Dance Influence Music Swag Throwback Thursday Video


I never was the smoothest kid growing up in high school and transitioning into college; I didn’t hit my growth spurt until I was 17, transforming almost overnight from a short and plump sophomore to a lanky and awkward junior. And even then, I wasn’t comfortable being so tall.

Come to think of it, I just wasn’t that comfortable being me.

I had always wanted to dance in high school, but the mere mention of guys dancing in my high school was grounds for harsh and relentless ridicule. To add on to that, I had no swag. Let’s face it, whether I do now is also debatable. Regardless, the combination of gangly height, two left feet, and lack of opportunity meant that I didn’t dance at all in high school. I most definitely didn’t spend every morning trying to dance in my bathroom mirror – who does that?

Whether or not dancing occured every morning at the Li household, there was always one song that stuck with me – Neyo’s “Stay”. It came out in the fall of my junior year, and it was my jam. I didn’t know why; maybe it was the carefree vibe of the song that contrasted so starkly with the multitudinous pressures of being a first-born Asian son (SAT prep being one of them), or perhaps it was the fact that he was singing about girls, and I knew there wasn’t a chance in hell that any of the cute girls I put on a pedestal in high-school would ever consider me.

I think I loved that song because it just made me want to dance.

Like, dance-in-front-of-people-not-my-mirror dance. The kind of dancing, exposure, and freedom that I had been missing out on all through my adolescent life. It wasn’t until college came around that I found Kamikazi (Kazi love!) and began dancing publicly. Gaining confidence over time, I realized that dancing made me happy like few other things did. Sorry Taco Bell. I effing LOVED performing! To go from being so inconspicuous all my life to someone who entertained others just by my very movements was…exhilarating. Soon enough, I wanted to try my own hand at choreography, and naturally “Stay” was my first choice. But I try as I did, I just couldn’t put a piece together that I felt did justice to what the song meant to me. Even now, years removed from when I started dancing, I don’t feel like I can satisfactorily match moves to that piece of music. It’s funny, because “Stay” wasn’t Neyo’s best song or his most popular, by far. “Stay” was merely the first song off his album, the first R&B song I ever listened to, and the first song that made me want to dance.

I don’t think I’ll ever choreograph to it. 🙂

Ne-Yo – Stay