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SPOTLIGHT:
DANCE AND THE CITY
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Dance and the City: Like a Virgin

by Rachel Levin
September 19, 2004
Los Angeles, CA

Dance and the City: Like a Virgin

Rachel Levin
September 19, 2004

OK, so I'm no longer an Internet-dating virgin.

I had avoided it for as long as I possibly could. I just couldn't imagine how a headshot and tidy profile disembodied from an actual person could ever stand in for someone's physical presence.

Dancers are a sensual and tactile bunch; when we encounter a new partner on the floor, we tend to use eye contact, body posture, and communicative touch as a gauge of mutual interest. A dancer's physicality demonstrates not only his attractiveness, but also his essence: his way of moving through space and encountering the world. How, I wondered, could a two-dimensional, pixilated representation of someone on an Internet site ever convey all of this information necessary to commence the dance of love?

When I heard about dancepartner.com, an internet site devoted to dancers seeking dancers for practice, performance, and possible romance, I knew instantly that this was how I was going to get my feet wet in the cool digital pool of online dating. Since the web site boasted thousands of dancer profiles, how could I go wrong? The hard work of sifting through profile after profile trying to find men who dance was already done for me.

I carefully selected my "headshot" photo and came up with a cute username. Then, all that was left to do was put digital checkboxes beside the dance styles I liked (why is "rave" on there but "hip-hop" is not? Certainly a flaw in the dancepartner.com system) and fill in my vitals, including height, eye color, and whether or not I want to have children. I'm not sure how my maternal instincts relate to my potential as a salsa partner, but I was willing to play along.

When I completed my profile and clicked "save," I was elated. I felt like I had walked into the largest dance ballroom I possibly could. Surely among the thousands, I would find a partner or partners who were right for me.

Men are more often the initiators on the dance floor, so I assumed the same would hold true in the virtual world. All I'd have to do was sit back and wait to get noticed. I'd heard stories that women who are new to Internet dating sites are often flooded with emails upon their arrival. I braced myself for the onslaught.

The next day, I opened my inbox with great anticipation.

Empty.

Hmmm. The next day, also empty.

A week went by and still no one had given me so much as a digital tap on the shoulder. Was I destined to be a cyberspace wallflower?

In an attempt to preserve my ego, I cursed the whole concept of Internet dating. How could anyone possibly notice me among the pages upon pages of smiling headshots? How could they see what a great dancer and cute, petite package I was from the pre-fab profile?

I almost cancelled my membership when an email arrived in my box.

Aha! I thought. Maybe it was just a matter of time.

Eagerly, I entered my password and accessed my inbox. The message was from a member in San Diego. Kind of far away, I thought, but maybe finding the perfect partner will require some travel.

I pulled up the message and discovered that my mystery suitor was in fact not a dancer. Rather, he was a social scientist conducting a study on people who join Internet sites to find dance partners! Instead of a dance date, he was soliciting my participation as a subject in his study. Would I be willing to answer a few questions?

I pondered what his thesis might be. I couldn't imagine it would be flattering. All that came to mind was a study about whether or not the members of dancepartner.com were less socially skilled than other dancers! This was definitely not a cohort I wanted to be associated with.

I deleted his email.

It's been a few months now, and I've ventured onto other (non-dance) Internet sites where I've been deluged with emails. But I have yet to receive a nod from anyone on dancepartner.com.

Maybe there's just no replacement for a glance across the floor, a clasp of a hand, the thrill of a turn, or the embrace of a dip.

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