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Dancing on My Own

Can a virtual party ease my COVID-rattled mind?

Illustration by Pablo Lobato
Illustration: Pablo Lobato

I’d been sequestered with my 10-year-old for six days, and my mood was souring. I was worried about my parents, my kid, my job, the health care workers and delivery people, and about how fragile every single fucking thing is. I missed my boyfriend who showed up one morning to wave at me through the window because we’re like two kids in a cystic fibrosis movie who can’t be trusted to stay six feet apart. Most of all I missed my friends. We were texting and FaceTiming, but it was not the same. And that’s when I saw it, sandwiched between two color-coded homeschool schedules on an endless Facebook scroll: The locally led group Dance Dance Party Party was hosting a virtual dance party. This was exactly what we needed. Just like the patron saints of female friendship Meredith Grey and Cristina Yang, we would dance this shit out.

Dance Dance Party Party is a twice-weekly local gathering for an hour of no-holds-barred, no-judgment dancing for female-identifying and gender-expansive folks. It feels like reliving the late-night twirling and hairbrush-as-microphone singing from a sleepover, when no one was worried about their 401(k) amid a global pandemic. Typically the dancing takes place at a studio in North Center, but this night and for the foreseeable future it would be on Zoom, the nation’s new most popular website.

At 7 p.m. I set my laptop on the mantle. I didn’t have to change into exercise gear because I’d been in sweats for days. I logged into Zoom and my screen transformed into a Brady Bunch-esque grid of gals in their living rooms, bedrooms, and kitchens, waving and smiling and laughing at the novelty of it. I found my besties Alexandra, Anita, and Elizabeth in their own little boxes, and I swear my heart grew two sizes just at the sight of them. It helped that Elizabeth had put on a sequin rainbow dress, Anita was outfitted in a neon purple club number, and Alexandra had on giant headphones so as to not disturb her 90-year-old grandmother downstairs.

Soon we were 80 people strong. DJ Khaleesi kicked off the mix, and I flailed around the living room. I really put my back into it. I mean, why not? This is my house and I’ll do what I want. I’ve got all the moves: the shopping cart, the sprinkler, a shoddy running man. And when the beat dropped on a very apropos Violent Femmes’ “Blister in the Sun,” I found myself jumping and jumping and not even caring when I peed my pants a little. It felt so good to move my body and make my girls laugh by slowly walking back and forth past the camera like I was confused to be there. When it was all over I was sweaty and happy and present and some people were crying, and I thought, Wow, maybe we’re gonna get through this. Maybe we’re all gonna be OK if we just stick together while apart.

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