Here’s the scene; it’s a Friday night and I’ve just come out of seeing BYU’s production of Alan Ayckborn’s Absent Friends (which was great by the way). I’m all hopped up on Taco Bell and all worn down by a week of bleh, and though it’s only 9:30 pm, going to bed sounds like the most delicious thing I could possibly do with my Friday night.

But my not-so-absent friends were insistent that I spend my heaven-sent weekend opener in a little more style than that. We’re all would-be actors so, of course, first stop was Starbucks where we sat around wearing giant berets and donning all black, while we sipped our coffee-free drinks and discussed playing emotional states vs. objectives and tactics. Some of the above might be exaggeration, but that’s what it was like in our heads.

After the hors d’oeuvres activity, we decided to do a very college-kid-on-a-Friday-night thing and go dancing. I’m more of a spontaneous-ridiculous-dance-parties-with-a-group-of-friends person, but a room full of strangers, 95% of whom dance almost as badly as you do, is fine too.

It was a strange experience, because though you come to a club like that to be around lots of other people, the music is too loud to really introduce yourself or get to know anyone, or even talk to the people in your own group, so it becomes quite the existential experience. Just swaying and wondering and watching.

Though my vision was completely obscured by fog and pulsing neon lights periodically, what I did observe taught me much. Dance parties, particularly in Provo where the numbers are still small enough that you can keep track of individuals on the dance floor, are like little microcosms of the world and of adolescent social experience.

There are still those super obnoxious groups of girls who make a spectacle of themselves and rule the stage, if there is one. I always resented them, but I won’t deny that I felt a twinge of jealousy that they have the kind of confidence to be that outlandish and laughable and still remain unaffected.

In the same vein, there’s still that guy who has moderately impressive (or at least unusual) dance moves. He begins to dance, and suddenly the floor is his, and everyone gathers around clapping their hands and whooping and hollering. For that brief moment, he is the center of everything, but as soon as the song ends the crowd disperses and he remains to dance alone. He’s a tragic character, more of a mascot than anybody’s friend.

And there’s still that girl who, when joined in the circle by a hot guy, says nothing and continues to say nothing until he walks away and finds someone who will actually acknowledge him. Oh wait, that girl is me. What’s worse is this was a boy who I’d been admiring from a distance before he actually came up. We were all dancing in a circle, and I don’t know what fuse blew in my brain, but I forgot that people don’t just automatically acclimate to a social environment in which all signs point to you’re not welcome,’ just because they are ridiculously good-looking.

After a couple of minutes he walked away (I would’ve) and found a group of people, who were equally strangers, but who (like normal people) introduced themselves and included him. I kept a peripheral eye on their happy little goings-on the rest of the night. Watching the girls laugh a little too hard at what looked like jokes that couldn’t possibly be that funny, and salsa with him, and flirt and tease made me realize I’m still wholly lacking in the romantic confidence department. I don’t like to put myself out there, lest I look like a fool, and yet look whose leaving the party alone.