June 24, 2013

No Parking on the Dance Floor


OK, perhaps some parking is allowed. I can be reasonable.

And yeah, this post was inspired by recent events that transpired on a literal dance floor. But as usual when I have a grievance, I don't just need to bitch about it: I also gotta analyze and generalize and get all metaphorical! Plus I try to find some kind of  "life lesson" and share it.

Annoying and pedantic? Of course! But it's how my brain likes to process stuff. Some people meditate or take Prozac or go pummel a punching bag; I over-think and blog.

I am sometimes amazed there are any Cranky Fitness readers left.

Wait, are there any Cranky Fitness readers left?

(Always good to keep checkin'! It sure would be lonely on planet Cranky if y'all got fed up and wandered away).

So anyway, who tried to harsh Crabby's mellow over the weekend and what thoughts did this lead to?

Oh wait, first, let's set the stage.

Tea Dance at the Boatslip...

Is the most awesome summer recreational activity I've ever encountered. Regular readers have had to hear about this before; we are big Tea Dance fans.


Outside, hundreds gather poolside to schmooze, but to me the best part happens on the small crowded dance floor inside.


(And why is it called "Tea" Dance if there is no Earl Grey or cucumber sandwiches on offer? It's because of the early hour; the whole thing is over by 7pm--perfect for old farts like us).

DJ MaryAlice plays great stuff.  And most weekends, there is an amazing amount of positive energy on the dance floor: there is almost always a diverse and enthusiastic crowd of revelers.  Many are on vacation and having the time of their lives.

On weekends the Hat Sisters often show up in themed attire and make the rounds.  It's all very festive.

(And sorry, lovely hat sisters, I couldn't find a recent photo of my own so I stole this from your Facebook page).

You can be young, old, gay, straight, weird, klutzy, fat, musclebound... and most importantly, a totally sucky dancer and nobody cares.

The Lobster is a soulful, graceful, and adorable dancer. I am always quite pleased to be her  partner.




I however... have that awkward tomboyish inability to hip-wriggle gracefully, not that I don't try. But have you ever seen a straight guy or "sporty" androgynous gal with no booty-swinging confidence but a lot of energy try to shake their groove thang? It's, well,... it's... um... different.  Let's go with that.

Plus, I get so inspired by the music that I frequently leap up in the air, or twist down low; I spin around and shimmy and make spastic swinging motions with my arms.  Am I hilariously awful? Yes! Do I give a crap? Nope!


I do make it a rule though to try to stay in roughly the same place as I jump and gyrate, in order to avoid inadvertently punching people in the face or knocking them to the floor. (I will leave for another time the exasperation I feel when a few oblivious dancers ram into everyone around them over and over and take up ten times the dance floor acreage to which they are entitled).

But generally: happy crowd, much camaraderie and good cheer.


The Lobster took a quick 20 second video clip off her phone which captures the vibe quite well and even shows a glimpse of me in Full Make-an-Ass-of-Myself Mode; let's see if this blogger video thingy actually works:

video


Anyway, so Who Was Parkin' It And Why Did It Bug Me So Much?

The  Provincetown Film Festival was underway, so I'm guessing the group of trendy young pretty things who drifted onto the dance floor may have been attached to some film.  But normally Film Fest people are awesome so maybe they were just in town for a wedding or something.

The tunes were cranking and everyone else was grinning and jumping and singing along as in the video, and being all blissed out. Awesomeness!

But these folks went straight to the middle of the dance floor, circled up and proceeded to sip their cocktails. But they refused to dance or even sway. Was the music not to their liking? The crowd?

They looked totally bored and put-upon and gave the impression that they felt WAY too cool to be caught dancing to this music, with this motley bunch, in this venue. Even though it was tremendously apparent that, well, screw Disneyland, this was the happiest place on earth.

We were right next to them, and suddenly I felt a huge energy suck. The black hole of negativity was strangely hard to ignore.  I don't think I realized how much of the excitement I feel dancing is not due just to the music, but to the proximity of other happy enthusiastic humans.  It found myself feeling weirdly defensive of the good time I was having, as well as self-conscious and grumpy.

There were a million other spots they could slurp their drinks! Yet they chose the center of a crowded dance floor, and it was all I could do to keep from saying:  if you don't want to be here, then LEAVE already!

I didn't. To the Lobster's great relief I'm sure. Eventually, after quite a long time, they left. It is possible we may have clapped.

I've seen this happen a number of times before too, and in this venue it is generally perpetrated by the young and buff and fashionable. Those who are drawn to being in the middle of things and who enjoy being looked at. They peer around with amusement or disdain at those around them and won't participate, unmindful or uncaring about the deflating impact this has on those around them.

And Yet... I Have Been that Clueless Snot-Nosed Assh-le Myself.

After I finished being all judgey and indignant about these callow youths and their attitude and re-immersed myself in the good-vibe-awesomeness again, it occurred to me:  I have done the same kind of shit myself.  A lot.

I have formed a lot of critical opinions and judgements in my life.  I have found myself at occasions that seemed "beneath my standards" and did not want to be mistaken for someone who went there on purpose.  I've laughed at tourists. I've employed sarcasm and smirked and giggled. I've rolled my eyes at long-winded speakers at graduations, earnest bad poetry, off key singers, kids acting out in restaurants... you get the idea.

But somehow I thought if I didn't actually say anything, out loud and publicly, that I wasn't accountable for my attitude.  I didn't go to great lengths to hide my feelings carefully, to make an effort either join in and celebrate with others, or if that seemed too impossible, to slip away quietly and get my self-satisfied judgmental butt out the door.

I wonder how many happy "dancers" over the years may have felt the cool breeze of my condescension and wished I'd get over myself and join in the humanness of the moment?

I'm older now, and not quite as bad as when I was younger.  But I'm not sure I've entirely outgrown it. After all, my first instinct with the Cool Kids was to meet their dance-floor hogging disdain with pointed looks and furrowed eyebrows.  Yep, fight negativity with negativity, that's a winner of a strategy!

So I'd like to to be more mindful that words are not the only form of communication, and to try to be a bit more careful about the kinds of energy I put out into the world.

Cranketeers on the Dance Floor!

This all brings to mind the awesomeness of this particular blog readership.  It's like being on a happy dance floor jumping up and down when I pop down into the comments, everyone is so fun and supportive! This is not the case on many blogs and forums.

And is blogging sort of a strange way to spend a bunch of time in a world filled with all kinds of other more lucrative opportunities?

I don't care, I love it!

Have you guys ever felt deflated by negative energy around you?

Oh, and thanks Marie of the awesome Purple Cactus in J. P. for snapping photos and joining us on the dance floor!

45 comments:

  1. Plenty of negative energy out there for sure in all kinds of places!

    Take a Zumba lesson for some hip action goodness, Crabby!

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    1. Dr. J I know I should! Funny though, that "don't give a crap what others think" attitude totally disappears when I have to try to learn steps. I become incredibly self conscious. Gotta work on that!

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  2. First of, go you! That tea dance looks like an absolute blast. As for the energy vampire circle in the middle, I wish them a long life, a strong conscience, and an infallible memory.
    I am very sensitive to negative energy. It can suck the very life from me. But if I know ahead of time I'll meet it I can prepare. If not, then I have sometimes lost it with the energy sucker. I once said to my complaining, relentlessly negative MIL: "Doesn't anything good ever happen to you?"
    She was so surprised she actually took a moment and came up with something good to say about her world.


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    1. go, Leah!

      Mary Anne in Kentucky

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    2. Leah, love the advice to the energy vampires and what a great story about your MIL! Really got her thinking!

      And some day you'll have to find yourself in ptown and join us! Not as exotic as some of your other travels perhaps...

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    3. Leah, I LOVE what you said to your MIL - and her reaction, too. Wish I had the wherewithal to come up with that line when it's necessary!

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  3. I've heard that people behave on the dance floor the way they behave in the bedroom! hahaha! :-)



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    1. Too funny HSH! Wait, oh my goodness, I was first just thinking of the immobile cool kids at first but the broader implications are now dawning on me... from that perspective, perhaps this whole post was a bit of an overshare!

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  4. I do like to think that when I silently sneer at things, I do so from the sidelines, not the middle of the dance floor. The middle of the classroom, now, yes.

    Mary Anne in Kentucky

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    1. Funny Mary Anne, I wouldn't have taken you to be the sneery type! I would somehow guess you'd be more direct, let your thoughts be known, and then cheer up and/or move on.

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    2. Cheer up and move on, certainly, but actually express my feelings to total strangers? Not so much.
      Also, customers? Not good to express so much to them.

      Mary Anne in Kentucky

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    3. Good point about the customers Mary Anne! Unless you want to be the Soup Nazi of the animal-care world.

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  5. That Tea Dance sounds like my kind of thing (I suck at dancing, rhythm, hip moving - all of it) but I love to have a good time!!! Y'all look like you are having an incredible time!
    Boo to the fun suckers!!!
    Over the past few years, I've tried to remove myself from as much negativity as I can (doesn't mean I'm always positive but being around negative people always drags me down).

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    1. Bet you'd be a blast on the dance floor Kim! Though with your athleticism you might have to be careful with the jumping... you might bang your head on the ceiling.

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    2. Negative energy doesn't phase me. I just keep on drinking and bumping into the parked non-dancers. They move eventually. And now I have that song stuck in my head on repeat. Thanks! No parking, baby...no parking on the dance floor.

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    3. LaShaune, good for you for taking the negative energy of the parkers and using it as motivation for a dance-floor bumper car workout. "They move eventually." Love that!

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  6. Oh, I love this post! I can't watch the video at work, and I can't comment from home (Mac issue), but just from the text and photos, that Tea Dance looks like the best time!

    I grew up in a very judgy environment -- intellectual and cultural snobbery was called "discernment" and it was part of nearly every conversation. Being ornery from the get-go, I developed a passion for beer, country music and monster-truck shows, but it took years of therapy to really shed the judginess, and now I generally only feel it for jerks and frauds. It's a disease.

    Two exercises I used to reduce judgmentalism:

    1. On walks or the streetcar, as I watch the world go by, I would describe things I saw in neutral language - "That car is pink." "There is a ripped bag of garbage in that yard." "That woman is wearing shorts and a tank top. She is clutching her arms, probably because she is cold." It sounds robotic, but it builds non-sneery habits.


    2. Specifically on looks, I invented what I call "The Beauty Game". I pick a random person on the streetcar and declare them the ultimate vision of beauty in an alternate reality, then I figure out how they would be described by the fawning press. Fat becomes evidence of a lust for life. Wrinkles become indicators of adventures known. Slopping shoulders show that a person has taken on intense responsibilities. Visible acne becomes a proud refusal to cower behind make-up. Make-up becomes playful art. It's really fun, and it makes you appreciate that there really is beauty everywhere, but we've all just had our vision narrowed by society.

    I have no ideas for how to handle people who are sneering, though. Maybe that is when you needed someone who dances all over the floor and bounce into people!

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    1. Trabb's boy, how awesome is this comment?!?

      So yeah, "discernment" and "negativity" can be a slippery slope sometimes. And is it still ok to think that some things are truly better than others rather than just different? I struggle with this! And I'm with you on beer and country music, though not yet acquainted with monster truck shows. They sound kinda fun though.

      Love the two exercises!!! I play with similar ones when I'm out and about, especially if I find myself feeling too thinky and opinionated. "Weeds," "garbage," "deterioration," etc can all be beautiful if viewed from the right perspective. And people... such beauty and variety there if we only knew how to look!!

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  7. love the video!!!!!!!!!
    exactly the kind of party i would hang out at... here we have some very cool lesbians who consider smiling very uncool... :)
    nevertheless: im of the jumping and yelling kind too!especially with this kinda music...
    sorry for stalking and not commenting for a while, i cut back on screen time and found myself a woman, a new job and a running track.....
    i enjoy your posts tremendously and still consider myself a ( very silent) cranketeer!
    cheers! :)

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    1. Puja, that's fantastic news about the new gal, job, and running track!! And I'm not surprised you are the jumping and yelling kind on the dance floor. So glad you are out there lurking, and it's better to have a great life than worry about commenting on blogs. But I always love it when you do!

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  8. "I've rolled my eyes at long-winded speakers at graduations" - haven't we all? LOL. Anyway, what you described totally reminded me of junior high dances and usually that group too cool to partake is actually too self-conscious. But you do always wonder why the are there? I am trying to think of a particular energy suck situation, but that is what I always envision; for whatever reason they just don't want to be there. :)

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    1. Good point QD about those who may appear aloof who are actually self-conscious. But yeah, it's the showing up and showing off part of the aloofness that's kind of hard to understand. Staying at the fringes because one is nervous is much more comprehensible to me!

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  9. Mac issue? What kind, since I'm commenting from Macs every time I comment.

    Mary Anne in Kentucky

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  10. LOVE that video (it really DOES capture the 'fun'-ness of that Tea Dance!!

    Anyhow - I think you're being too hard on yourself, Crabby.

    The folks who hogged the middle of the floor in that manner sort of invited (maybe even intentionally?) such a reaction with their own behavior. Did they not ever hear the expression about not raining on someone else's parade? Sheesh!.... What could possibly be gained by trying to dampen another person's good time that does no harm to anyone else?

    And tt's very hard not to get drawn in to the negative swirl created. It's sort of like the vortex of water going down a drain: everything gets kind of sucked in and that dark energy is hard to counteract.

    What I'm curious about is why this is becoming a kind of trend. I noticed something similar during the one and only time I was at an actual "club" in recent years (in Las Vegas). What's the deal? If they want to be that "cool", they simply wouldn't even bother attending.So - it can't really be about that, right?

    The only thing maybe that was a missed opportunity was for someone to ask them "Hey - what's up? How come you all are doing this?". Seriously.

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    1. Aw, anon, love that you always have my back.

      I really thought about asking/encouraging them to dance but I was a bit leery of any interaction being perceived as critical/aggressive. And truthfully, had I tried to engage them I WOULD have been coming from a place of annoyance, not curiosity. Took me a while to chill!.

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  11. It's so hard to counteract the negativity, both from others, and the times i want to dish it out. When i feel myself wanting to do that, i try to put myself in the place of those around, and empathize instead.

    Next time i see someone on a dance floor and not dancing and looking bored, i'm going to tell them about the bedroom comparison! LOL

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    1. I love that strategy Messymimi!

      And yeah, I have to confess I didn't really spend a lot of time trying to empathize. On reflection, I wonder: what must it be like to need to constantly express negativity towards other "lesser" mortals in order to boost your own self esteem? Doesn't seem like a recipe for happy living.

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  12. The "I'm bored because you people are just too uncool" works--maybe--when you're 15, but is too obnoxious for words in a grown adult. I suppose it could have been worse, though. Instead of standing in a circle, sipping their cocktails, they could have been standing in a circle, sipping their cocktails and playing with their $@&@!#*@ phones.

    I've been to P-town in the summer, but I never went Tea Dance. Your video makes me greatly regret that.

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    1. Too funny, M.A.; I didn't even give them credit for not standing there texting the entire time!

      Next time in Ptown... consider tea dance! It really is a kick.

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  13. Well, I think I can solve the mystery of why the people who are way too cool for the party not only turn up but also make sure that everyone knows about it... I mean, what's the point being THAT COOL if nobody notices?

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    1. Seems surprisingly obvious when you say it Shadowduck, but I realize that hadn't actually occurred to me!

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  14. I'm sure we've all played the vampires at one time or another.. we're opinionated people and can't possibly agree with everyone about what's fun. We can only hope that we aren't so obviously disdainful of others.. and that we eventually learn from our own or others' behavior. We're all a work in progress.

    You and your group sure seemed to be having a blast. I love the Lobster's brief video. Seems that you really can't capture vampires on film. ;)

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  15. That would have been uncomfortable for me, too, when you are dancing it really helps to be around other enthusiastic dancers and not to feel judgmentally observed. I admire those who are so confident that they can be the first ones out on the dance floor.

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  16. Jan, my FB share sums it up - I am still smiling!! I loved this & how I felt as I read it!! LOVED the smorgasbord of people. YES. I get what you were saying about ourselves - I think we get looser with age & DON'T CARE! :)

    I LOVED seeing you guys have so much fun!

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  17. Well, I could tell you some stories about the negative soul-sucking energy I'm immersed in by my utterly depressing co-workers every day (and yeah, I do judge them) but why spread the alcohol-soaked misery any further? ;) And, Crabby, come on...laughing at tourists is like an autonomic body function akin to breathing -- it can't be helped. ;) That said, your passes in the first pic ID'ing you as "townies" are priceless! Do others get passes where they're labeled "tourist" or "summer folk" or "seasonal employee" or "summer guest of townie"??? As for the cooler-than-thou who peed in your Cheerios, may their sunblock wear off unexpectedly at the nude beach!

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  18. Having young kids definitely helps take your judgie-blinders off. They see the world from a whole different angle (and I don't just mean their height). They dance when they want, skip when they want, and cry when they need to. We could learn something from them. (First lesson: enough with the peer pressure. Everybody be yourself and WHO CARES.)

    On the dancing note: I'll second zumba. Or any dance type class. Don't worry about the learning steps part. Those of us who look like we know what we're doing were once in your shoes. And more than anything we like to help people learn. The more that dance, the merrier!

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  19. I love dancing! And I am also a terrible hip-wiggler!! This tea dance sounds right up my alley. (Plus: The hat sisters. AMAZING.) I'm sorry you had a group of fun suckers stuck right in the middle of your party. I was going to write that I've never done anything like that but then you brought up earnest bad poetry. Yipe.

    And I heart your message about being kind and non-judgey!!

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  20. Death Ride GrandmaJune 25, 2013 at 4:02 PM

    Sorry to hear they took some of your fun away! It's hard to imagine wanting to stand there, but I guess people will do all sorts of weird stuff to impress their companions. And I think Shadowduck makes a great point.

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  21. First of all, I love that video and your dance moves - I have no sense of rhythm (yes, says the one who just started playing the drums...), and fast dancing was not my thing when I was young (although give me a Bread song and I'll be slow dancing in a heartbeat), but when punk/new wave music came out and you could just sort of jump up and down? I found my moves!

    Anyway. Negativity - yes. I'm dealing with someone at the moment who a mutual friend has nicknamed "thundercloud" - and I'm trying to not let her dark mood overshadow stuff. It's a PITA to deal with, though, especially when I know (as you discovered with those dance floor duds) that her negativity does bring me down.

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  22. That looks like so much fun and I can see why you would get irritated. I applaud your ability to take a step back. It is really easy to be judge-y and critical, as much as we might try not to be.

    But seriously - why would anyone bother to plant themselves in the middle of the dance floor and stand around looking bored? Why would you not leave if it was not your thing? Grumble, grumble, grumble....Yep, totally get it. :)

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  23. Dancing has always been a passion of mine, ever since I was a little girl! It doesn't matter how you look when you dance, "It's all about how you feel". There is always a spoil sport in the room, the trick is to not draw attention to them if possible.
    These type pf people are just sad!!!

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  24. It seems you are luckier on the “dance floor” of your Cranky Fitness Blog than on the the Boatslip Resort! You weren’t just dwelling on negative thoughts though. Those folks who illegally parked in the middle of your “happiest place on earth” are the stimuli that created the black hole and made you grumpy. You have all the right to be! Next time you may try to blatantly tell them not to park on your side or go to a not-so-happy place on earth instead. Smug? Well, you can always double the leap, twist down lower, “spin around and shimmy and make spastic swinging motions” with your arms and do a pushing you out with your foot stance.

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