Last night we had a family dance here at the Feast of Tabernacles in St. Vincent and it led me to ponder more than just the dance itself. Sadly, I missed the karaoke section that had lasted 45 minutes because dinner ended up taking a long time (although it was very tasty), and perhaps I would have enjoyed the dance a bit more had I been around and participating in karaoke. Family dances are a tricky thing to do well because there are so many groups of people involved who all have different interests and different approaches to music. And having been involved in and having gone to a great many of them, there were at least a few things about this particular dance that could have gone better. Still, I ended up dancing with a lovely young lady, and so it certainly ended up going better than a great many of the family dances I have gone to over the past few years, so there’s that.
Let us start with being a bit personal. What is my psychology when it comes to a family dance? Well, my own feelings tend to be complex. I tend to be someone who has a great deal of reluctance to jump into the dancing of silly songs without having first done some slow dances with people to feel a bit comfortable in the dance. Most dances appear to be made for people who have the exact opposite sort of approach to dances than I do, with a lot of silly group dance songs and only a few slow songs, with a lot of light where I prefer dim lights, with loud music where I prefer music that is soft enough where one can have a good conversation without too much trouble, and where I like having the freedom to enjoy watching while this particular dance had a bunch of people pressuring me to do the cha cha slide or other silly dances which I had no particular enthusiasm or interest in doing. There was a real mismatch between what would have been most comfortable to me than what the people planning and deejaying the dance were about, and this is a relatively common problem. I just tend to be the sort of person who goes against the grain, I suppose.
But there are plenty of tensions that are inherent in the setup of a family dance to begin with, and it is interesting to see how people handle those. For one, there are a lot of rather dumb but occasionally fun songs that are a given to be played, whether one does the Macarena or cha cha slide or the funky chicken polka or does line dancing or a conga line or something like that. Those sorts of things have to be expected because the songs, whether old or relatively new, are one of the few things that many generations have in common. And I can’t say I blame the deejays at a foreign site for trying to blend songs popular between different generations as well as some songs from the USA and some from the Caribbean that different people will know and like, and if the focus on fast songs was not one I particularly appreciated, it is hard to appeal to everyone, especially those of us who tend to enjoy dances the best when there is a gradual and patient approach, rather than assuming that everyone has fun in the same way and appreciates being crammed in on the dance floor with others who want to make sure that no one is sitting on the sidelines of the dance, even if they might otherwise want to much of the time, at least until the moment and the song are right, which seldom seems to happen.