On my tombstone, it’ll probably read “He was a good dancer”—if my wife gets to choose what’s on my tombstone, that is.
You see, I’m a pretty big guy and “graceful” is not among the words that most might use to describe me. I can carry heavy things and, when I walk in a crowd, people often step aside as I make my way from point A to point B. I’m not a complete hulking, bumbling oaf but, I’m no Fred Astaire either.
Here’s my first secret of dancing: I don’t dance often, but when I do, it’s remarkable.
This tradition started over ten years ago at our company Christmas parties. I work in a department of mostly, very technical people—nerds, if you must. We aren’t a group of people who would be likely contestants on one of those dancing contest reality shows. However, once a year, all of our co-workers would gather around and watch us dance. My good friend, Brian, was the ring-leader and taught us all dances like “the lawnmower”, “picking apples”, “rodeo cowboy”, “robot”, and the like. It wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t cool. Everybody watched and laughed and had a good time.
Here’s my second secret of dancing: I dance when it needs to be done.
A few years ago, Katie and I went to her last father-daughter dance. She was in sixth grade. The scene was the middle school café-torium. There were dozens of daddy-daughter couples, the music was Donna Summers and NOBODY was dancing. Daughters were looking ashamed that their dads were 30-something wallflowers. Daddies were staring at their feet. Katie looked up at me and then we both looked back down at our feet. Then it hit me: “This is a dance! We need to dance and someone has to get this party started!” So, much to Katie’s chagrin and the delight of the mom’s who organized the event, I grabbed Katie’s little trembling hand, we ran to the center of the café-torium dance floor and busted some crazy moves. Perhaps the worst dancing ever, but we got the party started and soon daddies and daughters were all giggling and dancing and having fun. It wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t cool. Everybody watched and laughed and had a good time.
Here’s my final secret of dancing: I dance for joy.
When our one-year-old eats his meals, we generally make sure that some sort of music is playing. It’s become an unofficial tradition that we enjoy. Sometimes its children’s music. Sometimes its Mowtown. Sometimes its Disco, Broadway, or Big Band. Occasionally, these meals with soundtracks are immediately followed by impromptu dance parties. Right there in our kitchen, my wife, and I start dancing with all our hearts and seemingly endless energy. The best part of it is that Jake (a.k.a. “Goobie”) dances too. He LOVES it! In fact, he now dances pretty much anytime he hears music—anywhere, anytime. And he is a MUCH better dancer than I am. There’s something about being two-feet tall and adorable that makes you a better dancer. When we dance like that, the laughing and good feelings are wonderful and overwhelming. It’s pure joy. It may not be pretty. It may not be cool. But we all watch each other, we laugh until our sides hurt and we have some of the best times in our lives.
The following YouTube video was shot by my wife, Jenny, last Christmas when we got a Wii dancing game. You will see some of my mad dancing skills. You may laugh. I don’t mind. If you listen, you will hear my family having a great time. If you listen very carefully, you may even hear the sound of my mother guffawing at my ridiculous dance moves. Sadly, this is the last video that was taken that captured my mom’s voice before she died a few weeks later. I will never again feel embarrassed about my dancing or miss an opportunity to “bust a move” because I’ve learned that silly dancing brings joy and life is far too short to miss out on those opportunities to make someone you love laugh out loud.
“I hope you dance” ~Lee Ann Womack
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