Best of OWP: Dancing in Pink and Green

I thought I'd post the pieces of my portfolio for the Oregon Writing Project Summer Institute at Willamette University here, one piece per day, but due to a congenital lack of discipline it seems I'm posting them every other day. I hope someone enjoys these, gets a flavor for just how valuable the Oregon Writing Project was for me, and decides to check out their own local chapter of the National Writing Project. For your Friday the 13th pleasure, a horrific visual image inspired by the prompt to write about dancing.

Dancing in Pink and Green

Dancing, for me, has so often been about a mixture of feelings, fun and self-consciousness, curiosity and a sense that I am out of place. I remember the sixth grade dance when I attended a school where I was an ethnic minority. My mom bought me the most awful outfit. I can’t remember now if it was pastel green pants, a pink shirt, and a pastel green tie, or the reverse, but she thought it was something out of Miami Vice and would be really cool. So here I was, one of the few white kids, dressed in the worst clothes I’ve ever worn in my life, trying to copy the dances of my peers who knew all these moves I’d never even seen before. That sense of awkwardness is the feeling I associate with being white, more than anything else. When my friends got tired of laughing at me, they made a project of teaching me these dance moves, the kid’n’play, the bone breaker, the butterfly, the pop-n-lock, the kid’n’play 2 (yes, a dance move from a movie sequel), and by the end of the event (I think it happened during the school day, come to think of it) I was having so much fun and felt so included that I can almost forget the discomfort of those first few minutes. At one point, my friend Darius even expressed some admiration for the way I performed some move, and I still remember that to this day, though now I realize he was probably being kind, or perhaps mocking me in a way that was too subtle for me to get. Still, it gave me the confidence to keep going to dances at schools where I was one of the only white kids, and it gave me a sense of freedom to know I could make a fool of myself and never look quite as awkward as I did in those terrible clothes my mom bought.