Stemming from my New Year’s resolution to practice more empathy and, partly inspired by the protagonist of Elaine Hsieh Chou’s “Disorientation” (2022) — who abstains from the act because “She [i]sn’t a Republican!”— is my intent to stop kink-shaming. Regardless of your political affiliation, I hope this column can convince you to join me in this endeavor. My broader aim, though, is twofold: one, to dismantle the concept of “guilty pleasures” and explore why we shouldn't be ashamed of the things that bring us joy and to advocate for the small and oft overlooked innocent pleasures that can add light to our lives if we know to let them.
From food to media, what we consume is under attack from ourselves and outsiders. Our tastes are questioned, ridiculed and stigmatized on both ends. Deciding not to feel guilty about our likes can be empowering. Don’t read this as a license to do whatever you want; I’m not going to affirm your fondness for wearing your mask below your nose. Rather, I offer the framework that one’s right to pursue their life how they choose is limited by others’ right not to be harmed by others.
With that said, I ask you not only not to yuck others’ yums but not to yuck your own. At a time of so much worry and uncertainty, when 85% of undergrad students report greater stress and/or anxiety and workers experience burnout at rates higher than ever, don’t undermine your opportunities for happiness. Critical self-reflection is important, but so is radical self-care and compassion.
This has been a hard week for me, and I’m not going to make it harder by being embarrassed by my enthusiasm for this particular column’s subject: impromptu dance breaks. I’m still overcoming my belief there’s something wrong with indulging in song-long dance parties of one, but also I think they are an undeservedly underrated activity. My latest coping mechanism has been dancing in abandoned classrooms and in between empty stacks in Tisch basement, and I’ve loved every second of it.
After one semester of virtual ballroom, I cannot say I have any ‘moves,’ but I do have some tips for beginners. One, dance like nobody’s watching — because you’ve ensured no one is. Two, my tried and true tunes are “Mr. Blue Sky” (1977) and “You Belong With Me (Taylor’s Version),” (2021) but go for whatever moves you— that’s the whole point. And three, blast it (in your earbuds if you’re in a quiet public space) at a volume loud enough to drown out any inner or outer critics and enjoy the ride.
Moments of pure joy can be hard to come by, but the goal of this column is to make them more accessible by highlighting and reframing practices that encourage them. Planning for spontaneous boogieing sounds paradoxical, but opening yourself to the possibility is the first step.
If you’re still on the fence, dancing has proven benefits for your physical and mental health and so do microbreaks in general. So give in to the rhythm. Besides, as the Panic! At The Disco song affirms, dancing’s not a crime — there’s nothing guilty about it.