Despite suggesting that attending a virtual dance party is one of the best digital dance activities for lockdown, I had been cautiously curious about the whole phenomenon. However, the Facebook event ad for Zoom Dance Club Classics Party to benefit the NHS persuaded me to join a digital dance party. After all, it was the least I can do to support the brave medical staff on the front line, caring for the nation’s sick. I arrived apprehensive, but I honestly had a blast. Here’s how the Zoom Dance party went down…
Honestly, who couldn’t resist the event description: “Lets [sic] Rave for the NHS!!!”
My First Zoom Dance Party
I enter the public digital dance space under a veil of secrecy: a pseudonym. I combine two very common names together, rather than announcing my real identity – with my rather distinct, double-barreled surname. But not only that, I creep into the party, obscured by darkness, to scope out the scene undetected. (This means I keep the laptop camera ‘window’ covered until I feel decently oriented.)
Approximately 75 minutes in, there are about 75 people present. Just under half chose to enter without video capabilities, so they’re relegated to the first two screens full of blacked out video boxes. As for everyone else? We watch each other, many with wine glasses perched next to our laptops. A few ignore the party and enjoy the tunes as background music to their card game tournaments. Every once in a while someone checks his/ her phone, and a young woman shows us (the party guests) off to someone on video chat.
Thankfully, most digital dance party attendees didn’t get too glam to log onto Zoom. I am at peace with the low-key vibe. But while make up and fashion were roundly ignored, attendees went all out on accessories and lighting. Dance party-goers wear sunglasses indoors (keep in mind, it’s 9:00pm), headbands with pom pons (attached to springy antennae) and goofy hats (like the neon orange squid, whose tentacles used to light up). And all the cool kids have disco lighting. I feel seriously unprepared at my in-laws.
It’s Time to Dance!
The dancing isn’t dancing, so much as public ‘show and tell.’ Parents place their children in front of the cameras and pet parents show off their furry friends. Other people drag out stuffed animals and puppets, animating their real object ‘avatars’ into dancers.
That’s it. I need to prepare. I raid my husband’s childhood toys and costume closet, returning downstairs with a puffin hat and his ginormous stuffed giraffe named Windelfred. All in all, he is a good dance partner. I bounce from side to side, while simultaneously hiding behind his lovely spotted body with its bulbous belly. Next, I play peek-a-boo with the other attendees, rhythmically peeping out from either side and beneath his dangling legs as I hold him over head.
I receive no public compliments in the live text chat, so there’s a chance no one even noticed me being a dork on the live stream. But my husband was chuckling safely out of view. He even joined in for a little bit, animating Windelfred from off screen, so the giraffe could be my active dance partner. I did ditch Windelfred eventually, but bringing him to the Zoom Dance party was a good icebreaker. If you’re shy, I highly recommend this approach.
As the DJ came on and played songs that inspire my soul to dance (eg: Jagged Edge’s Where the Party At? and Beyonce’s Crazy in Love), I go for it. 100%. 101% maybe. I go so hard that I need to take the occasional breather. Or maybe I’m not going that hard, I’m just unfit. Either way, I pop down in front of the screen during to watch others and scroll through the chat. Sometimes I ‘pin’ a video to zoom in if I spy anything particularly interesting.
The Chat & Making Connections
My enthusiasm attracts a nice compliment from a stranger, Katie L, so I send her a secret message and she’s my confidante throughout. We privately question some of the DJ’s choices and agree that additional Bieber would work well after Despacito, since who doesn’t love dancehall vibes of Sorry or Cold Water? She and her family spend equal time feasting and dancing, and I think we could be friends in real life.
In an attempt to pay it forward, I give some public props, too. But I don’t really connect with anyone else in the public chat. I remain free from any flirty banter, and I would feel like such a phony if I joined in with the common affirmative phrase“tunessssss” (alternatively: “chooooooons”). Nope, I guess I’m not here to talk. I’m here to dance.
I spy a little girl waving her arms overhead, so I mirror her action, as if we were playing follow the leader. It ripples through a few more screens, and I keep an eye on her, not copying exactly – but mirroring with variations, instead. (Excuse me, as I go all dance/ movement therapy on you. This mirroring exercise allows the ‘leader to feel accepted and validated, and admittedly the little girl looks pretty pleased.)
Taking a Step Back
Once I’ve worked up a sweat and my dear husband summons me to continue our video game quest, I leave the music playing for him while I shower. We stay tuned in and mute the video game music while we level up our characters. The Zoom Party’s DJ sets are a welcome break after listening to the same few video game song clips on repeat for days.
Even though I give up dancing and sit on the couch with a gaming console in hand, I still exit the virtual dance party prior to the 1:00am closing time. I go to bed happy, thrilled with the great value entertainment. The small admission fee contributed a tiny amount to the NHS, broadcast uninterrupted tunes directly to us (sans commercial breaks) and temporarily united people in lockdown looking for a good time.
Sure, it’s slightly awkward at first, but get over your ego and invite your friends. Everybody, party on!
Check out this preview advertising the Zoom Dance Party for the NHS.
Have you attended an online virtual dance party since lockdown? Or did you host your own? Let us know about your digital dance party experiences in the comments below.