Disclaimer: This is the first of an occasional series of posts with no business purpose whatsoever. If you’re interested in business, marketing, and copywriting, but not interested how I won a dance contest at a teacher convention, then you’ll want to skip this.
I spent last week at Havi Brooks’ Destuckification Retreat, but I’m not going to talk about that here. (You’d be reading 150 pages about epiphanies and conversations with Monster, the three-inch-tall, stuffed monster who lives in a fire station in the front of my head.) Instead, this post tells the story of what happened the night before the retreat, when I managed to win a dance contest at a teachers convention at this hotel by the airport.
By the way, did you know teachers have dance contests at their conferences? I guess it’s one of those secrets we were never meant to discover.
I don’t usually crash teacher conferences. But my teacher-friend was in town, so my dance partner and I drove down to see her. (Yes, I have a dance partner. Yes, this is his full-time job.)
In the elevator on the way up to my friend’s room, we were joined by a quiet, gray-haired man (8th-grade-social-studies?). He looked set to retire for the evening, with a green canvas conference bag in one hand and a Corona with lime in the other. Two older ladies with their own green conference bags got on just as the doors were closing. “Nightcap?” they said. Everyone laughed knowingly, as if this was just the beginning of the debauchery about to unfold.
When my teacher-friend informed us there was a buffet and a dance party taking place downstairs, I knew we had to be there.
Luckily, I had come prepared with Saran-wrapped Stilton cheese and an apple—just in case someone asked for teacher ID. My teacher-friend said it would also help if one of us was carrying a water bottle. I decided to risk it and just go with the cheese. To me, being a teacher is a mindset. Something you inhabit from within.
We glided through the doors and into the ballroom as I repeated the mantra, “I am a teacher. I know all. I am powerful and wise. I belong.”
The dance party was just getting started. Teachers were beginning to flood the dance floor in their turtlenecks and high-waisted slacks. We watched them do the YMCA. We watched them do The Hustle and The Electric Slide. We even watched them do Thriller. It felt so wondrous, but adorable at the same time. Like coming upon a tribe of lions doing calisthenics.
Then a slow Journey song came on, and everyone evacuated the dance floor.
I realized we were the only people who didn’t know anyone in a room full of people who all kind of knew each other—and no one would ever see us again. It was like dance amnesty!
My dance partner and I raced over to the completely empty dance floor. We danced more badly to that song than we had ever danced before. Epileptically. You know the Journey song that goes from slow to fast? It was that song. By the end of the song, I could feel hundreds of teacher-eyes watching us, questioning, wondering. ‘What subject do THEY teach? Why are they dancing TOGETHER?’
Just when I thought I couldn’t dance any longer, the DJ (11th grade biology teacher?) walked up and thrust a home-made CD into my hands. Just the CD—no cover.
“Congratulations!!!!” he said. “You won the dance contest!!!!”
As soon as we won the dance contest (I’ve always wanted to say that), I decided we should quit while we were ahead. We couldn’t risk it. Plus, we needed to give the real teachers a chance.
We walked out of the ballroom as I repeated the mantra that had brought me this far. “I am a teacher. I know all. I am powerful and wise. I belong.” We escaped, undetected.
Strolling through the hotel that evening, basking in the soft glow of the words “dance contest winners!!!”, we would pass teachers, their gazes lingering in recognition. We were famous—but only for one night! Which is the best kind of fame there is.
Is this conference the highlight of every teacher’s year, professionally? It was definitely the highlight of mine (so what if it’s only February?)—and the perfect way to spend a night before a perfectly destuckified retreat.