In the 1993 Malayalam movie Kalippattam, when asked why he was fired from work, Mohanlal explains that it was for playing the violin during his breaks – “Vishrama velakal aanandakaram aakkiyathinu” (For enjoying my breaks.) This line of his is what I am reminded of every time I see a news article about people getting fired from their jobs or facing major backlash online for a very new reason – dancing at the workplace. Nurses, doctors, medical students, teachers – these are mostly the people who I have seen at the receiving end of such incidents, especially in the last one year or so.

Before you start off with “there is a place and time for everything”, let me clarify that I am not talking about nurses or doctors dancing like crazy in hospital wards or ER in the middle of patients or teachers dancing with a classful of students looking on. In every such incident, these people were simply having some fun during a break in their nurses’ station or an unused corridor or an empty classroom. It got me thinking – why the hell is this made such a big deal? Serious enough to suspend or even dismiss them?

Almost every time a medical professional is at the centre of such news, the reason given is “the sanctity and seriousness of medical profession” and how people’s lives depend on medicos. Which would make sense if they were ignoring their duty or dancing around a sick person instead of treating him. But especially in today’s scenario, while facing extreme stress and danger to self on a daily basis, if they choose to lighten the mood during their breaks without causing any harm to anyone by dancing, and posting a video of it to put a smile on the faces of others, how on earth is that unprofessional or wrong?

And if it is a teacher??!! Oh my! “Is this the culture that we want our kids to learn??? Is this why we send our kids to school??? Teachers who are supposed to teach our kids the right path in life dancing??? What blasphemy!!”

The worst part is that except for Janaki and Naveen, the Kerala medical students who became overnight sensations for their amazing dance moves to “Rasputin”, no one else from any of these news pieces got any support, either on social media or otherwise. I’m glad these kids found the kind of support they got, especially considering how there were many assholes who tried to bring in an unnecessary religion and “romance” angle to their video. But I keep wondering – what about all the others? Why did they all lose their jobs? And what are they doing now? Have they found some other job or are they all still suffering for someone else’s wrong definition of professionalism?

I really don’t understand. Why do we have to leave our fun selves at home to be taken seriously at work? As long as it isn’t indecent and it isn’t hurting anyone, why can’t people enjoy their breaks with something as fun and harmless as dance? Let’s hope that someday the higher-ups in organizations and those who believe in the power of facade over hard work get some sense knocked into their heads. Only then will people be able to engage in stressbusters of the most inoffensive kind and not worry about its consequences. Until that day, “dancing your heart out” could be the riskiest stunt to pull at work!

Also published on Medium.