Sunday, August 24, 2008

Idea for Wacky Reality / Game Show...

"I Survived an LDS Singles Dance"

Winners will be judged on emotional state, level of self-esteem, hope for the future of dating after 40, and last but not least: how much their feet hurt.

Despite a slight bout of stomach-knotting mini panic attack as we arrived, it wasn't as bad as anticipated. It was one of those "smaller" dances, shunned by the cool folks at The Singles Ward. That alone takes away many of the factors that make one take oaths against attendance. For example, try as I might, I couldn't pick a Barbie out of the crowd, and the ratio of men to women was, oddly enough, very near even. There was even a point, during songs that required rhythm and dance moves, when a small group of MEN actually stood together at The Edge. Much to their credit, however, everyone chose up partners when slow songs were played.

But lest you think I have completely caved and been reconverted, let's just look at a few of the finer details, shall we?

I actually danced four times. Once was the requisite "Electric Slide". WAY too much like exercise. I had to rest after that.

The first dance was with a rather small man who turned out to be 67 years old. I had always been conditioned to believe that sitting in the chairs along the dance floor, rather than standing on display, meant that you do not wish to be asked to dance. I was apparently wrong.

Point #1: I resent being lumped socially into a group that includes folks older than my mother.

He asked where I lived and how long I'd lived there, shared that he'd have been married 31 years, the length of time he's lived in town, had his dear wife not passed. He admired my earrings. He asked if I owned my own home. He said I was a very beautiful woman.

Upon comparison of notes with my friends, dancing with this gentleman follows the same conversational lines no matter who you are or how many times he's danced with you previously.

Second dance was with someone I met at the Social Gathering at my Dear New Friend's house. He's a very animated and adventurous dancer, and it was quite enjoyable.

As I looked around I saw several faces I recognized from the dances I used to attend 7 or 8 years ago.

Point #2: the group has not changed or evolved, it's just getting older.

As am I, as my feet and legs and respiratory rate let me know after the "Electric Slide".

Point #3: someone with actual dance ability should choose the music.

Loosely translated: play some disco! If the entire crowd can be persuaded onto the dance floor for the milk-toast rhythms of "The Electric Slide", how excited might they be over some BeeGees and the Hustle!!?? The REAL Hustle, not the hustle-wannabe-electric-slide.

The music mix varied from "Don't you wish your girlfriend was hot like me" to some country-sounding contemporary Christian piece to which the masses slow-danced. There were a couple of selections bordering on rap, which I am sure everyone in the room is too old for and could do without. There was some Rock, to which my 2nd dance partner did a respectable Air Guitar. There was FAR too much Country sappy-slow-song-crap, to which more than a few couples did not actually "dance" but rather stand in an extended hug, feet not moving, but swaying occasionally, ever so slightly, so as to make it even more difficult to distinguish between dancing and merely mashing. I was not sure if one couple was holding one another up or publicly enjoying a little extended full-body contact which would be inappropriate were they alone.

There was, of course, also the Usual Cast of Characters:

The Ballroom Dance Couple:
No matter the tune, they can waltz to it. Country, rock, pop, anything. It's almost as if they are oblivious to the music and would continue dancing were it to stop. Unfortunately for those of us who have long-enjoyed mocking this couple, the recent popularity of dance shows on TV have made it OK to ballroom to all types of music. Hmmf. Now I'm left just admiring their skill set.

The Fancy Two-Step Couple:
50's, both tall and slender, no doubt skilled, but why is it that Country dancing looks so darn STIFF? I think the Viennese Waltz has more funk.

This guy looks like he's on a pass from the Assisted Living Home, breathing with his mouth hanging open, hunched over, feet barely moving...and dancing with the youngest woman in the room. What the H#!! ? Creepy. Just creepy. (see Point #1)

The Handicappers:
I hesitate to expound, lest I be seen as intolerant and cruel. To these mentally and physically challenged Brothers and Sisters, bless their hearts, I tip my hat. Some have been faithfully attending these events for over 30 years. Social highlight I suppose, but, and here comes the part for which I'll receive letters, it gives the event somewhat a feel of The Center on a Saturday night, leaving a slight aroma of pathetic-ness by association.

The Stomper:
Not a rhythmic bone is his body. When certain ethnic groups first accused certain other ethnic groups of the inability to boogy, they were looking at The Stomper. I think hitting each beat that hard is the only way he can find it.

Rico Suave:
Latin guy, white pants, sports coat, ladies' man. 'Nuff said.

The Polygamist Dancers:
Yes, just like it sounds, several women, one token man. D'oh! I was part of this group!! Personally I prefer the All Girl Dance Review which boldly claims "We do not need a man to shake our booties", but I can hang with the mixed crowd too, if it makes others more comfortable, because when the three girls in a row start chair-dancing and the beat has grabbed hold, you just gotta dance.

Has anything changed in the past 10 years? As I looked around the room, from the refreshment table to the middle-aged dancers to the lines of chairs defining the dance floor, I realized that one thing had changed: Me.

No longer does the opinion of this collection determine my level of content with self. No longer does being asked to dance signify my worth in the universe. I really could just be there with friends and have a good time, not to mention much-needed physical activity, without feeling judged, picked over and rejected.

10 years ago I wanted to say that I didn't care what others thought of me, but it was a facade. I did care. I still needed the validation of a dance invitation. I still thought I might actually "meet" someone, and I still hoped for "dating". 10 years ago I left dances feeling lower and more negatively about myself than I did when I arrived.

What has changed? Acceptance of reality? Of self-as-is? Menopause? All of the above? I had to admit to my companions at the end of the night, that while it wasn't a Bootie Bustin' Boogie Fest, neither was it as bad as I thought it would be.

Might I be tempted to return? Tempted...not really. Talked into it again by the girls?

1 comment:

Merilee said...
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