If you’re from Atlanta then you remember, love and miss the rap group Goodie Mob. Even though this is totally unrelated to this post, allow me to school you on this 4-man group. Goodie Mob stands for “the GOOD DIE Mostly Over Bullshit” and is comprised of Khujo, T-Mo, Big Gipp and Cee-Lo Green before he was 1/2 Gnarls Barkley. They pumped out bangers such as Soul Food, Cell Therapy, Dirty South, Black Ice and Beautiful Skin between 1994 and 1998-ish. Goodie Mob along with Outkast (Dungeon Family!) paved the way for the south to takeover hip-hop.
***I, along with my two buddies Zach and Kyle, have had shot with Cee-Lo and Khujo. Kyle may or may not have recited Goodie Mob lyrics to them but this definitely happened at Atkins Park: the best bar ever.***
But back to my original point, when did we stop dancing?
When I think back to my childhood, I think of afternoons dancing in front of the television trying to be like Michael Jackson. Or my first parties in middle school where the likes of Scottie and Shannon would battle dance in the form of ticking. I even have very fond memories of my first school dance where we actually had a ton of fun dancing with girls for the first time. High school led a lot of us to Cowboys on Sunday nights when we didn’t have school on Monday, or The Teenage Cantina (later renamed to The Factory) to get our first little taste of the nightlife. In college, I remember going down to Have A Nice Day Cafe or Bar Charlotte on Thursday nights during freshmen and sophomore years and having a great time at Zidis as upperclassmen. The Library in ’01, Club Karma back in ’02, Wild Bills in ’04 and Club Europe in ’05. The boys and I would go out and tear it up on dance floor. Then, sometime around the age of 23, I distinctly remember making this statement to my best friend, Joel:
“Eventually, I’m going to have to learn how to talk and have an actual conversation with the opposite sex.”
Even with no prior experience, I knew, somehow, that running up behind a girl and starting do dance with her eventually wouldn’t suffice as a conversation starter. This was terrifying to me. To this point, I had been in relationships and had girlfriends. Some were really smart, some were really cute, some were almost cool but never once had I “run game” on a female. Anyone who knows me can attest that I have ZERO game and I consider myself mildly attractive at best. But what I lack in ‘bar hots’, I (believe) make up for with conversational humor in the form of witty one-liners. This seems to work well for my personality but, up to that point, I never had to rely upon it solely.
So that brings me back to my original question, when did we stop dancing? I believe this answer is two-fold because dancing is both emotional and physical. We first must be emotionally/mentally be free and feel that no one is watching or judging. Second, and more obviously, we’ve gotta move our hips and tap our feet to the beat (harder for some than others). One of the biggest differentiators between children and adults is self-awareness or the ability to see yourself as others see you. As an adult I thank the Lord above that I have a very keen awareness of myself. Sometimes, it’s all we have as a line of defense between ourselves and the outside world. But, when it comes to dancing, for the most part, it’s the last thing you want or need. You’ve gotta be free to dance. Most children (which is what we are until probably 25) don’t have this and that’s why they are able to do some of the amazing things and have the most fun–like dancing. Type in “kid dancing” on in YouTube and let me know what you find.
As a young adult I would pass judgement on those who could “only dance when they were drunk” or hated dancing. But as I’ve gotten older I almost resign to the same school of thought. Don’t get it twisted, I CAN DANCE. I won a school hula-hooping contest in 2nd grade and a male booty-shaking contest when I was 18–Alvin gets down. What I’m saying is that I’ve become more and more comfortable sitting at a bar and just talking to people. The inverse is that it has to be a big night out for me to snazz it up and head to the local discotheque. I enjoy it now and again but more times than not, you’ll catch me in a jeans and t-shirt type of spot trading barbs with the other dive-bar goers. I honestly prefer a whiskey on the rocks at a place where I can hear the person 4 feet away from me as opposed to mixed drinks and techno beats. I’m a talker and I feel that’s when I get my best work done. It’s weird how things change.
Self awareness comes with age and naïvety leaves almost simultaneously. I guess this is part of our natural evolution as human beings. For better or worse is ultimately up to each one of us to decide but we should have the wherewithal to remember how much fun we used to have just dancing. If it’s a night out with the friends and the most high falutin’ spot in town, a spring-time wedding or a dance party in your living room, it’s good to let your hair down from time to time.