Dancing the Day Away

During our last week at Poynter, the summer fellows and I were asked to choose a theme song to describe ourselves and our time at the Institute. The songs ranged from classical to rap to classic rock. “Dancing Queen,” “Walk It Out,” and “Don’t Stop Believin,” were just a few of the songs on our play list.

I chose Freak Nasty’s “Da Dip”.

I dance to “Da Dip” frequently because it reminds me to take a mental break from the rigmarole of life. Listening to “Da Dip” makes me think of the time I made up a dance to the song and performed it during a talent show in the ninth grade. More recently, it reminds me of the time I dipped my way across a parking lot at the University of Virginia.

I had been on a Habitat for Humanity trip in Concord, N.C., and my group and I were staying at the university overnight on our way back to Providence. We wanted to make our last night together memorable, so instead of turning in early for the night, we ate dinner at a Mexican restaurant and then drove around in our white, 12-passenger van. We found rest next to a tennis court.

We started to throw a tennis ball around, but that got old quickly. So we decided to make use of the radio in our van and start dancing. We sang at the top of our lungs to Shakira’s “Hips Don’t Lie,” Beyonce’s “To the Left,” and to the oh-so-classic Spice Girls song, “Wannabe.” Bless the souls of the two guys who were with us.

Then we danced to “Da Dip.” I dipped and sang, and then dipped and sang some more, until my limbs hurt so much I thought I might get sick from too much double dipping.

But the dancing sets me free.

While in that parking lot, I didn’t care that I only had one day left to start and finish “The Late George Apley” for my Literature of Boston course, or that I had to start planning for the following week’s issue of our student newspaper, The Cowl. I only cared about having fun and surrounding myself with friends.

In college, dancing brought my friends and I together. Dance parties were always the precursor to our weekend evenings out on the town. Sophomore year our dance parties were at their best. Every Friday and Saturday night, 10 of us would gather in McDermott Hall and belt out the words to Madonna’s “Like a Prayer,” and Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody.”

I often lost my voice by the time we actually made it out of the dorm, but it was worth it. And, it gave me a chance to practice my dancing. In seventh grade, I remember a boy teased me for the way I danced. Okay, maybe I was an arm flailer, and maybe I’m still a finger pointer, but I wasn’t ever as bad as, say, Elaine from Seinfeld. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5xi4O1yi6b0(Great episode!)  

In many ways, dancing is a catalyst for laughter. When I’m in the newsroom and in need of some smiles, I can’t help but get the urge to dance. So, when the Poynter fellows encouraged me to dance to “Da Dip” after five weeks of working hard in the newsroom, I did.

“I put my hand up on your hip, when you dip I dip, we dip.” My favorite line: “If you ain’t trippin’, you must be dippin’. If you ain’t doing it down low, gasta go, gasta go.” The copy editor in me wants to cringe when I hear these lyrics, but the dancer in me can’t help but sing along to them.

Like writing, singing and dancing help us put to words what we might not otherwise be able to articulate. It’s the beauty of expression that helps us describe who we are and who we want, or don’t want, to be.  

Next on my list: Become a better salsa dancer. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/29/arts/dance/29bloo.html

What’s your theme song/dance?

Published by Mallary Tenore Tarpley

Mallary is a mom of two young kiddos -- Madelyn and Tucker. Mallary absolutely loves being a mom and often writes about the need to find harmony when juggling motherhood and work. Mallary is the Assistant Director of the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas at the University of Texas at Austin, where she manages the Center's various programs related to distance learning, freedom of expression, and digital journalism. Previously, she was Executive Director of Images & Voices of Hope and Managing Editor of The Poynter Institute’s media news site, Poynter.org. Mallary grew up outside of Boston and graduated from Providence College in Rhode Island. In 2015, she received a certificate in nonprofit management from Duke University. She now lives in beautiful Austin, Texas, with her kids, husband Troy and cat Clara. She's working on a memoir, slowly but surely. You can reach her at mjtenore@gmail.com.

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