Panic on the dance floor

It’s time to solicit some crucial advice from the combined wisdom of readers.

The question is – should I go to my 30 year school reunion?

Yes, 30 years! Apparently that’s how long it’s been since I was lying around languidly in an asphalt courtyard at lunchtimes, discussing boys, or INXS, (specifically Michael Hutchence) or teachers, or who was at the nightclub last Saturday night and who’s going this Saturday.

When the time came for the 10 year reunion, I didn’t go – not through any deliberate desire to avoid it, but because I had an exhibition opening the same evening, if you don’t mind. Why yes, those were the days when I was a twenty-something artist.

When the next one (20 years) came around, I didn’t go because, well, I hadn’t been to the 10 year reunion, and by the 20 year mark I’d basically fallen out of contact with every single person I’d been friends with at high school. I’ve written about this before, but it seems that I haven’t tended to retain friends for a lifetime as some people do. Instead it seems that by mutual agreement in some cases, or not in others, I lose contact with people and move on and make new friends so that I end up having a past series of friends who are associated with specific periods of my life. This has worked ok so far, but I do hope I’ll start retaining friends for longer, because I can see that opportunities to make new friends become less as you get older.

Anyway, when the 20-year reunion came along, I was a 30-something, working in the arts. Working in the arts sounds less glamorous than being an artist, but in the end it suits me better to be doing practical tasks that contribute towards the creation of art (theatre) by a company, and for that reason, I feel satisfied. Sure I’m creative, and, oh boy, do I love ideas! – why, I can ramble on about them for hours, as this blog proves! – but it turns out I’m not very good at self promotion, or at staying focussed and motivated when left to drive myself along to develop abstract concepts into physical works of art. I’m easily overwhelmed by broad, undefined goals.  “Continue to develop a body of ideas and work that may end up being exhibited, or may simply be research and development towards your whole oeuvre” was a little too vague to help me decide what to do from day to day as I attempted to produce work in my studio.

But back to the looming 30-year reunion. This is happening in the near future, a time when I’m a 40-something, still working in the arts. (At least there has been some consolidation on the career front then.) I am still not in touch with anyone from school apart from two people that I am now Facebook Friends with. Of those two, I’ve caught up once, in person, with one of those people.

So basically, attending the reunion means attending an event where I don’t know anyone very well, but sort of know everyone just a little bit. In my opinion, for a shy, introverted extrovert (that is a self-diagnosis), this is far worse than attending an event where everyone is a complete stranger. And finally, even worse again, some are people I used to be close friends with, who dropped out of contact about 20 years ago.

Now, if you are not a massive extrovert, it’s actually hard to socialise with people you know just a little bit. An event full of strangers is preferable. If everyone is a stranger, you can wander around on your own, making it obvious that you are alone and don’t know anyone, and hope that some of those strangers will notice your plight, and converse with you out of courtesy, or pity. (As they are strangers, it doesn’t really matter which.) And, if they don’t, you can cut your losses and leave without any real loss of dignity or hurt to your feelings.

At an event where everyone knows who you are, but you are not close chums with anyone, you sidle around the outskirts of chatting groups of people, smiling and hoping someone you’ve met before will take pity on you and make eye contact so that you feel welcome to edge your way into their little group, and pretend to take an immediate and passionate interest in whatever topic they are discussing, even if it’s the renovation they are doing to the ensuite in their holiday house.

And if no-one makes any attempt to give you an opening, then you’ll probably slink away early and – YEAH YOU BET your feelings will be hurt and your dignity will sink to a new low!

(As a self-diagnosed “introverted extrovert,” by the way, I’m not a totally hopeless case socially. My self esteem in general is quite ok – certainly a hundred times healthier than when I was a high school student – and I LIKE socialising with friends – but it’s easily trampled on in a situation like this.)

Ok, it’s pretty obvious that I’m wavering on the side of not going.

But let’s get down to the real issue here. Surely the only question that matters is – will the music be good?

Because I do love dancing, as I think we’ve covered in previous posts.

So much so that, despite fear of not being able to make small-talk, and the possible humiliation of scuttling around the edges of the function room on my own all night, the possibility of dancing could, in itself, be a temptation to go! In the unlikely event that the music was good, if it turned out to be the worst case scenario where I was milling around with no-one to talk to –  I could just join the dance floor!

(That is, of course, only if at least 12 other people were already dancing, as I am too self-conscious to jump up alone, or when there are only two extraverts doing the bumpsy-daisy together out there.) But if there’s enough people dancing for me to blend somewhere into the middle of the crowd, then I can lose that self-consciousness and dance the night away, or at least until Working Class Man* comes on.

But sadly, it seems unlikely that the music would be good. I say this because my generation’s musical taste has forever, and quite erroneously, been labelled as Seventies disco in some kind of timewarp that wasn’t accurate. Although we were indeed alive in days of 1970s disco, we were in nappies, and then pre-school, and then the early years of primary school for most of that decade and were therefore more interested in what was playing on the Looney Tunes cartoon hour on TV than what was playing at Studio 54. I have never even seen Saturday Night Fever. Maybe this explains a lot about me, but to put it bluntly, I have no emotional connection with Seventies disco, which was the music most frequently played at school fundraising events I attended as a parent at my daughter’s school.

At an event where a selection of music is to be played for my personal entertainment, ideally I would request a good dose of music from the 80s, 90s, 2000s, and 2010s (or whatever the current era is known as). Anyone taking notes at home may include music from the Seventies too, by all means, but please make it punk, or folk, or rock, or Motown, just not that over-played Seventies disco.

Despite the stereotyped notion of parents as a particular breed of adults whose musical taste stays rooted in the nostalgic past, I have always enjoyed discovering new music. That includes discovering music from the past that I hadn’t listened to at the time. But official events of any sort usually opt for safe choices with music, on the premise of pleasing the majority, and safe, for my generation, seems to be to play the music that was playing on the dance floors when we were learning our multiplication tables and how to write in cursive.

Of course we all think our own musical taste is superior to everyone else’s, don’t we?**

In the end, I should thank you for your input, dear readers, because as I’ve been writing this post, I’ve come to the only conclusion that seems obvious, and will avoid the need to make small talk AND ensure the music will be good.

I won’t attend my school’s 30-year reunion unless I can DJ.

*

 

*Working Class Man is a song by well known Australian Band Cold Chisel. I’m clearly a bit of a snobby purist when it comes to what music I am willing to dance to, and it’s my personal opinion that this song should never come anywhere near a dance floor, but when I was growing up in the country, the djs were less picky, and it usually did come on at about 3am, signalling to me that it was cattle-call time at the meat market, and a good time to go home.

**(Or is that just me?)

***Update: thanks to those who said I must go and then write about it here. I didn’t see you offering to accompany me and pretend to be someone everyone else had forgotten. If only I’d thought of that earlier. Airline tickets could have been arranged.

Anyway, the reunion happened, I didn’t attend, and I don’t think there was ANY music at all. It was a daytime tour of the school that so many of us were thrilled to leave at the time, and then a luncheon. How alarmingly sedate. And how demanding of small talk!! I think I made the right choice, so I thank you all again.

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8 Comments

  1. A fair deal. Moves for grooves. But, should that pitch fail to pass, I urge you to go purely for my own selfish interest – the resulting blog post! I’ll pay you with rare copies of one-hit wonders from the ’80s if I had to. To me, school reunions, are like basements – the best ones are in American films. Remember John Cusask holding the baby aloft at his in Grosse Point Blank? I will give you a copy of Billy Joel b-sides if you play Under Pressure and Mirror In The Bathroom back-to-back. Have fun!

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    • Oh dear, I’ve not so far managed to see Grosse Point Blank! Maybe you could pay me with a copy of that, if I make it to the reunion! I like John Cusack, High Fidelity is one of my top 50 favourite films.

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  2. P.S. Love these teeny wee glimpses into your past and present. The arts – one of my favourite broad terms where everyone should belong.

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    Reply
    • Why thank you. What an encouraging comment, re the “wee glimpses”! I try to keep it broad for reasons of anonymity, as you know that otherwise my public would be outside the house 24/7 along with the paparazzi, and I’m too fragile to cope with that relentless attention, plus we live in a narrow, one-way street so they’d be blocking traffic.

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  3. You should totally go. I think it’s an opportunity for a surreal and bizarre experience – a chance to see yourself again at age 16, through the eyes of others. No matter what your opinion of yourself at age 16, you will see something new.
    And if your are nervous, feel free to make up a totally fabulous life story, in fact I insist on that part. 🙂

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    Reply
    • Lovely to hear from you, Tandi! I think you’ve touched on the real issue – my memory is that, at 16, I was painfully shy & immature & had low self esteem…it’s not tempting to want to see myself that way again despite your promise of discovering something new! Are you still blogging? Last time I checked you hadn’t updated your blog for a while.

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  4. As you answer your own question at the end, you probably don’t need any input from me. However, I would say that as you have evinced no interest in getting in touch with these people for 30 years then you are unlikely to have any real desire to do so now. If you did go, the result is likely to be boredom or disappointment or a mixture of both.

    I left my own secondary school with nary a glance backwards. In fact, I was glad to leave and wrote myself a note to that effect. Latterly and by chance, I discovered an old-pupils’ site on the Internet and interacted with it for a while before the flush of enthusiasm waned and I dumped it. I did retain one contact from it, a fellow pupil (though I wasn’t even aware of his existence when we were at school) who, for some unaccountable reason, likes corresponding with me.

    Maybe you are the gregarious sort, in which case you might be able to make a go of an event where you meet people you once knew but who by now have changed beyond all recognition and with whom you no longer have anything in common. It wouldn’t work for me for I possess all the sociability of a mole and enjoy avoiding the few people I know.

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    • I can be very sociable when I’m in the right mood, and around the right people, but on the other hand, there are times when I wish my friends would leave me alone and not bother me with their pesky invitations to go out to dinner or see shows. That’s usually when I’m busy reading a good book or writing an edifying post right here on this blog. Mostly, when I drag myself away to these bothersome social events I do end up enjoying them, but I take your point about “making a go” of an event where I haven’t talked to people for 30 years. I think if I’m feeling trepidation before hand, that’s a sure sign that I’d have more fun if I stayed home and wrote a post about what might have happened instead!

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