"Do you like glitter?"
I stared at the woman in front of me, who was dancing to techno music and tossing her blonde hair about as she made vegan curry in her kitchen, and tried my best to process the four words that had just been said to me.
There I was, in my black skinny jeans and band T-shirt, dyed red hair and lip piercing, and this girl -- too pretty for someone like me to be hanging out with -- was asking me if I liked glitter.
What a mess I had gotten myself into?
I've been in Regensburg for a little over a week now. Our good friend of the family, who has known my parents since kindergarten, had suggested I get out of the house and "meet people." She'd brought up a concert to me, one she knew her young co-worker was attending with her roommates, and before I had time to object, I was holding a ticket to the Isles of Summer and a pass for the bus to Munich.
I had already come up with a dozen reasons not to go -- didn't have the money, what if I got lost, it's not even my kind of music, etc. -- but I had my hands tied. I was going to this concert, and I'd have to make the best of it.
I met my concert mates after six hours of dealing with public transportation and trying to navigate Munich. The three of them -- who have requested they be referred to as "Penelope," "Cinderella" and "Ariel" for the purposes of this article -- were all very welcoming, and immediately fed me and offered me tea. Cinderella happily shared her story about how she became vegan with me, and even fixed me a vegan sandwich. I was content just to sit their kitchen and sip the peppermint tea Penelope had prepared for me, but in reality, the day hadn't even begun.
As we arrived at the concert grounds and I could hear the pounding bass as I walked over discarded beer bottles, I got the feeling that I was in the wrong place. I was the kid in high school who skipped lunch to hang out in the library, never went to parties and would rather read a book in the dugout than step up to bat. Now here I was, surrounded by girls in a completely different league than me, at a festival for music that to me, all sounded the same.
If it were a rock concert, I'd know just how to blend in. I knew my way around a mosh pit, and I had the rock horns and headbanging down. But I realised that to survive this, I'd actually have to learn how to dance.
"You have to move your feet," Cinderella said, already swaying to the electronic beat.
Move my feet?
I tried my best to follow suit, taking steps in time with the heavy bass. I looked over to Penelope and Ariel, trying to copy their movements, and felt I looked more like an awkward penguin on ice than an experienced festival-goer.
"Okay, now your arms," Penelope said.
What, move my feet and my arms? Just how complicated was this dancing thing?
I thought about ducking out, but as I looked around, I knew that I would stand out if I weren't dancing.
Everyone was on their feet, rocking their hips and waving their arms, and I realized that they needed only one thing to look like they knew what they were doing, as cheesy as it sounds: a smile.
If you were having fun, then it didn't matter what your dancing looked like.
As I watched the people around me, one thought came to mind:
"Don't stop moving."
And I obeyed.
By the end of the day, I was feeling the music, taking pictures with strangers and covering my face in glitter. It was unlike any concert I've ever been to, but there was something special about it: Everyone looked so free.
Free of worries, free of fear or anger or regret. Free of responsibilities, free of time, free of everything.
And pretty soon, I started to feel free, too. I wasn't worrying about what time I'd have to leave to catch my bus. I wasn't worrying about how I'd get to the train station. I wasn't worrying about how late I would get back. I wasn't worrying about what these girls, so different from me, thought of me being their tag-along.
I'll admit it. I had fun.
Given the choice, it probably wasn't something I'd ever do on my own. But at the end of the day, I was glad I came. I was glad I got so far out of my comfort zone as to go to a concert with people I'd never met before, listening to music I'd never heard before, dancing like I'd never danced before. It was an experience, and despite my initial fears, it was one worth having.
What I took away from that day is something that should help me get through my year here in Germany... No matter what happens, no matter what I'm afraid of, there's just one thing I have to do: Don't stop moving.