against his wishes, he was recruited to his classes fresher’s dance. He agreed because he couldn’t say no to his friends. And again he did what was expected of him, ever conscious of the clumsy way his feet moved, as if weighed down by lead blocks. Thankfully he did not mess up on stage.
After the performance, he went with the rest of his team to the Quadrangle. That agora where people let their hair down and swayed to the beat as they rejoiced being young, being carefree. And he saw people like him. People who were even worse than he was just moving their hands and feet in spasmodic jerks but they all had smiles on their faces. They were actually enjoying it.
Before he knew it, hands dragged him into that maelstrom of shouts and wildly thrashing arms and asynchronously gyrating hips and he finally let go. He jumped with them, he screamed with them. He had heard about dance moves like the moon walk and the macarena. Here he learnt the rope, the workshop dance, the PT, the naag dance and a hundred nameless others. And he enjoyed doing each one because he finally didn’t care what he looked like.
4 years went by in a blur. He was out of college. Each one of his dance buddies went his or her separate way. There was no more dancing for him because there was no more quad. No more opportunity. No more renditions of Summer of 69 or Lotela. And he stopped thinking about it because still, dance was not something he really enjoyed unless he was with his friends.
It was 2017. 8 more years had passed by. He got the card in the mail. A wedding invitation. It was a close college friend. The wedding was to be held in Mumbai. He had a few days leave saved up anyway so he decided to go home. To his surprise, every one of his friends had made it for the wedding. He had liked the whole ceremony, the catching up, the nostalgia, the jokes and backslapping. And he went back for the reception.
It was a formal affair. Everyone had turned up in shiny suits and fancy clothes as the occasion and the venue demanded. There was the usual banter as the bride and groom received the gifts. Suddenly the dance floor was open. The couple decided to open the dance with a mellow, rehearsed waltz. Other couples joined. But he stood back. It still wasn’t his thing. And he looked around to see many of his classmates on the fringes doing the same. Hanging back and avoiding the floor.
On an impulse he went to the DJ and made a request. As he went back to his friends, the famous intro played out. A once young Canadian’s voice began to sing about his first guitar. He shot a look of triumph at his friends and flung his jacket down. His friends did the same, loosened their ties and ran onto the floor. And as random people joined them, his mind went back to that first time in the quad. The people around him. The funny dance moves. The voices shouting “DJ sucks”. And for a careless hour, he was back there, with everyone he knew and cared about, doing what he never thought he could do. He danced again.