Updated: Sep 16
I just happened to be reading an article in the New York Times titled "Why Don't we Dance Anymore?" that lamented that dancing as a social activity has been relegated to something for the very young or for people in senior centers. The author posited that weddings were the only chance for accepted multi generational dancing and even then those in the professional or parental period of their lives didn't always feel the freedom to join the fray. Maybe the author has a point, but I think that much of this has to do with the community you live in and how you were introduced to dance in the first place.
I grew up with dance all around me. My mom would have music going on Saturday mornings while we cleaned the house and made brunch and dance breaks would abound. We danced at every birthday party, wedding, and casual cookout. If you won a board game or cards it was perfectly acceptable to have a victory dance. I never had formal dance lessons until the 5th grade. I enjoyed them, mainly because it introduced me to the concept of telling a story with your movement. Dance essentially wasn't anything unusual to me.
It was in middle school when I realized this wasn't true for everyone. My friends all hated having to learn line dancing in P.E. and when it came to the school dance many of them, especially the guys, hung back on the wall. I did not get it at all. In my childhood, everyone danced, it didn't matter your gender, age or color. In middle school, however, I was informed "boys don't really dance unless they have a girlfriend" and given the excuse "I can't dance because I'm white". These rules were foreign and incomprehensible to me, but I still hear stuff like this today, even though there are many men and white people who are amazing dancers. These ideas and a lack of social dancing exposure have led to many people viewing dancing as a stressful activity, something you only do while drunk, or something just to "pick up chicks".
Dance doesn't have to be that limited. It can be just for fun, it can be the thing you use to blow off steam after a long day at work, it can be the way you and your spouse share a laugh together, it can be the way you play with your nieces and nephew, and it can be the way you express an emotion not easily expressed in words. Like anything else the more you do it, the better you become. We get so many first time dancers that come into to the studio bad mouthing themselves before they even start learning to dance. You don't have to perfect at dancing, just try moving. If you're willing to try, the teacher will help you with the rest. And as for social dancing, there's even less need to strive for perfection. If anyone asks, it's your signature move.
If you're feeling like there's no space for you to dance, make that space for yourself. Put on your favorite song, and air guitar it out (yes, that counts as dancing!). Of course, there are always dance classes to help give you some structure.
And yes, you can dance if you want to!