As much as I’ve gone out dancing in the past few years, at clubs like Blondie’s, Vertigo, and Double Dutch, I still felt apprehensive about attending a middle school dance. Since I didn’t learn to love freestyle dancing until college, I’d only been to one dance while at Altimira: the 8th grade graduation dance, where a shy Asian boy who’d had a crush on me asked me to dance to Mariah Carey’s “Hero.” (Was it really only 4 minutes, 23 seconds long? I think we must have danced to the extended remix.) This time, for the Halloween Dance, I wondered if I’d know anyone there. Neither of the girls I’d shadowed were going, only some of their friends whom I knew peripherally. I wondered if I’d have to be that creepy grown-up dancing alone, and if I could even dance “appropriately” to hip-hop without looking ridiculous.
I arrived late, after the doors had already been shut, sneaking in through the unlocked bathroom right before a teacher sealed it off. I had, however, already been granted free admission, not needing to buy a ticket at lunch like the rest of my classmates because I’d planned to chaperone for part of the time. Leadership teacher Mr. Ryan (a.k.a. Andrew, my classmate from Altimira who’d ended up teaching at the school) emailed me to share the guidelines to be enforced: “No PDA, hands where they are supposed to be, no leaving the dance then coming back in, no running, no making out!!!” He added, “Just kidding, I have never seen that here.”