June 8, 2007

Twenty Something / Christina Capecchi

Embrace the dance of life

There’s something about warm weather that prompts people to wed.

You’ll probably hear wedding bells ringing nearby—a relative, a friend, a neighbor—which means you’re warming up your iron and your dance legs.

And if you tuned into ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars,” you might be feeling a bit unprepared, keenly aware that you lack expert instruction, fake eyelashes, dazzling dresses, spray-on tanner and killer legs.

It’s a daunting endeavor to hear music and move your limbs in a way that somehow corresponds. People approach the challenge in a variety of ways. As a young adult on an active wedding circuit, I’ve been tracking the dancing styles. Perhaps you identify with one:

  • The dancer—These are the annoying people who are blessed with that innate gift of rhythm. They embody music in a way that makes sense and looks good.
  • The seductress—These people hit the dance floor and suddenly feel incredibly attractive. Every motion is dramatic—the squinted eyes, the sharp head turns, the pelvic thrusts.
  • The cradle robber—This subgroup typically involves grey-haired men whose self-perception is skewed by dancing. To them, every young woman is available and (inexplicably) attainable.
  • The jumper—This group’s working on their vertical. Every beat is cause to bounce.
  • The clapper—Every beat is cause to clap, too. Clappers tend to sway side to side: clap to the left, clap to the right, repeat. Soon they’re carried away and they can’t be stopped.
  • The sweater—They look like Steve Nash late in a playoff game: flushed cheeks, matted hair, shirt drenched in sweat. But they’re having the time of their lives.
  • The slow dancer—These people pop up when the music slows down. They had seconds on cake. They’re still feeling it. But they’ll waltz to “Wonderful Life.”
  • The interpreter—These people love charades. So if there’s a lyric that can be gestured, they’ll do it. This can get pretty advanced. For Tommy Tutone’s “867-5309,” they punch the numbers in the air.
  • The MTV star—These are the ones who memorize and recreate Beyonce’s hip-hop routine. But without the special effects and talent, it can look like hopscotch gone mad.
  • The lyric lover—They know every word to every song played the entire night. Makes you wonder if they listen to the radio in their sleep. Also makes you feel seriously uncool for never having heard half the songs before.
  • The chicken dancer—These folks love to flap their elbows. And when the tempo picks up, they scrunch their faces in concentration. They’re determined to keep up. They’re working out old wounds from being picked last for seventh-grade flag football games.

Being a young adult feels like standing on the edge of the dance floor. Everyone else seems to know the steps and have momentum. It’s awkward easing in.

But you can’t really dance if you’re watching your feet. And you’ll never have fun if you don’t shake your self-consciousness. So dive in with a sense of humor and a smile. Feel the beat. Do your thing.

That’s St. Paul’s advice in Colossians 3:23: “Whatever you do, in word or deed, do wholeheartedly.”

It’s Jesus’ first miracle at the wedding at Cana, embracing and extending fellowship.

It’s Marty Haugen’s hope in his hymn “Gather Us In.” “Give us the courage to enter the song.”

And it’s my prayer for the next dance and the next day: that we find courage to enter the song. That, when handed hokey pokey, we shake it all about.

(Christina Capecchi is a graduate student at Northwestern University. E-mail her at christinacap@gmail.com.) †

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