The Man Who Loved to Dance

He was a child of the 70s, and he loved to dance. In his youth, every Saturday night was at the local disco, and he could chew up the floor with the best of them. Travolta had nothing on him, not when it came to commanding attention under the mirror ball lights.

Then, suddenly, it wasnt the 70s anymore. He still went out on weekends to dance, but things had changed: the girls were younger, the music faster, the drinks weaker. But he went anyway, because he loved to dance. And during those moments on the dance floor, he was eighteen again, ready to take on the world. Not an office worker trapped in a nine-to-five cubicle, but — even if in his own mind — a star.

And then he wasnt a star at all, but a middle-aged man who, like the music he adored, had gone beyond “retro” and “classic” to “who put that crap on!?!” So he stopped going to the clubs and remained more and more within the safe, if unsatisfying, confines of his cubicle…

… where he could dance.

Every Friday night, after everyone else had left for the day and the cleaning ladies had finished their rounds, he turned up the stereo behind his desk and danced, to all of his friends, ABBA, the BeeGees, Gloria Gaynor. He danced till he couldnt dance anymore, then he would carefully turn out the lights and go home to his little apartment.

Then, one Friday night, he made a perfect Bus Stop turn and was shocked to see, in the building across the street, someone else dancing. A woman, near his age, as far as he could tell. But she too was dancing away in her cubicle, with her own music. She was doing a modified Hustle; he eased into the same steps. And she was watching him: she smiled and waved, and he waved back. They danced together for two hours, and he went home happier than he’d ever been.

The next Friday, the woman was there again, but now there were three more offices, on three different floors, with three more people dancing. All more or less his age, all putting their bodies through wild contortions — the Electric Slide, the Boogie Down — that not even age could deny in memory. The next week, he could see, in the reflections of the glass skyscraper, reflections of his own building, with now half a dozen more people, all dancing away, alone and yet together through the music. 

And before too much longer, it seemed the entire block was one huge dance party: scores, if not hundreds, of middle-aged office workers, all getting down in the night. It didnt matter if they were playing the same song or a hundred different ones — they just danced.

Then, just as quickly, they disappeared, one after another. And finally, one Friday night, he looked across the way: the woman’s office was dark. He sat there waiting for two hours. She never showed.

The following Friday, at 5:00 promptly, he put his dance CDs in the trash and went home.

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