Can I Have This Dance?

Can I Have This Dance?

Why Dancing Should Be the Expectation Instead of the Exception.

Dancing. When your hear that word, what is the first image that pops into your head? Fist-pumping at a concert? A choreographed hip-hop routine? A graceful ballet concert? Most likely, the picture in your head does not involve any form of partner dancing (ballroom, swing, salsa). While all types of dancing are fun and wonderful ways of expressing oneself, I believe that partner dancing is an especially unique and effective tool for doing so. Unfortunately, it is a dying artform in modern American society. Earlier in our history, the great majority of people knew at least the basics of partner dancing. In fact, this kind of dancing was almost an expectation. Now, however, the great majority of people have never even attempted a partner dance (excluding the awkward swaying that occurs at high school prom), and thus, it has become the exception. I propose that we reverse this shift in our attitude towards partner dancing. Why? Well, below are just a few reasons! Hopefully, after reading them, you will understand how much better life would be if we all knew how to dance together!

  1. Partner dances are good, clean fun! Every spring, my old high school holds something called the Big Band Dance, which is basically a swing dance with cheesecake, dancing lessons, and 4-hours of live jazz music. I have attended the dance 5 times now (alumni are always welcome to come back), and it is hands down one of my favorite nights of the year. I love learning how to dance with old friends, laughing as we experiment with the new moves, and I love the light-hearted atmosphere. Unlike homecoming or prom, there is no trace of alcohol or sexual activity on the dance floor, and it still seems as if everyone is genuinely enjoying themselves. In our society, where drugs, alcohol, and sex are much too pervasive, we are in desperate need of more public events like the Big Band Dance. I imagine a world where people of all ages crowd the dance floors every weekend, ready to have good, clean fun together! In my opinion, this would make life much more eventful and enjoyable.
  2. Partner dancing is a fun and effective way to exercise. To be honest, I really hate running, along with most other mainstream forms of exercising. I find it boring and painful, and I try to avoid it as much as I can. However, I still want to stay in shape; thus, I am quite grateful for the fact that dancing constitutes as exercising. All types of dancing get the heart pumping in a fun way, but there is a unique component of partner dancing that makes it an especially good workout. You see, when you are dancing by yourself, you can give less effort or even stop dancing whenever you start to feel tired, and nobody will notice much (unless you are performing)! However, when you are dancing with someone else, you must keep dancing and trying your best because your partner is counting on you! Partner dancing is a balancing act. Both participants need to give the same amount of effort and must be equally engaged in the dance in order for it to work. Thus, if you start to slack off a little because you are tired, your partner will know, the balance will tip, and your dance will lose its momentum, rhythm, and enthusiasm. If you have never danced with a partner before, you may not believe me, but I can assure you that I am speaking from experience. Whenever I finish dancing with someone else, my lungs are burning and my heart is beating so quickly that I feel as if I just ran a mile. I know that I couldn’t have crossed the finish line if I hadn’t been with my partner, who was counting on me and who gave me the motivation to continue.
  3. Partner dancing can strengthen connections between people. Partner dancing can improve the relationships that we have with romantic partners, friends, strangers, acquaintances, family members, and even enemies. There are a great deal of reasons for this, and I have explained some below.

First, partner dancing requires eye-contact, which is unfortunately lacking in a society full of cellphones and computer screens. When you truly look into someone’s eyes, I believe that you are reminded of his/her humanity, and thus, you are more likely to treat that person with empathy and kindness (two necessary components of a healthy relationship).

Second, partner dancing requires you to respectfully touch and draw near to another person. Once again, this is quite rare in a society where wide personal bubbles are encouraged and the concept of touching another human being is almost always over-sexualized. However, it is important to realize that no matter how uncomfortable it may make you feel, proximity to another human being is essential for strong connections. By allowing someone to come close to you, you are showing that person that you trust and intend to respect him/her.

Third, partner dancing requires teamwork! You may know all of the steps to a certain dance, but your partner may have never touched a dance floor before in his/her life. You can’t just start dancing and expect your partner to pick it up immediately! No matter how much experience you or your partner may have, you must work through the moves together, laugh as you make mistakes, be patient with one another, and teach and listen to each other. Eventually, you and your partner will be dancing as one unit! This teamwork is not only important on the dance floor, but it is also necessary for success in our everyday relationships.

Fourth, partner dancing allows you to express your thoughts and feelings in a unique and creative way to another human being. In the song “One Step Closer” from The Little Mermaid musical, some of the last lines state, “dancing is a language that is felt instead of heard, but it says much more than language ever could.” I completely agree with this! Dancing is a wonderful tool for communication, and communication is a key component of any kind of relationship.

Lastly, partner dancing can make a relationship unique! No two pairs dance the same. In other words, you will dance differently with each person that you decide to take to the dance floor based on his/her personality, experience, and connection to you! Thus, whenever you see one of your dance partners, you can be reminded of the one-of-a-kind dance style that you share with him/her. It may not seem like much, but it can deepen your ties with that individual and give you memories of him/her that you will never have with anyone else.

4. Partner dancing teaches life lessons. This may sound strange, but it is absolutely true! For example, whenever you are dancing with someone else, there is a certain rhythm of giving and taking that you must get used to. You give your partner your trust, and he/she will take that trust and give you an opportunity to try a risky new dance step. Your partner gives you energy, and you can take that energy and give him/her the momentum needed to spin into your arms. Life requires this giving and taking as well. If you receive a certain gift or talent (food, intelligence, love, musicality), your duty is to take it and then use it in order to give back to others. For example, if a soldier dies to give us freedom, we must take and use that freedom to give basic human rights to all people. Besides this valuable lesson, dancing teaches how to go with the flow, how to let inhibitions fall, how to live in the moment, and how to take have courage and take chances (because what takes more courage than asking someone to dance?).

I encourage you to start making dancing the expectation instead of the exception! It is a wonderful artform, and we need to do all that we can to keep it alive in our society. It can add enjoyment and excitement to anyone’s life, and I truly believe that it can create more connected, well-rounded, and healthy individuals in this world. So, what are you waiting for? Find a place in your town that teaches salsa lessons, watch YouTube videos on how to do the foxtrot, have your friends over to practice the tango, and keep your eyes open for announcements about local swing dances. You can help start a dancing revolution! It all simply starts with one question: can I have this dance?
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​An Open Letter To The People Who Don’t Tip Their Servers

This one's for you.

Dear Person Who Has No Idea How Much The 0 In The “Tip:" Line Matters,

I want to by asking you a simple question: Why?

Is it because you can't afford it? Is it because you are blind to the fact that the tip you leave is how the waiter/waitress serving you is making their living? Is it because you're just lazy and you “don't feel like it"?

Is it because you think that, while taking care of not only your table but at least three to five others, they took too long bringing you that side of ranch dressing? Or is it just because you're unaware that as a server these people make $2.85 an hour plus TIPS?

The average waiter/waitress is only supposed to be paid $2.13 an hour plus tips according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

That then leaves the waiter/waitress with a paycheck with the numbers **$0.00** and the words “Not a real paycheck." stamped on it. Therefore these men and women completely rely on the tips they make during the week to pay their bills.

So, with that being said, I have a few words for those of you who are ignorant enough to leave without leaving a few dollars in the “tip:" line.

Imagine if you go to work, the night starts off slow, then almost like a bomb went off the entire workplace is chaotic and you can't seem to find a minute to stop and breathe, let alone think about what to do next.

Imagine that you are helping a total of six different groups of people at one time, with each group containing two to 10 people.

Imagine that you are working your ass off to make sure that these customers have the best experience possible. Then you cash them out, you hand them a pen and a receipt, say “Thank you so much! It was a pleasure serving you, have a great day!"

Imagine you walk away to attempt to start one of the 17 other things you need to complete, watch as the group you just thanked leaves, and maybe even wave goodbye.

Imagine you are cleaning up the mess that they have so kindly left behind, you look down at the receipt and realize there's a sad face on the tip line of a $24.83 bill.

Imagine how devastated you feel knowing that you helped these people as much as you could just to have them throw water on the fire you need to complete the night.

Now, realize that whenever you decide not to tip your waitress, this is nine out of 10 times what they go through. I cannot stress enough how important it is for people to realize that this is someone's profession — whether they are a college student, a single mother working their second job of the day, a new dad who needs to pay off the loan he needed to take out to get a safer car for his child, your friend, your mom, your dad, your sister, your brother, you.

If you cannot afford to tip, do not come out to eat. If you cannot afford the three alcoholic drinks you gulped down, plus your food and a tip do not come out to eat.

If you cannot afford the $10 wings that become half-off on Tuesdays plus that water you asked for, do not come out to eat.

If you cannot see that the person in front of you is working their best to accommodate you, while trying to do the same for the other five tables around you, do not come out to eat. If you cannot realize that the man or woman in front of you is a real person, with their own personal lives and problems and that maybe these problems have led them to be the reason they are standing in front of you, then do not come out to eat.

As a server myself, it kills me to see the people around me being deprived of the money that they were supposed to earn. It kills me to see the three dollars you left on a $40 bill. It kills me that you cannot stand to put yourself in our shoes — as if you're better than us. I wonder if you realize that you single-handedly ruined part of our nights.

I wonder if maybe one day you will be in our shoes, and I hope to God no one treats you how you have treated us. But if they do, then maybe you'll realize how we felt when you left no tip after we gave you our time.

Cover Image Credit: Hailea Shallock

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Social Media Can Bridge The Gap Of Communication Between The Two Genders

We have small devices hidden in the back pockets of our jeans that give us access to billions of users across the Internet, and all it takes is one post to spark a revolution.


You spend time at least once a week going through your social feed. You even spend time once a day going through your social feed.

There is a power in the words you speak and post online, and these very words can impact others' lives, negatively or positively. As an example, according to the Huffington Post, women are met with being "…ignored, trivialized, or criticized by men…" online mainly because the rift between the two genders prevents proper communication.

Gender equality can be achieved by online engagement, or posting. In some cases, though, the opposite can be true. I personally love Instagram and will occasionally find myself scrolling through posts recommended by the platform itself simply so I can waste time and complain about that later. A few weeks ago, I happened to be relapsing into my Instagram addiction and found myself particularly drawn to a certain post by Rowan Blanchard, which had a caption reading that "Cis men are violent and dangerous and until numbers prove [her] wrong [she] won't be able to not make statements that can't be read as vague."

Now, MSNBC identifies activism today as "…easier than ever…" thanks to social media, with "…[facilitated] public dialogues and… a platform for awareness…," but the caption of Blanchard's post shown is not activism at its finest. In a brief synopsis, activist Rowan Blanchard, who you may know from the show "Girl Meets World," addresses her distaste for men, going so far as to generalizing them as dangerous. In my opinion, this is one step backward in the fight for equality rather than a step forward.

Men and women alike have our differences that we consistently brush over in angry online comments but never truly sit down and discuss. The presence of a civil conversation between members of opposing sides of the gender argument is astonishing, and I myself have never seen one online. These conversations act like haunting illusions of a future we can only dream of, as if such a situation is purely unattainable otherwise.

We fawn over the thought, calling ourselves servants at the hands of a society where men and women can join each other and claim that there is no reason to feel unequal. The idea is breathtaking, and the friendships between men and women would be endless. Unfortunately, modern-day social media displays misogyny, misandry, animosity and all forms of verbal destruction against both genders that I feel sorry to merely acknowledge.

Before I took a break from being active on social media, I used Instagram to showcase my thoughts on these issues. I found it compelling to have an audience of my close friends and acquaintances listening as I explained and rationalized about online sexism repeatedly.

Occasionally, the topic sparked up friendly conversation about disagreements, and being honest, I felt threatened by how unthreatening the discussion was. It was as if I was asking for a reason to feel angry, to feel offended, but I instead was met with the harsh reality that social media can allow engagement in normal conversation.

The culture that revolves around online discussion is brash and led by emotion rather than by statistics, and while Blanchard may claim that she wants precise statistics before she alters her position against men, many online still fail to recognize the validity of such numbers. Her use of a hasty generalization clearly shows the lack of structure within her argument; I may be solely pointing her out, but her rationale stands as an example of the obstacles we face in the path to gender equality.

MSNBC used Twitter demographics to explain the impact of current events revolving around gender debates on the amount of discussion about sexism, and the results show that social media holds power. It holds hope and determination and serves as a pathway to a society where we may be able to hold hands and know we have no fear of being inferior to one another. Our generation is accustomed to seeing this magnitude of a response online, but when imagining every person who tweeted about this, there is potential change that we can visualize.

We have small devices hidden in the back pockets of our jeans that give us access to billions of users across the Internet, and all it takes is one post online to go viral. Within minutes, we can reach out to hundreds or thousands of people, updating them about our lives. With the ability to contact an enormous number of people, the only question you are left to ask yourself is, "How will you bring about a positive change to social equality?"

Your response to this question is being awaited every moment of your life.

Disclaimer: Please note that this has been a speech previously submitted as an assignment in a class.

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