Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Church Dances

Take one part raging (and repressed) hormones, one part angst ridden despair, add a spritz of Attention Deficit Disorder, talk to your local Bishopric member to get your dance card, and hang on for dear life. You my friend, are invited to the church dance.

While not wholly unique to Mormon culture, the LDS or so called church dance is a nuanced affair and has unique features not present in secular school dances. Any societal gathering where adolescent boys and girls have the opportunity to interact and mingle will bring on a certain degree of anxiety, but imagine if you will a gathering where you may or may not be making an impression on the person you will one day marry for all eternity.

No pressure there.

It would take a web based database on the scale of Wikipedia to chronicle all of the unique characters that populate the church dance, but some regular attendees include:

The guy who asks every girl to dance: This well bred young man will ask every girl to dance, regardless of physical appearance, because they are all “sweet spirits”. Beware, as this young man sometimes is just masquerading and turns out to be “the guy who asks all the ugly girls to dance to impress one really hot girl who thinks that it’s ‘sweet’”.

The ska/slam dance/emo/mosh brigade (depending on era attended): self-explanatory.

The too cool for school group: They will melt you with their white hot stares until you evaporate into thin air before their very eyes. Cliques from your ward learned their techniques in the minors. Warning, they will never dance.

The stalker: The kid who will find the guy/girl that he/she likes, and try to ask them for every slow dance, OR will find the same person from one week to another and always sneak in at least one dance. Special note #1, if someone has done this to you, you are already a couple in their mind. Special note #2, if you don’t know who the stalker is, you might be the stalker.

The investigator/recent convert: this young person almost always behaves better than actual members.

Bolo tie guy: often seen with a satin shirt and cowboy boots to finish off the ensemble.

The couple that will need to talk to Bishop tomorrow: the gravitational pull generated from their body proximity during slow dances will draw chaperones towards them like a planetary mass. No number of admonitions of keeping Book of Mormon length apart (or a quad length apart in more orthodox Mormon communities) will keep this from happening.

The kid that is so little, you cannot believe he is old enough to come to the church dance, but is: Don’t worry, the fear he feels now will contribute to his spiritual development later on. He will score plenty of dates by asking hot girls out in semi-stalkerish ways (see related post).

The group of kids that try to get inappropriate song requests past the DJ: Blister in the Sun is the poster child for this phenomenon
The church dance is never finished until its participants have paid their requisite visit to the local Denny's/IHOP to top off the evening by enjoying a Rooty Tooty Fresh and Fruity or Moons Over My Hammy as they scramble to close any loose ends, such as getting digits, or making loud and obnoxious announcements over the restaurant's loud speaker.

In a very scientific survey, conducted by this very website, the first ever class of the “Church Dance Hall of Fame” was recently inducted. Those sacrosanct songs are:
Lady in Red by Chris DeBurgh
I Will Always Love You by Whitney Houston
Cotton Eye Joe by Rednex
Blister in the Sun by Violent Femmes
It’s the End of the World as We Know it (And I Feel Fine) by R.E.M.
(I would Walk) 500 Miles by Proclaimers
YMCA by The Village People
Tainted Love by Soft Cell
Bizarre Love Triangle by New Order
Rock Lobster and/or Love Shack by The B-52’s
**These are merely the first inductees. Please submit further nominees in the comments section for this post.


Wm Morris said...

"Forever Young" by Alphaville
"In Your Eyes" by Peter Gabriel

Connie said...

Funny stuff. I just sent this to my newly 14-year-old cousin, who will be attending his very first church dance on Saturday.

Dana and Ken said...

When I was going to church dances, a required song was Jambalaya by Hank Williams, Jr. This is in no way, shape, or form a "dance" song, but for some unknown reason, it had to be played every single time. Once (and only once), a brave soul started skipping around the Cultural Hall with her partner, and inspired everyone else to join in, creating a giant chain.

breymom said...

The power of Love by Celine Dion

seashmore said...

Lonestar: Amazed

Micah said...

I think Love Shack got played more than Rock Lobster.
From this Moment - Shanaia Twain
Chicken Dance Song
Cha Cha Slide

Oh and I love the bryan adams one where everyone stops half way through thinking the song is over then akwardly decide if they should start dancing again or go their separate ways to stand alone trying not to look too stupid.
"Everything I do"

I think I was a mix of the stalker, ska/mosh pit

Anonymous said...

I can't remember a church dance where they didn't play kiss by a rose and butterfly kisses.

Zar said...

Somebody, Depeche Mode

Faithfully, Journey

Electric Slide

the Mormons at our HS (I was not LDS at the time) always invited us to go "Mormon Dancing" - and there were consistently at least 5 of us non-Mormons cutting rugs with these peculiar youth.

Jamie Lynn said...

You totally can't forget "Save the Best for Last" by Vanessa Williams! FABULOUS list.........WAY too many memories!

TomG said...

You forgot to mention the herds, groups of girls that stnd in a tight circle with their backs to the dance as though one of them could be picked for sacrifice on the dance floor at any moment. These bovine-like groups are known to have periodic migrations to the restroom whenever a particularly undesirable male approaches. They also tend to include at least one attractive female whose draw is a constant source of irritation to other herd members.

Anonymous said...

As an old timer...Rock Lobster. The strange irony of Fred Snyder being a stapple in church....down..down down

Boy's Mama said...

I miss slam dancing! Nice job on the blog, I love it. You should include "Rush" by Paula Abdual (Is she the one that sang that?) in the next version. If you are making a "Church Dance Mix" sign me up for 2 copies! Oh, and where's the Electric Slide, man?!

Anonymous said...

This is why I joined the church. Nothing like an official Mormon dance to meet your future husband. Sometimes I wish I was young again just so I could go to these and rekindle the feelings.

indeazgirl said...

You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling. Hand Jive. Circle of Life.

Rachel of the Swamp said...

Another fond memory for many is finally getting up the nerve to ask that sparkling Someone to dance with you, then not being able to communicate with them over the blare of said nostalgic melodies! Oh, you'd attempt conversation at first. But after several awkward "What?"s and "Huh?"s, you'd settle into a silent sway.

JAMIE said...

Instanbul by They Might Be Giants
Forever Young by Alphaville
Somebody by Depeche Mode

This was late 80s early 90s in San Diego. :)

Jolyn said...

Growing up in Southern Cal in the 70's we always ended our dances with "I Wanna Rock n Roll All Night" by KISS. Those were the days of live bands, packed cultural halls,and chocolate shakes at Bob's Big Boy after the dance...

The Mighty Minyard's said...

Cupid Shuffle, Electric Slide... YMCA DUHHe