Monday, March 8, 2010

Where have all the dancers gone?

Every weekend when they were younger, my grandparents would go dancing. I know this because I hear stories about Foxtrot-ing at the ballroom or how wildly fun the polka bands at the local VFW were. The stories all end the same way, with everyone taking off their shoes and limping out to the cars, driving back to someone’s house where they would then put on more music, move all the furniture and dance even more.
I hear about so-and-so who was the best two-stepper, and you-know-who who could jitterbug his way right through the floor, not to mention the polka dancer that would really whip you around the room. Granted, growing up in the Cleveland area, all of these people had last names with 14 consonants and ended in either “czek” or “ski,” but still I think that this dance craze went well beyond the limits of our ethnicity.
But I’m afraid those limits don’t matter now, because no one dances anymore.
Just recently I asked my friend if she knew anyone who was getting married who might need an extra guest, because it seems that weddings are the only places these days to really get a good dance in. Sure there are bars and dance clubs, but for people like me who are genetically programmed to be a danceaholic, weddings are about the only place to go. Strobe lights aren’t really my thing.
I pled my case to her. “Really,” I said, “I don’t even need a seat because I don’t ever really sit at a reception. I’m the first one on the dance floor and the last one to leave. I will dance with anyone and everyone, I don’t mind if it’s the Electric Slide or the Cha Cha Slide or the Boot Scootin’ Boogie. I’ll even happily do the Chicken Dance. All I need is a dance floor and a safe place to store my shoes when the dogs start barking.”
Much to my chagrin, she knew of no upcoming weddings that I could crash, but she offered to come along if I found one. She, too, was a lover of the parquet floor.
So I asked more friends. And while none of them knew of any weddings that needed a guest that would happily lead the Locomotion train, they all agreed that there’s just no where to dance these days.
My grandparents had their polkas and their ballrooms. My parents had sock hops and canteens. What is my generation stuck with? The California Raisin hand twirl, the Macarena and the slow dance. It’s actually depressing. My children, sadly enough, are left with even less. Some children only know social dancing as R-rated movements and dance video games. There’s no feel of the floor under your feet, there’s no mystery of what song is coming next. There’s no someone shouting “ONE two three ONE two three” in your ears and letting out a “whooooop!” or an “aye aye!” during an exceptionally good accordion solo.
Ballroom-type dancing, I fear, is becoming a lost art. Yes, we see it on TV, where the stars are gliding and flipping across the stage. While that’s beautiful, it’s a little out of reach for those of us married to someone with two left feet (sorry, dear, not that I’m much better), not that it matters because dance halls are so very long gone. For generations, dancing has been the social glue that held our weeknights together until movies and technology came along and we as a society lost all sense of rhythm and gross motor skills.
Maybe I’m crazy, but I wish the Cha Cha and the Rumba would be graduation requirements. Waltz for extra credit. I know I could some lessons myself, and I think my kitchen floor is just barely big enough to practice and pass those lessons on to my kids while they are still young enough not to think I’m completely crazy.
Until then, anyone need a date for a wedding?

6 comments:

The Starr Family said...

You are outrageous. If we crash a wedding, do we get new monikers?

BECKY said...

I just love the way you think! You should've been born in a different era, maybe? I've always said that about myself, because I love the music from the 1940's and '50s. But, hey, I like just about all music! Great post!

AmyLK said...

I love dancing at weddings! I have one in April........... of next year! Sorry. lol

Anonymous said...

Polka dances are alive and well in Cleveland Oh. They welcome everyone. Check out joeytomsick@yahoo.com for all the lastest polka dances. Also Rolondos' in North Canton has polka dances just about every Sunday from 2-6. They also play a varity of music. Check them out you'll have a great time.
Shirley

Amy Crookes said...

I have a wedding this weekend in Sydney if you feel like jumping on a plane. I am sure they would be happy to have you if you came all that way for a dance!

At my wedding my husband included in his speech "By the way, if you want to see Amy at anytime during the night you will have to look for her on the dance floor as she said she has no plans on coming off!" They all thought he was joking!

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