Why are school dances so awkward?

Movie: Napoleon Dynamite

Seriously? Why are school dances so incredibly awkward?

If it’s not completely segregated with boys on one side of the gym/cafeteria and girls on the other for a full hour, then it’s a matter of dancing with someone with two feet of space between you.

Or maybe the space thing had to do with the Catholic school dance experience. You have to “leave room for the Holy Spirit,” after all.

I was not comfortable with my body, comfortable in trying new moves. I was the self-conscious kid who very much didn’t want to look stupid.

And yet, I did show up. That’s something. I didn’t just avoid these experiences altogether. (Good job, young Lindsay, for pushing yourself and testing out different environments!)

While I wasn’t comfortable with trying anything free-form, I could do some line dances. They were basic, repetitive movements that were fairly easy to learn and pretty fool proof. You didn’t have to do anything fancy for the Electric Slide or whatever else there was. It was a simple way of joining in.

I remember being jealous of those kids who had gone through Social to learn special dances. They knew the moves and were free to dance together, even if the movements didn’t quite match up with the rhythm of the current song playing. Their dance steps looked fun, but it was intimidating that others knew the moves and I didn’t. Yet, I didn’t feel comfortable enough to ask someone to go through the steps and teach me.

And there seemed to be an unstated rule that it was acceptable to dance with someone your height or the guy had to be taller. But if a girl was taller, then that was considered weird. Or maybe it was just my perception of things.

Since there wasn’t a lot of partner dancing for me, I ended up basically attaching myself to friends that were there. I wouldn’t necessarily have anything to contribute to the conversation, but I would stand around with them. And if they decided to move to another side of the cafeteria, then I blindly followed. This was one scenario where I didn’t want to be by myself.

At one of the dances, there was a call for the girls basketball team to come up on the big, raised stage of the cafeteria. Or maybe it was both basketball teams; I’m not sure. I don’t remember if they offered a reason or not. But once assembled, then it was revealed they wanted us to lead everyone in the Macarena. I just remember being mortified. I either remained glued to the side of the stage or immediately left. But there was no way I was going to do that. Not in front of everyone else.

Sensory overload was a real possibility at a dance. What with the loud music, lots of people, potential for getting bumped into and everything else happening. But I don’t recall having trouble with it, other than the social aspects already mentioned. Perhaps wanting to be there helped with coping through the event.


6 thoughts on “Why are school dances so awkward?”

  1. When I was in 10th or 11th grade, I decided to get things started by doing this ridiculous dance (think Michael Scott Booze Cruise ridiculous) to be funny. Probably the most cringeworthy moment of my teen years.


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