#23 Dancing Under Constraints

Nerds can't dance.  I have been to enough MIT weddings not to pause in making such a blank and potentially offensive statement; for every nerd who beats the odds and looks comfortable and fluid on the dance floor, ten of his compatriots are bobbing awkwardly or watching enviously from the fringes.

I am a West Coast Swing dancer.  The person who first taught me WCS is an engineer.  The person I danced with the first time I set a toe on the dance floor is an engineer.  I've introduced quite a number of my friends to Westy, all of whom are mathematicians or engineers.  My studio's founder... is a Professor of Psychology, but you get the idea.  The floors are swarming with those whose professions tend them towards nerddom.

We have, at the very least, an odd Venn diagram.

The distinction lies in the difference between blank paper and a coloring book.  Given no constraints and the impetus to move to the music, we bob awkwardly.  Given exact technical instructions on the particular movements that will look good... we look good.  Or at least, substantially less awkward.  The feet suddenly lock into rhythm, because for some inexplicable reason alternating triple-steps with steps makes it easier.  The hands, now forced to make a lead-follow connection, no longer hang listlessly at the sides.   In short: if you want to get a nerd on the dance floor, tell him exactly what to do.