The first time I can remember being confused by dancing was when my my dad would play Elvis Presley records and jived around my living room in a bathrobe to ‘Hound Dog.”
The second time was I witnessed my mother grooving to the tunes of her youth at a Bruce Springsteen concert. It wasn’t really dancing, but more of a feet firmly planted, upper body twisting while simultaneously moving arms in a ‘choo-choo train’ motion to the beat of “Born To Run.”
I’m absolutely forty-percent positive my parents were once big-whigs on the dance floor. But after the poor display over the course of my youth, I felt certain that I was destined for mockery when it came to cutting a rug.
It only recently dawned on me that not only do we enter different stages of life as people, but of dancing as well. Do you ever see an eighty-year old woman dropping into a worm? No. Can you picture a four-year-old busting out jazz hands like he or she is the main event at a cheerleading competition? Not intentionally, that is.
We enter a phase of dance that follows us through specific years of our lives. From birth to death, there are certain dances that are inherently acceptable and they are as follows:
This is when you’re a baby and dancing means grasping firmly onto any surface that will withstand your baby grip and repeatedly trying to sit down whilst not letting go. It’s like you’re doing wall sits, but there happens to be music going on and your mother claps in approval while filming your half-sits and appropriately titling it “JOSH’S FIRST DANCE!” when she posts it on her Facebook wall.
If you are a girl, you had your friends over your house while you made a choreographed dance to the best hits of the decade. The amount of times I had my mother sit and film my friends and I doing dance routines that consisted of high fives and somersaults is almost unmanageable. But it’s a just right of passage to the better years.
Middle School dancing is all about the Bat and Bar Mitzvahs. If there was ever an age-inappropriate event it would be these shindigs. Sure, I had fun, but attending a party that cost ten grand at twenty-two would have been a way better use of my Saturday afternoon. The cutest boys were there, there were cheap, carnivalesque prizes, and a DJ spinning on the ones and twos. Everyone who was anyone was invited. There were parental chaperones, so the closest dance you got with a boy was a slow dance to Brian McKnight’s “Start Back At One” and you always had to dance forming the shape of an A to leave room for Jesus.
Prommy, prom, prom. Is he going to ask? Am I going to have to shell out two-hundred dollars for a faux satin dress with gaudy embellishments that I will wear only once? The first taste of adulthood comes with a hairdo that never turns out the way you want it, and a first come, first serve atmosphere when it comes to dresses. You do NOT want to have the same dress. Also, make sure to get one with forgiving and flowing fabric; you’re going to need it when you’re grinding dirty all up on the overly hormonal boys in your class. Feet planted, legs alternating, as close as possible, hands around the neck, then move back and forth in sync. That’s it. You’ve mastered the art of the high school grind. NEVER MAKE EYE CONTACT. So awkward.
Go to the bar. Get a drink, dance alone. Dance with a guy. Dance with a girl. Dance against a wall. All acceptable. As long as when you’re dancing, the drink you’re holding is swaying back and forth uncontrollably and spilling everywhere. You’re a hot mess and it’s okay. Nothing is expected of you.
Suddenly, all the songs that were the hot beats at middle school dances are all the rage again at your wedding. It’s like you instinctively remember that you are leaving your youth to enter holy matrimony, so the final event on your first day of marital bliss will be to take a trip down memory lane and Cha-Cha Slide and YMCA all over the reception hall.
Is there anything more embarrassing than Dad Dancing? Showing up with your parents at an event and after the meal looking over to find you dad flailing his arms in the air like he’s sending SOS signals to the DJ. Look over to your right and you see your mother simulating a choo-choo train and everything comes full circle in your life. You’ve seen the pinnacle of bustin a move, and your future with gyrating does not look pretty. But hey, at least you can make it look good, right?