Going dancing is something that I have come to enjoy enormously. There are two reasons why this is perhaps unusual. Firstly I don’t drink, and for a lot of people this seems to be a prerequisite to having fun in this way. And secondly both kinds of nerds I associate with a lot, the philosophy nerds in Balliol that don’t seem to be in many other places, and the more standard kind of nerds who like things like maths and StarCraft, tend to really dislike these sorts of environments.

The cliche to dance like no-one is watching definitely applies to me. This leads to the amusement of others in two ways. Firstly I imagine I look out of place, since they are used to just seeing me being enthusiastic about going to a lecture or something, so it’s fun to surprise people from time to time (this of course wears off with time). Secondly I tend to go a bit crazy when actual dance music comes on. It feels like the entire universe likes rubbishy rnb and hiphop, which are just too slow, so when some fast dance comes on, however trashy dance it may be, I go mad for the duration of the track and start smiling a lot and taking up far too much room. People tend to find this pretty funny, myself included.

Here’s something else amusing: I am completely useless at responding to people attempting to dance with me in whatever way. From someone with no apparent self-conciousness at all I suddenly become awkward because I just don’t know the etiquette I suppose. People try to teach me the response—when we do this hand motion, you are supposed to do this—which is fun, but my knowledge remains minimal.

Of course this is only something I have been doing for the past eight months or so. This is very atypical for a student. Basically I didn’t know that it was fun and I never found out because for so long I was afraid of alcohol. This is the reason I originally decided not to drink. Over time I realised that it’s not so frightening, but kept my not drinking partly out of habit but also because I realised that I didn’t need it to have fun, so, not really any reason to start. Now a problem here is that I lack the social connections to go dancing[1] regularly so I recently asked a friend, “take me out dancing when you go!”, and she said she would, so that’s nice.

To environments. Bops, which are fancy-dress student discos that many Oxford colleges run, are a lot of fun because you know basically everyone in the room (though this year now that there are loads of unfriendly freshers this isn’t so much the case). The main problem with bops is that both the sound tech and the playlists are generally really bad (except when I’m doing a set of course…). So of course clubs are the alternative. If you go to a club with a group of Balliol friends you can sort of isolate yourselves from the less pleasant aspects of the place, these unpleasant aspects being firstly the fact that you’re in a place trying to make lots of money before anything else; secondly the weird authoritarianism of bouncers (though you can understand why they do it) and thirdly, and worst of all, the masses of guys trying to pull, leering from the sidelines. You can sort of see why people might want to drink to push these things out.

The place of clubbing in Balliol’s culture is strange. Firstly ‘going out’ means exclusively this: there is very little interest in bars etc. Also people who don’t particularly like it find it very hard to admit this straight up because if you do there is a level at which you can’t connect to everyone else; we’re not talking “you’re uncool”, since we’re a little more grown up than that here, it’s more a sense of “you’re different from me, that’s cool, but it’s going to remain a barrier between us”. Instead of saying that they’re not keen you hear people saying things like “I’m sure no-one likes clubbing, I’m sure it’s just a shared experience of it being horrible”. In my case, it’s definitely the case that the lack of alcohol still disconnects me from some others, which is a bit sad.

Here’s something else that is nice. Despite the fact that girls are wearing less, I find any sexual desire I might normally have for individuals disappears completely on the dance floor. I suppose this is because the only activity of that nature going on is repulsive attempts to take advantage of drunkenness, as I have noted above, so the thought are switched off as irrelevant, or something like this. Also my mind is very occupied with music and friends—attractive girls in the library is the worst thing because they do not have to be very attractive at all to be distracting: any opportunity to be distracted one’s brain tends to take up. Basically I manage to see attractive people—by looking at the expressions on their faces—rather than just attractive bodies, and it’s great to be free from a certain amount of objectification that I know I am guilty of.

So it’s great to be able to spread the super upbeat enthusiasm I frequently bring to academic stuff and to nerd stuff to something else, and to be able to get so much out of it without alcohol. I hope to do much more of this.

[1] I like this ‘go dancing’ phrase because it indicates the thing I’m interested in. But I appreciate it’s a really pretentious phrase.