Welcome to Motivational Monday where we have a special treat for you! —JoLyn Jacques is one of our Mommy Convos readers sharing why she and her husband are dancing to a different tune in their home for the better.
Dancing with the Tots
Have you ever tried to dance with someone who is so eager to dance but has no clue what they’re doing? That’s me. I never know where to put my feet and as a result I always end up on someone’s toes. Despite my lack of expertise, I still love the idea of swaying across a dance floor. Growing up, my father loved to dance. He kept a stereo in our front room and most nights we spent in that front room dancing. I have such fond memories of playing a cassette tape or vinyl record and dancing my little heart out. Wearing my frilliest nightgown I pretended it was a ball gown, invented my own interpretive dance then dance like a fool with my siblings and cousins.
Some of my best memories are dancing with my dad. There’s nothing quite like dancing with your old man and my father happens to be a great dancer. While in the army, he earned the nickname “BeBop” because he was constantly singing Gene Vincent’s “Be-Bop-A-Lula” while busting a move. He’d play an Elvis song and twirl us in a circle and he’d even pull us out from under his legs. Perhaps that’s where my affinity to dancing stems from.
As I grew older, I noticed that other people felt uncomfortable about dancing. After high school and college, I realized for the most part, people don’t dance. Dancing is no longer customary. I have attended many weddings or celebrations and watched the host try to get guests to dance and the results are disappointingly meager. Maybe it’s the lack of confidence that’s holding people back? Maybe it’s the lack of skill? What’s a celebration without letting out a little jig? Things have changed in just a few generations.
Now I’m a mother to a very active toddler who loves to dance as well. For Christmas, my father bought me a vinyl record player and we keep it in our front room just like he did when I was a child. Every time, I play a tune, my boy lights up and dances like there’s no tomorrow. He’s not even two years old and to see the look on his face when he dances lifts me heart. It is the BEST part of my day! His smile and hearty giggle takes me to another world of freedom and happiness. Every worry and fear from the day melts away when I dance with my sweetheart boy. It’s so wonderful that even Fred Astaire loved to dance with his son, Fred Astaire Jr.
It makes me sad to imagine that someday insecurity may set in and inhibit him in the future. I want him to always feel confident and to be himself. My little boy should always believe in himself and to enjoy what he does without peer pressure breathing down his back. I decided that I would do anything to keep that confidence in my child while dancing. I don’t want lack of confidence or skill to be the obstacle that keeps him from enjoying something he could excel at.
Much to my husband’s dismay, I signed us up for ballroom dance lessons, particularly Swing and Waltz. I looked at my fellow classmates. I examined the expressions of the men. Silently, I commended my husband and the other men who submitted to be there.
During the very first lesson, our instructor, Laura Balmaceda of Davis County Ballroom, explained how partnership dancing was something people used to do for entertainment and celebration. She talked about how it was a way for people to socialize, converse and enjoy one another’s company.
She stated, “Ballroom dancing is marked with grace and elegance and some formality (even in the Latin dances that are ‘sensual’ or ‘sexy’) and current popular culture often seems to not value these expressions and the formality or manners associated with that kind of interaction… Now, partnership dancing and many other kinds of personal interaction are threatened by an overall growing lack of face-to-face time and actual physical connection promoted by our increased use of technology as a replacement and partnership dancing as entertainment has become relegated to a thing of the past.”
As Ms. Balmaceda demonstrated the Waltz to our class, I felt as if I were on an episode of Downton Abbey. I straightened my posture as I envisioned being a part of British heritage. When we practiced the Swing, I felt as if I were a youth again adding a spring in my step. I was transported to each era.
Learning these dances was not easy and my husband and I definitely struggled. But interestingly enough, we still enjoyed every minute. Yeah, we didn’t understand all the steps, we stepped on each other’s toes. You bet we got frustrated with each other and we’ll never be on Dancing with the Stars. But dancing together was so enjoyable! I love working toward a goal and once we hit that goal together- it was invigorating! In those very brief moments when we could feel ourselves dancing together, swaying across the dance floor, I felt weightless. I felt a sense of freedom and accomplishment. I felt capable with my husband and know that we could work together.
Surprisingly, most of the men, including my husband, stated that they would do this again. I believe that being able to dance made them feel capable and like gentlemen. There’s always a sense of pride in men when they feel like they can take care of others.
The most important reason I went to dance class was for one little boy. They say if you want to change society, start in your own home. When my husband and I attempted to practice the dance at home, it got my little one’s attention. He’d step in between my husband and I trying to be involved in our dance. He’d mimic us with a huge smile on his face. All the frustrations and insecurities I felt in class were a small price to pay to see his happiness. I hope that by seeing my husband and I dancing, he will learn to appreciate and value dancing. I pray that we are setting a good example of manners and respecting the opposite gender as he grows to be a gentleman.
Let’s bring partnership dancing back for the sake of our children! Teach them the value of personal contact and interactions. Let’s teach them to communicate and respect the opposite gender. Teach them to be confident in themselves. Find a local dance instructor and see what you’re capable of. Thumbtack has some leads for finding an instructor. I simply Googled ‘Ballroom Dancing’ to find a class. If you want to save some pennies, there are some great videos on YouTube. At the very least, you’ll have a great time dancing for yourselves!
—- We at Mommy Convos want to thank JoLyn for her touching guest post. When my husband and I were engaged we took a dancing class and I absolutely loved learning to dance with my forever dance partner. After reading JoLyn’s fun post I’ll be researching for a nearby dance class shortly! Hope this post has encouraged you guys to do the same or at least to dance in your living room with your kiddies like no one is watching. xoxo Morgan