“Oh don’t you dare look back, just keep your eyes on me. I said you’re holding back, she said shut up and dance with me…”Shut Up and Dance, WALK THE MOON
The college days nostalgia continues, but this time with a very special reason. My dear friend Kyle Rogan (a very talented musician you should all check out by the way) is getting married tomorrow. And one special moment I’m looking forward to is the moment everyone will get to the dance floor for WALK THE MOON’s 2015 bop, “Shut Up and Dance”.
Listen, I know how overplayed this song was/is. It’s not a surprise when you hear it in a TJ Maxx on a Saturday afternoon. But it’s so dear to me because no song captures the carefree joy of being a freshman in college like this one. I should probably explain the moment this song got cemented in my memory.
It was the second semester of my freshman year and in some ways, my closest friends were all starting to go our separate ways. For one, they were almost all juniors with busy schedules and secondly, I was off on new adventures as a journalist in training. We still saw each other on Sundays and during our weekly Bible study but the times where we’d run into each other and end up spending hours just hanging out were fewer and far between. Even our famous Tuesday night bowling wasn’t as much of a thing anymore.
As we neared the end of the year though, some of our friends at campus ministry were organizing a prom for everyone, so naturally, it became the event I was looking forward to so I could hang with all my friends again. Everyone talked about shopping for dresses and suits and if anyone was taking a date. I looked forward to this prom way more than my high school prom, if I’m honest. I decided to go with my friend Katie and we did this cute little yin/yang thing with our gowns.
This night was pure fun. We danced to 2015’s greatest hits, including live performances by “Kyle Rogan and the American Heroes” and DJ Wrought Iron Steve, aka my friend Wilson from Spectre Jones. We acted like a bunch of hams that night and I’m forever glad I brought my camera to film an installment of our friend group’s video series called “Random Crap Diaries”. I have the video on my Facebook for friends only.
I remember listening to “Shut Up and Dance” and thinking to myself, ‘dang, Kyle would do such a great cover of this song.’ And lo and behold, Kyle and the band performed it at the prom and the whole dance floor just lit up. We all loved this song among my friend group and it was always stuck in someone’s head. But this moment felt so special. I had so many times that night where I looked around and just saw everyone having the time of their lives. It’s one of my fondest memories in college.
To me, “Shut Up and Dance” was our song and at the time, it reminded me that the best things in life happen when you stay in the moment and really savor it.
So now let’s get back to the present: 2015 was 7 years ago and my gag reflex was triggered just mentioning that. Many of the friends above have moved, gotten married, and just plain have not been in my life as much as they used to. If I felt the drifting away in second semester freshman year, that’s nothing compared to now. It’s sad but it’s just how life is.
I look back at that prom night and realize how hearing this song at friends’ weddings has been one of the sweetest things for me. My friends Steven and Ruth played it in their forest wedding reception, Naomi and Kevin played it in their yacht wedding reception, and most recently, Katie and Doug played it in their Santa Barbara restaurant reception. It’s as if this song reminded me that no matter how far we’ve moved, how long it’s been, how different we’ve become—we can always tap into that college age youthfulness by letting loose on the dancefloor.
Now as I prepare to cry profusely at my friend Kyle’s wedding this weekend, I’m thinking about how this song is always gonna remind me of these friends. We’re all so different now, yet there’s something in me that knows all of us will drop everything to be on the dancefloor for this one. Anyway, I should take this song’s advice and shut up and dance to it in all its glory.