How to get a professional photographer to follow you around while you dance (without being nude or having any real dance skills): a 15 year plan

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Right now on my Instagram account I am hosting my 4th online “Dance off” which I super non-egotistically call: #alisonsdanceoff (there has also been #alisonsbffdanceoff and #alisonsmomdanceoff).

The dance offs are a result of me dancing for the hell of it on Instagram, or what I like to call #thealisondanceshow. I danced solo for so long that one day I had just had enough and thought, “OOOOOH I WANNA DANCE WITH SOMEBODY!” Yes, yes. “I wanna feel the HEAT! With somebody.” And that’s when I invited others to join me.

Having virtual dance parties was one thing, but the next natural step was to throw some in-person dance bashes. (Lumberjack Jam, Flamingo Fest, Feelings Fest.)

But at my most recent dance party, Alison’s Feelings Fest, I started to get really self-conscious that my adorable (and when I say adorable I really do mean SUPER HOT) photographer Trevor Christensen was following me around while I was dancing. And that he had essentially been hired to do that. Cough, BY ME.

And as I stopped gyrating for a moment to reflect I thought, “HOW THE HELL DID I MAKE THIS HAPPEN?”

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Because I’m not going to pretend that, “Oh! Silly me! This just happened.” No, no I had worked my LARGE behind off. And this absurdity was the result.

Now you know (or if you don’t you will now) that first and foremost I love sharing my experiences mostly because I hope they can help others discover, learn, or feel encouraged to do whatever it is they want to do. (More about that here.)

So I went ahead broke this journey into 10 easy-to-follow steps in case YOU TOO want a photographer to follow you around while you dance (or something similar). Ready? I call it:

How to get a professional photographer to follow you around while you dance without being nude or having any real dance skills: a 15-year-plan

Step 1. Accept your fate as a mediocre dancer.

When you’re 15 you’ll begin to realize that while you’ve got rhythm, you’re not being placed in the front row of your 30-person dance group in your high school lip-synching/dance contest (called Airband). And even though you’re REALLY enthusiastic and have good creative ideas, you just don’t make the cut when it’s time for the intense 8-person dance numbers. Take a deep breath, sigh, and begin to internalize the inevitability of your shattered pop-star dreams.

Step 2. Develop a set of “joke” dance moves.

So you’ve accepted that you’re not the BEST dancer but that doesn’t mean you can’t be the most fun! At high school functions where you are required to dance, begin to develop a set of dance moves that are somewhat of a joke. You know, like impersonating your mom, doing the jitterbug when people are “grinding” or what was once known as “freak dancing.” Also a good idea: doing the “foxy lady” hip thrust (from Wayne’s World) whenever you find yourself in the center of a dance circle. Being super naive helps, because you’re unaware of how horribly sexual a lot of your “joke” dance moves are until you enter a conservative religious college and are basically black-listed from the cafeteria karaoke contest for your dance interpretation of Salt n’ Peppa’s “What A Mighty Good Man.”

 Step 3. Slowly your joke moves will become your real moves.

Like people who keep up their British accent after a one-year-stint in London, your joke moves will become the new norm. Because after 3-4 years of “joke” dancing, and watching countless dance competition romantic dramas, you’ll no longer be able to remember how normal, or “regular” people dance and what were once your “sometimes” moves will become your “always” moves. People who didn’t know you before will just think this is how you dance. You will have NO idea how absurd you look. In other words you’ve shifted your dance barometer.

 Step 4. Throw countless college dance parties that always end with law enforcement.

You love dancing so much you want others to dance too! And college students love to dance because they all want to hook up! Use this to your advantage. Try out fun themes, take notes about logistics, and pay special attention to which scenarios enable dancing and which scenarios hinder dancing. You’re becoming an ambassador of ridiculous dancing and you don’t event know it!

 Step 5. Begin a master plan to grow your empire.

It’s been 7 years of dancing now, and you’re ready to take over the world. But as mentioned in Step 3, you really have no idea that your dancing is anything other than ordinary, so you willingly share it on social media, because anyone trying to grow an empire is a slave to social media. People who have not been “joke dancing” for the better part of a decade will be both intrigued and disgusted. They will laugh, they will scoff. It will all seem totally normal to you because you’re used to doing things like being sober while dominating the dance floor on a cruise ship while people shout, “Quit your day job!”

 Step 6. Lean into it.

Oh, they like your dancing do they? Now it’s time to DANCE MONKEY DANCE! Sure it can be a little bit alarming when you’re teaching a very serious online course about social media that you’ve spent weeks preparing and care a lot about and the class keeps typing in the comments section, “BUT WHEN WILL SHE DANCE?” It might feel a little like people shouting, “Take your top off!” You might even want to get offended and remind them that you’re more than a wind up doll. But why bother? The dancing has brought them joy. Lean into the dancing. Go with the dancing. The rest will come later.

 Step 7. Give up your solo.

But it can’t be all about you. That’s no fun, dancing is supposed to be done in groups and you’re not looking for ALL of the spotlight (just most of it). But really, you want other people to dance too. And because you have had them watch while YOU dance, their toes have been tapping, their jazz hands have been quivering and they find themselves stretching in preparation for something, SOMETHING, but they are not sure what! You’ve primed the pump!

 Step 8. If you throw it, they will come.

Now it’s time to throw a real, live, dance party. One with sponsors! Sponsors are key because it means you have a budget. A budget is paramount because it means you MUST hire a photographer. It’s not for YOU, it’s for the sponsors. They want to see pictures of how their money was used! They want social media shares. You’re just a puppet and DANCE is the puppeteer. The show must go on. Hire a photographer who understands it’s not that you WANT them to follow you around all night taking pictures of you dancing. It’s just that it’s part of the BRAND. The dance gods demand it.


This moment has been 15 years in the making. You have done it my friend. YOU HAVE DONE IT. Primp, preen, and prance.

You have successfully coerced a professional photographer to follow you around while dancing. Your clothing is still on, you’re not starring on a reality TV show, and sure maybe some people might think you’re a narcissist, but the ones who really matter understand you danced so they could dance. You danced because you love to dance and you just know no other way. You danced because it’s helping to build an empire that you believe will be a force for good. You danced, because dancing is not a crime.

 Step 10. Smile.

It’s time for your close up.

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I love you all! Do what you want. Love what you do.




red dress photos: Trevor Christensen // pink hair photos: Jess Peterson // black and white photo: Matt Clayton // sequin pants photo: Justin Hackworth

If you were into this crap, you can always share it and MAKE MY DAY! Also, you might also be into:

The Top 10 Things I Learned in 2014

My How to Be Awesome Series

The story of how I started my own business: How I Share It

How to Plan a Party Regardless of Budget (so you can throw your own dance party)





  1. This is awesome!! I laughed through this whole post! When is your next dance party?? I need to come shake my booty with you to make my life complete!

  2. I CAN’T EVEN WITH YOU RIGHT NOW! So obsessed with this that now I may have to go around pretending to be 15… Forget Beyoncé, I want to be YOU when I grow up! xx

  3. Sarah

    This is too too good. So many marvelous lines!

  4. Lindsey

    This was so cute to read. Add great writer to the list of things Alison does well.

  5. Brittany Ratelle

    amen sister.

  6. Alexis

    Love this! You are sooooo right! Keep on dancing!!

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