ARIEL BIERBAUM – Oakland – 2016

Thursday March 9 starts a clock for me. 4 weeks. Between March 9th and April 9th, I have 3 papers, 3 conference presentations, a poster and an academic job talk interview due. This will involve 3 trips to DC and 1 trip to San Diego. I’m not complaining. I have the best job. I’m not very well-paid, but my job is to think and write about things that I think are interesting and important. Privilege.

Nonetheless, March 9 was a gray, rainy day in Oakland. With my deadlines looming and the clock ticking, I got myself to my office to get to work. I’ve been a bit foggy, fighting a bit of a cold and not sleeping well, but thought getting out of the house and to the office would be a good move. I had a productive morning. At 3 pm I headed over to the Hearst Gym for my Tap Dancing class.

I’m taking Tap Dancing. I haven’t stepped into a dance studio in 30 years and I’m not a very good dancer. I have zero muscle memory for tap dancing. I haven’t learned something new in I don’t know how long. I’m in a class with 32 undergraduate students who are 18 to 20 years my junior. Many of them were on their high school dance teams. It’s humbling.

I got to the locker room to put on my dance clothes and tap shoes and looked down. (Photo 1). Had I gone the whole day – including a 2 mile walk to campus – with one pant leg in and one pant leg out of my boots? Who can say?

The class was good, in that I sweat and I didn’t break my ankle. Our final dance routine is to “Get Up Offa That Thing.” I was the only one in the class who recognized the song as James Brown. The other students all thought Justin Timberlake’s “Bringing Sexy Back” is “old school.”

At the end of class, I asked our teacher if she had the steps to our routine written down so I could practice at home. She said she had them in her “chicken scratch” but I was welcome to take a photo of them. (Photos 2 and 3).

Get up offa that thing,
and dance ’till you feel better,
Get up offa that thing,
and dance ’till you, sing it now!
Get up offa that thing,
and dance ’till you feel better
Get up offa that thing,
and try to release that pressure!