Arriving a half hour late, I feel the bass before I hear it, seconds after swiping my badge to get in the side door. Ignoring the voice that says to skip the dance and go work in my classroom, I slip inside the cafeteria. My fluid-filled, just-checked-by-the-doctor-this-morning ears are vibrating with the pounding beat of Chubby Checkers singing "The Twist".
The cafeteria tables have been pushed to the sides, and the floor cleared for the dance. Lights are down, disco ball is up, and the stage is filled with DJ equipment. I sit at the outskirts and people-watch. The principal is called up to the front to demonstrate "The Wobble". Dozens of children of all ages, parents, and a half dozen teachers are joining in the fun on the dance floor. The Wobble then turns into "Beat It", and I watch one mother video her child with her phone. Another joyfully dances with her little girl in a party dress, their eyes totally focused on each other, smiles beaming through the strobe lighting. Then everyone is dancing "Gangnam Style", including the dad in the back, lassoing the air. A mom at the front is getting dancing lessons from the middle school siblings, former Armadillos themselves, returning to their elementary home to party. I say "hey" to one of my students and a few parents who frequent my crosswalk.
One of my colleagues motions me to join in, and I point to my ear and shrug, shaking my head as she smiles and continues dancing. Try as I might, I'm just not feeling the beat tonight. After quietly singing along to fun.'s "Some Nights", I decide to slip out the same way I came in. The walk to my car is quiet, the radio intrusive and immediately silenced as I drive the short way home to an early bedtime.