Sunday, May 4, 2014

I Wore Out My Shoes!

Well, last night was one I'll never forget.

I went to a party!

Yes, a real party, one with food, drink, and dancing! You know, those things people used to go to before we took all the fun out of them by inventing clubs.

The semester is just about over for me. I've been involved in a living history group since I began my Master's program two years ago. Last night, we re-created a 1940s era United Services Organization (USO) dance party! I went as a character: a farm boy named Pat who was rejected from military service because of his flat feet, and then got a deferment because of his job. I also threw in a story about working at a POW camp with Italian prisoners.

The USO has been putting on benefit shows for the troops in ever war since 1941. They go into towns all over the world and give people and soldiers a chance to have fun. The object was to throw a party as it would have been done in 1944.

And I had a lot of fun. I mean a lot of fun.


It was my very first, authentic dance party.

You see kids, there was a time when "dancing" used to be an exercise between two or more people involving a bunch of memorized steps. At its basic level, it was repetition. When I was a young boy, The Macarena was insanely popular. If that song came on at the skating rink, you just had to do it.

Beyond basic repetition, a dance party is the one place where you can see the power of music. To be good at dancing, you have to learn how to feel the beat of a song. It controls everything you do. If you let that happen, then you start free-styling, adding kicks, spins, and swings in and around the basic steps.

In the 1940s, dancing wasn't about grinding on people to live out some sexual fantasy. It was art. It was a kind of sport, just like playing golf or tennis. In Europe, the nobility held lavish balls with dances. Why? Lots of reasons, but dancing was a way of saying, "Look at me! I don't have to work sixteen hours a day for my food, so I get to spend time learning the waltz and listening to Mozart."

I grew up in a Christian house. I've heard plenty of sermons on the eeeeevuls of dancing. By the time I was a teenager, things had changed quite a bit. Britney Spears, Cristina Aguilera, NSYNC, and the Backstreet Boys were introducing new fads. It's not hard to see where modern "gyrating" got its start. What began as two young people in nice clothes doing swing to a live band became scantily clad women and boys with drooping waist lines doing something completely different.

When most Christians hear the word "dancing" they automatically think of this. They think that dancing serves no other purpose but to stimulate lustful thoughts in youngins, and that's not fair.

Truth be told, there are plenty of wholesome dances. The waltz is one of them. So is The Charleston, The Jitterbug, The Lindy Hop, and The Box Step. There are clubs and competitions still going on all over the United States. They aren't topping the Top 40 anymore, but they endure in our culture.

Granted, people are people, and they'll do whatever they want. I'm sure somebody's thought of a Cyrus-version of The Grizzly Bear.

Yet, it's worth noting that even some modern songs have given us a few good dances. These include The Cha-Cha Slide and the Cupid Shuffle (note to self, learn those...).

I called dancing an exercise earlier. It is. I was exhausted when I got home. I woke up even tireder! Had to take a nap! There was food at the party, and I ate almost none of it. I was too busy because I knew I'd probably never get this chance again. The music was fabulous and I had a wonderful time getting to know the people.

Thank goodness I do so much cardio at the gym. It helps to have a good heart.

I can't think of a better way to end the semester.

In other news, I'm just about finished with the first volume of Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn trilogy. I figure after reading these, my palette will be cleansed enough to start editing my novel.

Power to the pen, and the cobbler who'll be fixing my shoes...

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