Northwestern's annual Dance Marathon is an exciting time. Friendships are formed, memories are made and charities are helped. But those transcendent experiences of holding your friends and singing "Here Comes the Sun" together as yellow balloons rain down from the rafters Saturday morning come with a cost: 30 hours of demanding physical activity without any sleep, not to mention all the blood, sweat and tears that goes into fundraising.
A situation like this calls for role modelsl! These NBN writers all faced different travails during their dancing experiences, but overcame them with the help of powerful celebrities. Call them what you want: inspirations, heroes, spirit animals. Whatever you call them, their examples might be what you need to survive DM.
Andrew W.K. By Christian Holub
I guess I never really wanted to do Dance Marathon this year. I loved the DM experience last year, but it just wasn't in the cards this year.
Or so I told myself. It probably would've been better if I had thought of DM differently. There's a lot of words you can use to describe Dance Marathon (like "fundraiser" or "nightmare"), but the best is probably "party." I don't mean "party" in the way that word is typically invoked at college (dim lights, packed basements, cheap beer). No one's going to to puke or pee themselves at DM (barring untenable bathroom lines, I suppose).
DM is like a child's dream of partying, before that word was tainted by alcohol and sex: fun dancing with friends for a good cause (back in the days of childhood, you only partied for a good cause, like a birthday). DM is a party at its highest, purest form, the kind that would please the Gods of Partying.
In case you didn't know, there is a physical, incarnate God of Partying in America. His name is Andrew W.K., and he used to be the cultural ambassador to Bahrain. Just kidding, he's actually a musician who released one amazing song a decade ago extolling the virtues of partying and now maintains a pretty spectacular Twitter feed full of "Party Tips."
If only I had paid more attention to his "Party Tips," I might not have dropped out. Take heed, ambivalent DM participants: Ride your dreams like unicorns. That tweet sounds like it was written by a dancer in the middle of Block 7 as delirium finally sets in and the only energy source left is pure adrenaline. Unicorns don't need sleep, and neither do you.
Another common argument against participation in DM is the difficulty of fundraising. It can get cold standing on street corners in colorful costumes shaking cans for people's money. It can be tough when family members don't respond to your donation-seeking emails with requisite enthusiasm. But it's important to remember, as Andrew notes, that there's nothing better to spend money on than a party, and DM is the ultimate party (also that money goes to a really good cause, but more importantly, PARTY)!
Robyn By Zach Silva
Block 6. I was about to pass out after way too much Katy Perry and Rihanna (“Firework” for the fourth time?). All of a sudden, a pulsing beat and a familiar voice came through the speakers – a Swedish diva with the loud synths and powerful voice that can make anyone dance at anytime. I found myself suddenly energized and having the urge to dance like nobody’s watching, even as I was literally surrounded by more than a thousand strangers who wanted nothing more than to have peace and silence by this point. Suddenly, Robyn’s spirit had taken over my sweaty, near-lifeless body and had me doing crazy dance moves up until I got back to my dorm after the 30 hours were complete, sound asleep with visions of the pop star still dancing in my head.
Robyn is my Dance Marathon celebrity spirit animal not only because of her music’s ability to turn any location into a dance party, but also because of her upbeat attitude and crazy expressions that just inspired me to keep moving. Robyn is absolutely fearless on the dance floor. She’s got some killer dance moves: the Electric Slide, the backwards roll, the arm swinging – all done while in her trademark platform shoes and colorful, spandex pants. These are moves that I definitely resorted to at some point during Dance Marathon last year, and I recommend you add them to your arsenal as well. Better yet, when “Call Your Girlfriend” comes on, your rendition of her crazy dance solo will serve as an energizing boost to everyone, as your interpretation will have everyone looking on in awe. Personally, that song was the defining moment of Dance Marathon for me last year, allowing me to regain my composure and dance like Robyn does in the amazingly creative, yet simple music video. There were times when my dance moves, inspired by Robyn, were too much for others to handle. Furthermore, you can’t be afraid of what others will think of your dance moves because everyone ends up doing the two- step at some point. When all others are giving up on real dance moves and your friends are losing hope, don’t hesitate to keep dancing on your own and own the moment. Robyn taught me that DM is not only a collective effort, but it’s also a personal struggle that you can overcome with a little bit of the shimmy.
Her crazy expressions, YOLO dance moves and can-do attitude will help you survive Dance Marathon, like they helped me. Be the shining beacon of joy in the dark DM tent. Be Robyn.
Old Spice guys By Connor Sears
I have always had doubts about whether or not I would be physically and mentally ready to take on Dance Marathon. But if I had Isaiah Mustafa and Terry Crews at my back the whole time, there’d be no questions about my ability to rock out for 30 hours straight.
One of my biggest issues with Dance Marathon is the matter of confidence. Dancing for 30 hours in a hot, crowded tent doesn’t exactly do wonders for your self-esteem once you start the sweating, panting and looking generally unappealing. But things would turn out differently while channeling Isaiah Mustafa. Is that sweat dripping off my body? No, it’s crisp, clean spring water from my quick dip in the waters of the Amazon rainforest. Look down. Back at me. I’ve got two large Jamba Juice smoothies, even though they’re not in Norris anymore. Ladies, the line to dance with me starts to my left. You’ll notice it by the fact that it wraps all the way around the tent twice. Is your man me? No. But he can dance like he’s me.
The other concern in DM is the issue of stamina. I have a hard time seeing myself on my feet for 30 hours. With Terry Crews by my side, though, DM would be a snap. If Old Spice Odor Blocker Body Wash can block odor for 16 hours, not even Dance Marathon would stand in the way of my power. I’d even still be dancing far after everyone else had left the tent because, “Old Spice Odor Blocker is too powerful to let this marathon end!” I’d just have to remember to bring an extra bottle of Old Spice for a pick-me-up 16 hours in. After that, I’d be ready for 30 hours of solid Blocks and Building Kicks.
There’s no doubt these two would get me through DM in style and with ease. And throughout the whole thing, I’d smell absolutely fantastic.
Thom Yorke By Megan Suckut
It’s easy to become self-conscious about your unconventional dance style as you reach the middle blocks. When you’re trying your best to fend off the innate desire to plan an escape from the tent, coming up with flattering dance moves isn’t your top priority, and this is just fine.
Take it from Thom Yorke. Okay, so maybe this is just how he dances, but he seems to have the right idea. While he only dances for five minutes in “Lotus Flower,” his moves make sense for dancing in the spirit of endurance. His alternation between uncontrollable flailing and small, measured movements is reminiscent of interval running, a training regimen used by marathon runners to increase their endurance. While he has his moments of slow, staring insanity, he always ends up flailing again, and this should be you too.
Dance Marathon isn’t a dance-off. It’s not about who can sustain Beyoncé-style dance moves for 30 hours straight. Dance Marathon is all about dancing through the crazy. It’s about dancing like there’s no one watching.
No one cares if you look bonkers, or even if you’ve legitimately lost your mind. Look to your left – there’s your lab partner staring at the ground and moving his hips back and forth. And on your right is a girl sleeping standing up. No one will see you crazy-dancing, so don’t worry about what you look like and just let it happen.
You’re just one Thom Yorke in a sea of a thousand Thom Yorkes. The difference between you and the rest of them is that you can embrace it. So give it your best and please just try not to hit anyone with your uncontrollable arm movements.
Napoleon Dynamite By John Hardberger
It’s common knowledge among those who party with me that I have one dance move. If you’ve never had the pleasure, it’s sort of halfway between the Stanky Leg and a John-Travolta-circa-Pulp-Fictionnumber. It’s cute until you realize I do it to almost every song, altering the speed as needed. Hey, don't judge: It works for the kids in Moonrise Kingdom, plus it's easy to do with a drink in one hand.
But there is within me a deeper, higher power: A move that turns heads and makes friends. It can, however, only be accessed under very specific circumstances, halfway between going Super Saiyan and entering the Avatar State. But when the needle drops on “Canned Heat” by Jamiroquai, there’s only one thing left for me to do.
No, I don't have the whole thing memorized. I'm still working on it. But in the mean time, I channel the true master of this track, the one and only Napoleon Dynamite. In one of the most stunning scenes of contemporary cinema Jon Heder, as the titular hero in this 2004 cult comedy, opens a boogie vortex. With moves stolen from dime store exercise tapes, his heavily choreographed “Canned Heat” gambol might be the only dance move hipper than my typical Tarantino Twist. For that reason, I employ it selectively: Only when “Canned Heat” is playing can I truly get down. I attribute this as much to Napoleon Dynamite as a film (maybe the greatest film of all time, but that argument is for another time and place) as to the undeniable funk of Jamiroquai.
With his repressed boogie prowess, Heder’s Napoleon cements himself as my dance icon, my DM Spirit Animal and, in my opinion, pretty much one of the most skilled dudes ever. So here’s too the stiff-armed prom dancers, the zoomba dropouts and the stuck-in-the-fifties twisters like myself. Know that your “Canned Heat” is out there. When it hits, you’ll know it from the baseline and go the one place you can go: down.