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Friday, October 28, 2005 

Put on your red shoes and dance the blues

In dancing, as in most things, I require a rigid set of parameters within which I can work. I need a topic to post regularly; I need a page number to write to. If I can figure out the limits in the system, I can use it pretty well. Which is why I am a pretty good "ballroom" dancer (ie. I can do "dances"), but is also why I cannot dance.

Having said that, I don't know why I preferred school dances to stake dances growing up, but I did. After all, what you could and couldn't do was much more strictly defined at stake dances. Some dances were entirely inappropriate. The maintenance of the standard "Book of Mormon width" distance between yourself and your partner was enforced. PDA was discouraged. Learning how to interact appropriately with the opposite sex must be accomplished.

School dances, on the other hand, weren't actually any fun either, but they were more relaxed. You hung out with the people there because you actually liked them (not because they happened to be the only people you knew or the only other members in the area). The teachers didn't ultimately care about the morals of their students and, as a result, we were generally moral. If you left early to go get something to eat, there was no sense of failing to do your part to develop the church and perfect the saints in your area.

Perhaps the pioneers danced because everything else about their lives was so horrible and chaotic that the order and design of those cottilions and Virginia rolls gave them a sort of peace and a sense of civilization that was otherwise utterly absent. The youth today dance because they are told that they need to be date hungry by 16 and this is to prep them for that big date. So, I don't know that the continued emphasis on group dancing is that good an idea (although, if we did it pioneer style, I could put those 8th grade square dance lessons to work).

I think dances are intended to be about building a community. Shared movement is a ritual that brings people closer together. Rock, Rap, Funk, and other modern musical forms simply aren't conducive to such community building (setting the Electric Slide aside, of course). The forms and the dances that accompany them are grounded in the individual experience. They simply don't accomplish the sorts of things that the pioneer dances did for the church community. As a result, we have lost some of our ability to be around each other, which is sad.

At school, society was already splintered. You danced to the songs you liked. You sat for the songs you didn't. You didn't have to be friends with everyone else. The school dance dynamic is much more suited to the musical forms of the era. Can you imagine what would happen if everyone had to dance with everyone? Where would all the cliques go? ;>

In any case, I am much better at the dancing of the pioneers and much more amenable to the setting of the school dance. Is this a case of being in the world, but not of the world? I dunno. All I can tell you is that it's electric.

Wow, man, I'm the opposite, a total klutz at proper dancing. I wish I could do it, and enjoyed traditional English country dancing on the few occasions I had to try it, but anything more complicated, no way.

I liked dances. As a youth, I wasn't good making conversation with the ladies, but I made up for it on the dance floor. Church dances were always awkward-- the music wasn't quite right, lights too bright and I always felt stiff dancing in my Sunday Best. So I preferred the high school dances and later, the clubs. Having little kids and all, I don't have much of an opportunity to go clubbing anymore, and I miss it.

--JLS

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This Week's Topic:

  • The Sabbath Day

Various Authors

  • Monday:
    Kaycee opted out of Mormondom 4 years ago. She calls herself agnostic.
  • Tuesday:
    Sarah is not your average Gospel Doctrine Teacher.
  • Wednesday:
    Carrie Ann comes from pioneer stock, and lives in Provo, but is open minded and fair.
  • Thursday:
    Ned Flanders hasn't been to church in a while, but maintains an interest in all things Mormon.
  • Friday:
    John C. is an academic with a sense of humor and a testimony.
  • Saturday:
    JP's not going to church and feeling okay about it.

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