It was among the few things I fondly missed when I left grad school to return to the world—the dancing. Anthropologists are taken up with the study of casual and formal rituals. Imbibing psychoactive beverages and dance performed the role of ceremony for our tribe of graduate students. Our tribal elders frequently joined in too.
That’s right, the booze-filled evenings with crazy dance tapes. Dancing till four AM, even if it was sometimes with enemies, was normal. Tomorrow in the colloquium was tomorrow. Tonight we danced our unity as a tribe.
The parties could start as early as Thursday, and run through the weekend. An utterly successful round of parties might see a group of beached graduate students washed up like whales at our morning coffee spot, desperately seeking to replace fluids with coke and coffee—a subdued first class on Monday, routine.
After grad school, American Anthropological Association meetings had to do. Hoteliers were happy to see us. Once I asked a hotel manager how we were as a group. He smiled and said that Anthropologists drank more, but broke less than other groups. Which I guess was his way of saying the company made money on our stay – we attended meetings during the day, then drank and danced all night.
Dance was how I met the professor who was to have the most profound influence on me. It was at an Anthropological meeting In Toronto. At the time, I barely knew what the term Anthropology meant. I was visiting friends in Canada, and having lunch in the same hotel as the meetings. During lunch, a stocky man got up on a table and started dancing. Hotel management seemed OK with the performance. Years later, I learned who he was and what he was dancing. At the time, he was just an oddity.
It’s been long years, but on occasion, I recall the mornings ( around four AM) that a group of us would wake up sober while line dancing to Greek music.


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