The music was loud and saying hello or anything would have been silly. But we knew. So we didn’t say anything and just danced. We looked into each others eyes as if we were revealing a secret to each other we’d been clamoring to discover all night long. We’ll run where lights can’t chase us. I will never let you go. There, on the Hudson River’s Pier 84 with strobe lights crackling and young bodies jaggering under an inviting summer sunset, was a silent understanding between us. We were going to give this moment everything our bodies could give with each other alongside the other.
And then the next song started playing and I walked away.
Without so much of a goodbye or a handshake or a kiss on the cheek, I hopped to a nearby railing where I could flail my arms playing the air-keyboard. Alone.
I didn’t feel guilty. She could have been lying to me just as I could have been lying to her. I ended the pretense and let her go when the song ended. We weren’t going to go anywhere. We just needed someone for the four or so minutes Zedd dictated . I hope she say it that way.
Which is not to say I haven’t fallen in love on the dance floor before.
There was that time at Black Cat Pussy Cat. West Fourth, as places go, tend to bring out Brooklynites who secretly fantasize about rooftops in Meatpacking. I enjoy it. There she was. She was my kind of woman in every where I’d want be. Soft. Tall. Curly haired. With skin as if every color surrounding the Mediterranean had been jumbled up and put into one gloriously tan shade. Genuinely interested in dancing and good enough not to feel self-conscious about it. She was with goodlooking, fashion forward types. The kinds who wear glasses even though they probably don’t need glasses but it makes them look like Kid Cudi. They weren’t dancing. So this woman danced with me.
This was three years ago, when my motto: Don’t be the best dancer, be the dancer having the most fun, was in full effect. There would be no reason to dance with me unless this motto inspired you. She liked dancing with me which means she was fun.
When the night was over, we hugged and I learned my lesson:don’t get attached. Which is not an easy lesson to learn. For months after, if given the chance, I’d go back to that spot, just for the possibility to see my first favorite dancer. A teacher once told our class how a part of our soul leaves us with every new sexual partner. I can’t confirm or deny that. But on the dance floor? Without question.
Three weeks ago, the legendary Questlove spun above the spawling dancefloor below. He knew his audience. Just because Michael Jackson is a can’t miss play doesn’t mean it can be played any time. But once the free sponsored booze took played and we’d all shaken enough limbs to not feel crowded about it, I gravitated toward a pretty girl and we danced.
P.Y.T started to play. It’s euphoric. The night was euphoric. We were all young in the greatest city in the world enjoying a night we didn’t have to pay for and we did so together. I wanna love you, Pretty Young Thing. Over and over and in that moment there’s no reason to argue or fight it. I sing along and those around us cleared some space for us to me. I wanna love you. . . until the song played. And then I left.
“Why don’t you go talk to her?” My friends asked. But the answer what obvious. We had nothing to talk about. Because when music and movement meet, there’s nothing more to ask for.
But I can’t remember my own advice sometimes. I found myself on a rooftop at Meatpacking Sunday. I was working, promoting a bullshit dating application to a Saturday afternoon crowd unwilling to let Saturday night go. There were Russians. Uninterested in online dating and the “unconfident” types who used it. They explained they get hit on all the time. I didn’t doubt it.
Inga and Eva. They were Russian in all the ways one would suspect a Russian to be: coldly beautiful, abrasively direct. In the years I’ve spent patroning such places, they were the kinds I wouldn’t ever speak to. They were the kinds of women who were skinny and waited for someone else to buy their drinks. I know my demographic. Inga and Eva weren’t it. I shook their hands and wished them well. Stopping by again only to meet their two friends from Belgium. Inga, the ringleader, told her visitors what we did with a cold smile.
But then the music started. A predictable mix of house music played for a crowd that predictably liked house music. But it’s still music and there were still beautiful women and there was Inga. Exactly where she needed to be, in the center of the dance floor. I joined her. And I started dancing.
My dancing isn’t particularly good. Except that it seems good to people who don’t know good dancing. I enjoy dancing. Inga did too. And so there was I, in a place I didn’t belong dancing with a woman who clearly forgot that I wasn’t the kind of person who she’d ever associate with. But if there’s a superficiality to rooftop clubs, there’s an earnestness that brings us there. It is revealed through dancing and Inga, for all her Russian stoicness, didn’t mind making that clear.
“At least you are good at dancing.” She said like a Bond villainness. The more we’d spoken that night, the more I’d realized that her dryness was actually her being humorous. Through her accent, I couldn’t tell.
I’ve never thought about a Russian. I don’t particularly like Don’t You Worry Child. Collectively, we only danced for about fifteen minutes. But that didn’t matter.
I left sooner than she, or I, seemed to have wanted. I kissed her on the cheek and told her I’d write a story about her. She asked me what I’d call it. I said I didn’t know. That was a life. Never Fall in Love on the Dance Floor.