Thursday, August 07, 2008

Having a blast at the Harlequin Party!

I spent the past week in San Francisco at RWA's national conference. One of the things I look forward to at the conference is the crazy dancing free-for-all that is the Harlequin Party. To testify here's a picture taken at the party this year. From left: Mary Biebel, Laura Iding in the background, Judith Lyons, Pam Ford, Lori Handleland and me, Ann Voss Peterson. We might not be exactly homicidal in this photo, but we sure are hot. ;) I love to dance. Especially at this stage of my life, because I have finally figured out what dancing is all about.

My father is a musician. Specifically, he plays tuba in a polka band (how deliciously Wisconsin is that?). So I learned to dance polkas, waltzes and schottisches by the time I was three years old. Dancing was pure fun for me back then. The opportunity to jump around and express my joy.

In highschool, dancing is all about posing and being seen. Looking cool and sexy is the whole point of going out on the floor, even though my friends and I had a very spotty understanding of what sexy actually was. I was a pom-pon girl for a year, too. But that didn’t have as much to do with dancing as with back-biting highschool girl politics. When the basketball season ended, I was relieved and vowed never to subject myself to anything remotely cheerlead-y again.

In college and in my twenties, dancing was about attracting guys. Of course, this method always left a lot to be desired. Most notably that one can’t control the type of male who was attracted.

After I got married, I didn’t dance nearly as often. You see, my husband hates dancing. Even watching others dance sends him back to the time his mother forced him to take tap lessons when he was about ten. He still shudders each time he sees the photo of himself on stage dressed as a tap-dancing playing card. To him, dancing means humiliation.

And that brings me to the Harlequin Party. A ballroom filled with authors, all gussied up and dancing ourselves into breathless pools of sweat. Goofy dance moves (I used some great ones this year, the lawn mower, the sprinkler, the batusi, hee hee!). Kicked off shoes. A room filled with smiles. The Harlequin Party is all about dancing for the pure joy of it. It reminds me of a room full of gleeful three-year-olds doing the polka. The optimism and energy is truly fabulous. I wish I could bottle it and post it on the blog for all of you to enjoy. But since I haven’t figured out how to do that, I’ll include a video that conveys that same jubilant, coming together feeling, except on a much larger scale.

And that leads me to my question: Wanna dance? And if not, why not?

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