With the possible exception of convention centers, nothing encapsulates pure, excruciating awkwardness better than a middle school dance -- a shared experience of raging hormones and social interactions that still make your stomach sink when they pop into your head 15 years later.
I went to middle school when kids wore Rocawear polos and K-Swiss sneakers to dance with girls who coordinated the color of their skirt to their braces while a DJ played clean versions of 50 Cent's greatest hits, but I'm willing to assume at least a few things remain constant regardless of the era.
I somehow managed to temporarily bypass the mental barrier surrounding all of my middle school memories to compile a list of all the different types of people in attendance at school dances and figure out what they're doing with their lives nowadays.
The kids who knew how to break dance.
You're on the dance floor slowly nodding your head and maybe moving your hips a little when all of a sudden a streak of color bounces across the floor in front of you. It's Kevin. He knows how to do The Worm. Kevin is so much cooler than you.
What they're up to now: Kevin has auditioned for "So You Think You Can Dance?" every year for the past decade.
The kids who knew the words (and dance moves) to every single song.
The human body goes through a lot of changes during puberty, and based on my experience with adolescence, raging hormones make middle school students unable to listen to a popular song without playing it at least four times in a row.
The obsession was amplified even further if that song happened to be accompanied by a choreographed dance move. Some people were able to resist the allure, while others spent three hours in their rooms on a Saturday afternoon watching tutorial videos made by Soulja Boy.
What they're up to now: Making sure everybody knows they know all the words to "Big Poppa" when it comes on at a party.
The kids who enjoyed the snack table a little too much.
Middle school dances are a lot like wedding receptions: You should feel free to take advantage of the open bar, but you don't want to be the person who punches someone in the face in the middle of the dance floor.
Unless you went to the coolest charter school in the world, it probably wasn't a steady flow of liquor that caused the most problems -- it was the practically unlimited amounts of soda and the one kid who wasn't allowed to drink it at home.
Jake had seven Mountain Dews in 20 minutes. Jake did know his limits.
What they're up to now: Trying to find a job after getting fired for doing something they have no recollection of at the company retreat.
The couple that just started dating.
These are the duos like Greg and Anna -- the duo who didn't know they were going to the dance until Greg got a note from Brett that Brett got from Lisa that Anna told Lisa to give to Brett at lunch on Friday.
As a result, this is basically their first real date, and it's going to be a night filled with red faces, awkward pauses and Greg trying to figure out how far he be can put his hands down Anna's back.
What they're up to now: Greg moved to Hong Kong and Anna became a librarian in Iowa. Neither of them remember the three weeks they "dated" in eight grade.
The couple who had been dating for way too long.
Every middle school had at least one couple who coordinated bathroom breaks to make out in the stairwell near the library, and you never knew what was going to happen when you let them be together in dark room with a set of bleachers for two hours.
You just knew it was going to be something no chaperone wanted to deal with.
What they're up to now: They have two kids, still live in your hometown and are one of the only reasons you check Facebook anymore.
The chaperone who had to deal with it.
He didn't even want to be here in the first place. His wife went to the PTA meeting and all of a sudden he was signed up to be a chaperone. He doesn't even really like most of the other dads.
What they're up to now: He's still running his plumbing company, but his hair has gotten significantly greyer since his daughter went away to college.
The kids who were wearing cologne for the first time.
According to movies, people who wear cologne are cool, and they're even cooler when they absentmindedly splash a bunch of it into their hands before repeatedly slapping themselves in the face.
According to middle school logic, the more times you do this, the cooler you will become. If you use a bottle, you'll theoretically be irresistible. Unfortunately, middle school logic is horribly flawed, and everyone's nostrils must suffer because of it.
What they're up to now: Doing the same thing at nightclubs.
The kids who wore the same outfit they wore to school that day.
Nobody has ever looked back at their middle school pictures and said "Wow, I'm glad I wore that," so while you're not expected to show up in something you won't regret years down the road, you at least want to look like you tried.
That means showing up in something other than the And 1 graphic tee emblazoned with a sick burn that you wore to school that day. At least throw on a short sleeve button down. We're civilized people. Act like it.
What they're doing now: Coming into work at least once a week wearing a more wrinkled version of what they had on yesterday.
The kids who probably should have worn the same outfit they wore to school that day.
At some point, every middle school student has had the following thought: "This hat makes me look cooler."
No one has ever looked back and thought the same thing.
What they're up to now: Wearing fedoras and fitted baseball hats indoors to cover up a slowly receding hairlines.