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Posted by Robin Abrahams  February 17, 2008 11:26 AM

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Today's "My Word" praised engineers and engineering, and tried (in the 75-word limit of that feature!) to broaden readers' perceptions of what "engineering" consists of. I'm happy to say I went to a very well-engineered party last night--unsurprising, perhaps, as it was put on by the New England Science Writers as part of the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting.

Throwing a great party isn't easy, but it can be simple. Get a bunch of people with common interests who don't feel self-conscious around each other, give 'em a nice big space to move around in, some high-protein food (Fenway Franks and roast turkey with mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce, at this dig), and a few drinks. Allow an hour or so for eating and schmoozing, and then dance.

The band was fantastic--they're called Boss Band, and if you're local and looking for a band, these guys rule--soul/R&B/classic rock/disco covers, with a great lead singer who gets people involved without bringing on any audience-participation horrors. I'm still feeling energized despite being stiff as a board from moving in ways I usually don't, for a hell of a lot longer than I thought I could. And I sweated my hair into something resembling dreadlocks.

I was definitely in a state of altered consciousness when we left, and so were the other couple we rode home with, though all of us were sober. It was the high of pure exhaustion and what I can only describe as communal ecstasy.

I want more of this
. Everyone there wanted more of this. Why is it so hard to get?

There's great dancing on tap every night in a big city. But dancing with strangers is different. You want to look cool. You worry about being hit on or someone mistakenly thinking you're hitting on them. You can't just play. I didn't really know more than half-a-dozen people at the party last night, and recognized maybe a dozen more from previous conferences, but everyone there was part of a community. And one of science writers, at that, which means that being "cool" is not really a going concern. It was safe, and joyful, and some of us could dance and some of us couldn't and nobody cared, and if you wanted to pantomime that "Ain't no mountain high enough" song, yeah, everybody was going to laugh at you, but in a good way. (And highly intelligent, slightly drunk science women can come up with some inventive and amusing ways to pantomime the "ain't no river wide enough" line, I tell you what.)

It was an experience of pure joy and I'm not sure I can wait until next year's conference, and party, to have it again.

What do we want? Ecstatic communal dancing!
When do we want it? As soon as my right knee stops throbbing and I ascertain no serious damage has been done!

Maybe not the most memorable of slogans, but it works for me.

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About Miss Conduct
Welcome to Miss Conduct’s blog, a place where the popular Boston Globe Magazine columnist Robin Abrahams and her readers share etiquette tips, unravel social conundrums, and gossip about social behavior in pop culture and the news. Have a question of your own? Ask Robin using this form or by emailing her at

Who is Miss Conduct?

Robin Abrahamswrites the weekly "Miss Conduct" column for The Boston Globe Magazine and is the author of Miss Conduct's Mind over Manners. Robin has a PhD in psychology from Boston University and also works as a research associate at Harvard Business School. Her column is informed by her experience as a theater publicist, organizational-change communications manager, editor, stand-up comedian, and professor of psychology and English. She lives in Cambridge with her husband Marc Abrahams, the founder of the Ig Nobel Prizes, and their socially challenged but charismatic dog, Milo.

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