The music was good, the décor was fancy, and the people were having fun.
My only complaint is that “Hotline Bling” wasn’t played. In fairness to the DJ, I did show up 45 minutes late so the song could have been played before my arrival, in which case my only complaint is that “Hotline Bling” wasn’t played once every hour. Fortunately, Drake is a master of movement and his “Hotline Bling” choreography came in clutch during several other songs.
Even if the music hadn’t been popping, the other attendees would have been entertaining enough. There was one person who took masquerade to a whole new level by wearing a full zebra head. I feel close enough to my readers to tell you that I was strangely attracted to them - not because of the head, but because in spite of the head they were still tearing up the dance floor. Plus, mystery is sexy. It certainly added new meaning to the lyric “half animal, half man” from Shakira’s “Hips Don’t Lie” as well.
There was also a couple that bravely decided gender roles weren’t for them, the girl wearing a suit and the guy wearing a super cute black dress. It wasn’t even a big deal either. They came to have a good time, dressed in what made them comfortable, and everyone let them. Just some good, equal, progressive fun.
Don’t worry though, all the essential high school dance archetypes were present too. The white guy who is a little too good at dancing to rap songs. The one that makes you wonder exactly how many times he’s watched the music video for Silento’s “Watch Me (Whip and Nae Nae)”. You’ll always find him next to the guy whose shirt slowly gets more unbuttoned as the night goes on. He’ll tell you it’s because he’s too warm, but he always happens to have amazing abs as well. I’m not saying it’s on purpose, but I also don’t subscribe to the notion of fate. Although I do feel truly blessed to have seen several set of ripped abs under these circumstances, I do not think it was a coincidence they were on display. There’s also, of course, the guy wearing sunglasses purely for aesthetic reasons. The guy who says, “whoa” to the girl going a little too hard to “Anaconda”, and, the girl going a little too hard to “Anaconda” (which, on this particular night, happened to be me).
I was also aghast, but not surprised, by the amount of salmon (the color, no fish was served at the catering table). Salmon bowties, salmon checkered button-ups, even salmon pants. But those salmon pants were tailored to perfection, and the man in them could hit the bop like nobody’s business, so I wasn’t even mad about it.
There was a lot of clapping, never on beat, accompanied by the slightly ominous sound of people singing along to Iggy Azalea in unison. Fair amounts of jumping for no reason, along with the ever-popular practice of making hand gestures that don’t quite fit the genre of music being played.
I can definitively say it was one of the whitest events I’ve ever attended…and I’ve been to three One Direction concerts. But, One Direction concerts are amazing, because watching people unabashedly exist in a space of genuine happiness is a special thing – and the Honors Formal captured this same feeling.
A few years ago, I might have considered wearing a zebra head to a dance a bit of an attention grab. But now I just applaud the confidence it took. I even had some “Another Cinderella Story” fantasies about him dropping his phone on the dance floor before disappearing into the sweaty mass just as I bend down to pick it up, and me having to find my masked lover based on clues in his contacts.
In times past, I might have watched the guy with his shirt nearly off with disdain, appalled by his lack modesty. But now I watch with a smile on my face, because anyone that unafraid to love himself and find his own joy is inspiring to me. I think I might be able to reach his level of confidence someday, if I ever find someone to look at me with as much love as his girlfriend looked at him with.
As I danced away a particularly rough week, the freedom I felt served as a reminder of how far I’ve come on my journey towards self-love and happiness. And every time I paused to fix my hair or see who might be watching, I was reminded that I still have a long ways to go. I’m just glad I get to make this journey surrounded by a bunch of nerds who love to dance.