Friday, September 6, 2013

Anatomy of a Mormon Dance

Cara and I, circa 2005-ish, doing our little dance.

  Many people are aware that Mormons do not date until they are sixteen. What perhaps may be lesser known is that when we turn the magical age of fourteen, we are able to go to the teen dances held every few months.

  As a fourteen year old, they are thrilling. Dancing? With BOYS? Touching?! Be still my beating heart!

  I actually had a grand time at dances. Most people do, I think, until around the time they turn sixteen and they can actually go on dates. The first year of dances, I remember saying, "I don't get why when people turn sixteen they stop going to dances! I'm never going to miss ONE." Then you turn sixteen, and you realize that hanging out with all the fourteen year-olds isn't as much fun as you thought it would still be. Plus, most dances are more or less identical, and they get old. Very, very old. 

 In case you may not be Mormon and are curious about our crazy, cultish ways, here is what goes down at a Mormon dance:

  • All music will be at least ten years old. Most of it will be older. Expect some Chicago and Journey. 
  • EVERY DANCE EVER will play "Cotton Eye Joe". It's a crowd pleaser, even though we all hate it. When it comes on, we break into pairs, and run around the gymnasium, bumping into other couples. It's obnoxious, but fun the first dozen times you do it.
  • Slow dances are old school. Not quite Darcy and Elizabeth style with that weird horn going on in the BBC version, but close. (Not really) Anyway, it's the style where the guy has one hand on your waist, the other hand in yours. I've noticed there is a lot of variety in where men think a woman's "waist" is. Not that they were trying anything sketchy, though. They were just clueless, sweaty fourteen year old boys.
  • There will always be that ONE guy you really, really don't want to dance with. You cannot shake him. He will never be deterred. Just give in to the inevitable and get it over with. I once walked around the entire gym trying to shake a guy. Did not work. I then entered a circle of my guy friends and told them to shield me. Did not work. He stood directly behind me until I turned around. Seriously, get it over with. It's easier that way.
  • Break dancing is not allowed, as it is the devil's dance. Or because of liability issues, one of the two. Regardless, the two boys in the whole stake who know how to break dance will do it at some point anyway. A circle will immediately form around them, and all will be enthralled for the thirty seconds until a chaperon shows up.
  • Speaking of chaperons, you must always keep the "Book of Mormon" distance between you while dancing. If you have a special someone, and put your head on their shoulder, the chaperon WILL come up and ask you to put a little space between you two. It will be awkward the rest of the dance.
  • There will be that one ward that takes things too seriously. Way, way too seriously. One ward cut off "That Thing You Do" right in the middle because they thought it was too suggestive. We nearly revolted.
  • Be prepared to do the chicken dance, YMCA, and the Cha Cha song. Also that one dance I can't remember the name of that goes along to the "Man, I Feel Like a Woman" song. 

  What am I forgetting, guys? I know I'm leaving a bunch out. Really, though, despite all my gripes of terrible music and such, I had a lot of fun at those things. I'd never want to go again, but still.

   Good times.


  1. Yep I totally remember thinking I'd never want to miss a dance, but once you're 16 or 17 and you get 14 year old boys asking you to dance. . . I was outta there. Boys of course could keep going when they were older because the young girls pretty much worshiped them. Good memories.

  2. Oh Mormon dances, good times. Don't forget the New Years dances that had all the "steady" couples try and sneak off to kiss their significant others at midnight, haha. I chaperoned one of those actually, it was gross, (they just seem so little!) but I didn't do anything. It was just awkward. So Rob and I just made fun of them to ourselves the whole night instead.

    It's funny you posted this, because the one really clear memory I have of you is when I was like 16ish and I liked Luke Leishman. You were dancing the last dance with him and, being the dramatic person I was at the time, I had one of those Back to the Future moments in which if I didn't cut in, my life would be altered forever. Soooo I cut in. I had never done something so bold in my life, and immediately felt really stupid about it. "I can't believe I just stole a dance from JULIA BEESLEY. She's like the prettiest girl in the stake. She must hate me."

    Turns out I didn't marry him after all. Sorry for stealing your dance. I'm sure you're still devastated.

    1. Hahaha! I actually was thinking about that briefly this morning, and it helped inspire this post! I promise I didn't mind at all. I didn't LIKE like Luke at all, I was just grabbing whoever was close to me so I wouldn't be standing on the sidelines for the last dance. So I asked Luke and he was all, "Uhhhh . . . ummmm . . . Sure?". It was obvious he was going to ask someone else to dance and I felt SO STUPID. I tried to assure him he didn't have to dance with me, but he felt bad, so he insisted. Then you cut in, and I was really relieved, because obviously he wanted to be with you and he wouldn't have to be stuck with me anymore. No hard feelings whatsoever, I felt terrible the whole time. You are too sweet!

      And speaking of the New Years kisses, I briefly dated a guy who SNUCK OFF TO KISS SOMEONE ELSE at New Years. Turned out later he was dating four other girls at the same time as me, not even counting that chick. Dodged that bullet!

    2. Really?? Oh good, I'm glad that's cleared up hahaha.

      Holy crap, what a d-bag! Well, I'd say we did pretty darn good picking out husbands in the end. But yeah, I didn't have the best track record either. (Not including Luke, he was probably second best guy I dated actually)

    3. Also, I failed to address the fact that YOU were the prettiest girl in the stake. I was the weirdo, haha.

      And, yes, we did quite well in the husband department. And that's the one that really matters, thank goodness.

  3. Yeah, I loved those things. Plus I remember them always playing a lot of slow songs because that's the only time a guy would ask you to dance ever.

  4. haha this is so funny and so true. I went through the whole love dances thing again my first couple years of college too. and then the cycle just repeated.

  5. I liked the dances. My sister though, she and her friends would make a whole day of it, right up until they graduated. they would like, go out in the afternoon, come home and all get ready together, and go to the dance, and talk about it like, all week. It was good for them.
    Also, I can say now that I used to make fun of anyone who liked Luke Leishman. Even though he's alot younger than me haha. If I had hung out with either of you, you both would've been made fun of =)