Movies like “Grease,” “Footloose,” “Dirty Dancing” and “Saturday Night Fever” taught us the dance floor was the original “dating site.” It was a place where you could make physical contact without engaging in something that would require repentance later. A place where you could get slapped for getting too handsy, but you tried anyway. A place where you didn’t have to have the skills of Fred Astaire or Ginger Rogers to make a love connection.
There is something about “shaking your groove thing,” “shaking it like a salt shaker” or “shaking it like a Polaroid picture” that tears down walls and brings people together.
I have always been one who loved dance. My childhood was filled with it. My mother had music playing on most days and would regularly spin me around the living room, telling me to, “shake your po-po.” Knowing how much dancing meant to her, my father snuck out and took Arthur Murray dance classes so he could impress his love. Imagine her surprise when they stepped out on the dance floor and his clunky box steps had been replaced with a foxtrot that made all the other women in the establishment swoon.
As a child, I would take my homework and sit at the table and watch them glide across the barroom floor. (This was when it was socially normal to take your children to the little neighborhood bar during the week, but “not on the weekends because that’s when there are too many drunks and too many fights” ... quote from my mother.) Seeing them move across the floor, holding each other in their arms, was like watching a romantic movie where my parents played the lead. I learned then that dance was full of love and made people happy.
On many occasions, dad would take my hand instead of my mother’s and lead me to the dance floor. I felt as if I was floating as we moved under the sparkly lights, his spins and dips making me feel so fancy and grown up.
Fortunately for me, my dance legacy didn’t stop there. I went on to marry guy who also loves to dance. He only knows two steps, but he uses them with more confidence and sexiness than any professional dancer could pull off. He also throws in his “bite your bottom lip” signature move just to make me melt.
Several years back, we were convinced that our freestyle dance moves were so amazing we could rock the ballroom, so we signed up for a couple’s dance class. We walked into the studio sure we were going to be the star pupils of the group and probably land some kind of lucrative deal to be global representatives of that fine establishment.
The instructor showed us how the first dance was to be done and hit the music. Off we went. Hubby went one way and I went the other. After several arguments and very little coordinated movement between us, the instructor intervened and informed us that it was obvious from the repeated stepping on each other’s toes that our marriage was one where both of us wanted to lead. Apparently moonlighting as a marriage counselor, he went on to explain that two leaders are great when you are conquering the world, but not a great formula for a beautiful waltz. We not only didn’t get a trophy for our moves, but we had to stay after for extra coaching, none of which helped. (Side note: Of the six couples who joined the class with us, two of them got divorced shortly after. Nothing brings issues to the surface like being “in hold” for an hour every week for eight weeks.)
I am happy to report our marriage was one that made it through the perils of dance class, and even though my head heard that we failed, my hips did not get the memo. To this day, no matter where I am when I hear music — the car, the mall, the cereal aisle at the store or even church — my fearless hips still want to react as if they are at a “Dancing with the Stars” audition. They have no shame. Just a need for rhythmic wiggling, any time, any place.
I blame my parents.