by caleigh horan
For as long as I can remember, I have absolutely detested the song Dancing Queen by ABBA. This was not without reason, however. One of my earliest memories includes my family singing the song’s beloved chorus to me, but instead of identifying me as the dancing queen, they replaced the lyrics, hailing me as the drama queen. This did not sit well with me, and I often ran out of the room in tears. Little did young Caleigh know that I was actually confirming my status as the very title I feared. This realization would not come until much later on.
Given that ABBA is the most commercially successful pop group on this planet, it has not been easy to avoid this song. Throughout my life, I have found myself going out of my way to remove myself from any social situation, whether it popped up on the radio or at a wedding or a school dance. The gentle teasing associated with the song had caused me to form a deeply rooted hatred for all things ABBA. I thought that college would give me an opportunity to escape this unfortunate childhood memory, but I soon discovered that the song had taken on new life, whether it was played in its original form at a dance or through a trap remix out at a bar. I simply could not escape the throws of the Dancing Queen.
This nationwide fervor for ABBA seemed to come to a climax this summer as the premier of Mama Mia 2 approached, a cinematic event that I felt indifferent towards for obvious reasons. My room mates, aware of my relationship with ABBA, were still dumbfounded that I had never seen the first Mama Mia movie, and insisted we watch it together. I reluctantly gave in to their request, and it was easily one of the best decisions of the summer. All it took was a couple hours of well-choreographed musical numbers in a picturesque location, and I was completely hooked on ABBA. For now, I associated them with the story of Donna Sheridan and her daughter, Sophie. In many ways, I strived to have a “Donna Sheridan summer,” living whimsically and passionately, without the multiple suitors. Something was beginning to change within me. I was starting to enjoy Dancing Queen.
Although my summer was full of freedom and fun, I also did a lot of contemplating. I thought about why the song had bothered me so much throughout my life, and I have come to the conclusion that it’s because the changed lyrics highlight a part of me that I’m not very proud of. In fact, I try to vehemently deny my status of the Drama Queen. Nevertheless, I really am I drama queen in some ways. I am outwardly passionate about everything I do. I love, hard, and I feel everything so deeply. So if that makes me a drama queen, I fully accept the title.
I have spent a great deal of my time in college trying to figure out who I really am, and I think I am finally ready to claim portions of my identity, even if they’re not the most positive. I think we as people spend too much time trying to avoid these truths. I am loud and talk too much sometimes and yes, I have really spastic dance moves. But you will see me every Friday out in the center of the school that has become my home, dancing my heart out as I lead the organization that I have spent so much of my time and energy rebuilding. I reclaim my identity not only the drama queen, but as the dancing queen. I hope in this year, you can reclaim a part of you that you never thought was possible. And don’t forget to dance a little bit too.