SCENE: Every middle school dance I ever attended

KC: You know, on Saved by the Bell, at their dances they have punch and stuff.
Kid: That show sucks.
KC: Yeah, um, I think so too. Totally.
Kid: Look at that guy, dancing with a girl. What a fag.

Casey dancing with a girl
Flex your hips to lock the lips.
I grew up in the Midwest, which I guess I'm proud of. We learned a good work ethic, how to survive in the freezing-ass cold, and how to say "Hi" to people we don't know. But what I never learned was how to dance with a girl. Why? Well, the above conversation is the biggest part.

Mostly, our middle school dances were chances to try to increase our coolness, get in or watch a fight, dress in our best flannel shirts (this was the 1990s), and for some of us to stay out past 10 p.m.—or maybe that was just me. Rarely did we ever actually "dance." Except for slow dances, but just about any dickhead can do that. Of course, my slow dancing chances with a girl ended up being pretty rare because:

  1. I was terribly uncool.
  2. Talking to girls terrified me.
  3. Girls hate uncool kids.
  4. I was afraid to touch girls for fear of STDs—on top of not learning how to dance, my sexual education instruction was pretty subpar.

Every once in while a new kid would join our school. Maybe he was from an urban area (RE: black) or maybe he was Hispanic or a European exchange student. During the hip hop songs and such, these weirdos would actually dance with the girls. We assumed it was just because they were "different" and didn't really know better. But what they knew that we didn't know probably shaped the destruction of many relationships-to-be.

"KC, when you get to college, you're going to have to take a gym class. All the meatheads are going to take weightlifting and basketball… if you're smart, you'll take a dance class."In social studies classes we learned that every country or region performed their own particular style of dances, which prompted some of the mutants in my middle school to say, "I bet all Italians and Brazilians are homos." I thought maybe the evil parents of these poor children from other nations forced their brethren to shake their hips WITH GIRLS as some sort of foreign punishment, just like how my parents made me take swimming lessons or learn how to type (two things that helped me a lot later in life, but I hated at the time).

I blame some of this lack of knowledge not just on poor education or narrow minds, but on crappy role models. Who danced in the 90s? New Kids on the Block? Some gay guys with gay haircuts and clothes. Boyz II Men? Gayish black dudes. Kris Kross? Little gay urban kids with stupid fashion sense. Madonna? Back then Madonna was just a weird slutty chick with weird gay-looking backup dancers—well I guess she's pretty much the same thing now, just really old. Michael Jackson? Gayest of the gay and gay for little boys too.

So for most of my formative years, I thought dancing was gay and the only people who danced were gay. This continued into high school and its dances, where the only thing different was that some kids tried to get drunk beforehand. Again, the only dancing was slow stuff and the new rage: slam dancing, where you run into somebody full speed and hit them. That was popular, violent, and totally not gay.

But many many years ago my high school Spanish teacher gave me some of the greatest advice I've ever heard. Se?ior Reihl said, "KC, when you get to college, you're going to have to take a gym class. Now, all the meatheads are going to take weightlifting and basketball for the easy A. But, if you're really smart, you'll take a dance class. Now, I know you might think it's gay, but it's not. Think about it, you'll be in a class with all girls and maybe a few gay guys. AND, you'll learn how to dance. Believe me, girls love to dance. And if you like girls, you'll learn. And girls will love you for it."

Eventually, when I started college I needed to take PE, and since I already knew how to lift weights and play basketball (not really), I signed up for dance class. And sure enough it was 24 girls, a few gay dudes, a swim team buddy, and me.

We started off pretty easy with country line dancing—simple but pretty worthless. Then we moved to the minuet and waltz, which would probably be alright if I was a lord or a count in the 1800s. But the valuable skill we took from these was how to hold a woman. Don't be afraid of her, except if you pop a boner while touching her hand and delectable college-age hip. Later it was that it took two to tango. Finally, we learned swing dancing: spins, twists, rag dolls, and all that good stuff. It was fun, exciting, and moderately sexy.

You'll notice that never did we learn to dance to a rhythm. But since only white people took the class, the teacher probably figured teaching astrophysics to lemmings would be easier. Thus we skipped that part.

So the next time I snuck into a bar, I was only 19, I tested some of my newly acquired swing dancing moves out. And you know what? They worked. Pretty soon, I felt cool and girls wanted to dance with me. Se?ior Reihl was right: girls started to like me. What were their boyfriends or potential one-night stand guys doing? Sitting on the walls, nursing their beers, and calling me a "faggot" under their breath.

Well, who's the faggot banging your girl? That's me, and I'm proud of it. And I'm still doing it.

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