Stepping into the Monastery on Friday night, I noticed that the venue has lots and lots of two things in particular. Over-sized speakers and skinny, pretty looking 18 year olds. Great – the two things in the world least conducive to conversation.
The night turned out to be quite an awkward yet rewarding experience…
Because I arrived at the venue a little early, and unfortunately a tad solo, I felt a tad out of place from the get-go. To avoid people picking up on this fact, I did what anyone that which any self-respecting marketer would do. I did my best to pretend the place was like a networking event.
So there I was, my hand shooting out in front of people I had never met with a congenial ‘Hi I’m Chris’. My approaches were met with either an affronted wariness or a hesitant friendliness.
My introductions did manage to spark up a few conversations. Only one of which (and there were many) was worth the time, the rest of them consisted of an over-zealous generic handshake with some dialogue about how loose they were going to get. To which I would respond by laughing and gesturing in a way that said ‘Yeah, I am getting loose too.’ I thought this was a better response than leaning over and shouting over the music into their ear;
‘I’m actually not drinking this evening for a psych-research project into youth binge drinking. By the way you are swaying, there is a good chance that you will feature in it tomorrow…Wanna be mates?’
After 30min of the meet and greet exercise and I had successfully exhausted the room of approachable people. I decide to make a move to the dance floor to see how I would go there. I start bobbing a little bit. Enough of a bob to plausibly be dancing but not so much as to make me wonder what my hands should and shouldn’t be doing. I try to think how Nick Cave or Julian Cassablancas might dance in this situation, some sort of nonchalant shuffle.
This experience brings up a few questions about dancing. Is it a learned skill? Or are people born with ‘it’? Am I a good dancer? What constitutes good dancing? Does anybody really care? This Melbourne shuffle thing, do these people practice at home or is it a genetic skill given to people around the age of 18?
I decide to try and mimic what a few of them were doing with their feet. I tragically lose the beat, get a little embarrassed and go back to bobbing.
About 20 minutes pass and the dance floor fills up a bit. I get a little more comfortable and start getting some hand actions involved. I try a few of my trademark, interpretive dance styles which could be described as someone that looks like they are in a bubble under the sea. I look around. The rest of the d-floor is either engrossed in their own flippant dancing style or doing a similar bobbing action to what I started with.
I realise that this could well be a major turning point for me. After about 30minutes of dancing, I think I may have just let go of the crippling feeling that others are judging me when I dance.
‘OK’ I think. So that is dancing sober taken care of. I now know that I don’t need to drink to be comfortable on the dancefloor. Now on to hurdle number two. Tuning girls.
Two gorgeous (and quite tipsy) ladies, who tell me they have just broken up with their boyfriends get a photo with me.
I start to get confident that I might actually allay two of my fears in one night. I fail miserably and go home. On the way back to my car, I see a man dancing next to a street musician and think to myself, that probably would have been me.