Dancing Like Nobody Watches

July 27 , 2019 . By Tsion Fisseha

I became a bridesmaid for the first time in my life as this wedding season is winding down. The experience of a bridesmaid and the struggle of keeping a straight face after three sleepless nights is not at all the purpose of this article, for that topic could take ages to go through.

A bridesmaid, in addition to a whole lot of other things, is responsible for keeping the wedding as festive as possible. From telling the bride that she looks beautiful to giving her cues where to go and when. The job of a bridesmaid, of course, requires dancing and making everyone dance along. There I am in the middle of the dance floor trying to dance like nobody is watching, but pretty aware that almost everyone is.

That is when it hit me. Dancing like nobody is watching is an art and a skill that is a bit more complicated than what it might seem.

Of course there are exceptions to this. We have grown accustomed to the box, to the already set calculations in life, to dancing while being very aware of the fact that someone is most definitely watching. Being watched brings with it so many fears, one of which is being judged. Every move and every step is under scrutiny from complete and utter strangers, not to mention a permanent recording from the cameras and the phones.

I could not help but make a bridge between me dancing on a wedding dance floor and actually living. In a conversation I had with a fellow poet, I asked what he did for a living, and he said, “I breathe and live,” which is a combination so simple, yet so elegant. This response, along with letting go and dancing like no one is watching holds with it a level of freedom and liberty to live the way one pleases.

The same poet read a piece of poetry that emphasised the fact that we are all just pretenders. We are all just pretending to get through the day and swear that this is how we do our dance with or without people watching us.

This concept can always be used as a favorable reinforcement for the negative, borderline illegal, actions one might take. For instance, a child who has been taught never to steal and never to shoplift refrains from doing so because of the fear of getting caught, and because of the doubt that there is a possibility of someone out there watching.

For the most part, however, it is the chain that holds people from becoming their true selves in the very long run.

The idea that someone is always watching the very step one makes forces one to make moves that lack authenticity. Ultimately, everyone just ends up being a replica of past generations and their outlook in life. Society will devolve as it slowly sews limitations on every imitation it demands. As a society, we are so conditioned to care about what others think about us that it prevents us from taking simple risks like dancing.

Older people often tell us that from all the crazy and stupid things they had done in their younger days, what they regret the most are the things they shied away from — the things they did not do because of the fear that somebody was watching or judging them.

This is where dancing like nobody is watching comes in handy. It is the fire that allows anyone to be what they want to be. It is an act of liberation that returns one to their care free and innocent days.

PUBLISHED ON Jul 27,2019 [ VOL 20 , NO 1004]

Tsion Fisseha is a writer and head of foreign languages in the news department at a local TV station. She has been a part of a pan African poetry slam competition representing Ethiopia and is a member of a rock band entitled the Green Manalishi. She can be reached at [email protected]

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