In a recent broadcast, Paul Harvey was reporting how a certain activity was banned in the 1930’s, first by Germany and then by other countries. It seems that this activity had caused some deaths and injuries. It was also considered to be an immoral activity. The activity was dancing! I did some research on my own regarding his comments and was overwhelmed by the information I obtained. Most of it focused on various ballroom dances, in particular the Tango. The Charleston was another dance under question.
In 1958, dancing was considered to be lewd and vulgar. Mind you this was not the opinion of everyone, but in our home it was strictly prohibited. We were Baptists and Baptists didn’t dance!
Being a preacher’s kid was hard. There were expectations from the congregation for us to be above reproach, leaving no room for error or sin. It was okay if they did all the fun stuff, but not the preacher and not his kids! A bit of a double standard I would say, seeing as we all tried to live by the same rule book. Trouble was, there was nothing in the rule book that said you shouldn’t dance. This notion had been passed along from generation to generation and no one bothered to look it up in the Bible. The Psalms speak of dancing before the Lord, right? At any rate, Daddy was firm on the subject. He said dancing led to no good. The fact that he was a teenager in the 1930’s and heard about the ban and immorality of dancing contributed to his mindset.
It was late afternoon and I had taken my usual place in front of the television set to watch The Little Rascals and Popeye. I was a loyal viewer and loved these two shows. I even watched the commercials. My favorite one was a Lay’s commercial. It featured three little pigs who would dance across the screen, chorus line style. The jingle went something like this:“Lay’s three little pigs sing merrily. We’re for Lays come diddle-dee-dee. Lays, the best meat at your grocery store”The jingle had a catchy little tune. I sang along with the TV commerical and later too, long after it had ended. It is one of those songs that can get on your mind and you can’t get rid of it. On this particular day, I was totally engrossed in my TV program and was oblivious to anything going on around me. When the jingle began and the three little pigs started dancing, so did I! I danced back and forth in front of the screen, singing my little heart out. My hips were wiggling and my body was jiggling, at least as much as a little girl’s body can. Talk about being in one’s own little world!When the song was over, I turned around to find my seat, a pink rocking chair, only to see my daddy sitting on the couch behind me, peering over his newspaper. I was stunned that he had come into the room without me noticing. I plopped into my chair, turning my back on my father. How quickly the wiggling turned to trembling and found it’s way past my hips to my lips. I totally froze, thinking that I was surely in for the spanking of my life and doomed to eternal Hell.
I held the pose briefly and felt the glare of my father’s eyes on the back of my head. I would surely perish, right then and there. And then, I did what anyone in my vulnerable position would do…I fled!
Mother was in the kitchen cooking supper. I ran straight to her and looked up at her with fear in my eyes. “I was dancing with the Lay’s three little pigs and Daddy saw me.” I confessed. “I’m scared I’m going to get a whipping.” She assured me that everything would be alright. She made her way into the living room to approach my father. I didn’t dare follow her for fear that if I was anywhere near that room, my behind and Daddy’s J.C. Penney’s #32 would collide.
My eyes couldn’t meet Daddy’s at the supper table, and I couldn’t wait to ask to be excused. I later found out that Daddy thought my little show was quite amusing and had laughed hysterically about the incident. It’s too bad that I worried about it until I was fifteen!
I’ve always loved dancing. Anytime I hear music, my body automatically wants to move. I observed my youngest daughter, when she was four months old. She would get up on all fours and sway back and forth in time to the music. I believe that we are born with a natural desire for movement and keeping time to the beat of music. We either develop that skill or let it rust until we can’t use it. You know-use it or lose it. Even Baptists tap their toes to a good gospel song.
Many years have passed since my dad saw me dancing to the Lay’s jingle. Who knew that I was destined to lead aerobic dance classes? I didn’t start teaching them until my mother and dad had passed away, but I do believe that they would be very proud of me, even as they dance around the streets of heaven.
It was meant for me to dance, because fitness dancing has been a career for me for nearly two decades. Dancing is very good for your heart and mobility. It can help to develop your social skills, too.
If you aren’t physically active and the gym or a treadmill is unappealing to you, but you love music, just put on your favorite CD and start moving. Your body will move naturally. There is no right or wrong way to do it. Dancing is self-expression. It is a great workout and a terrific stress reliever, and it burns calories just like any other physical activity. It is heart healthy, so dance until your heart’s content.
Daddy meant well, he was just a little to the right of far right. He mellowed as time passed and enjoyed watching dancers on TV, but her never saw ME dance again! Being caught in the act of doing the piggy shuffle was far too traumatic for an encore.
Parents, never discourage your children from doing any type of physical activity. Better yet, do it with them. Set the example for them. You never know, they might make a living by doing their chosen activity, just like I have.
Now that I’ve brought it back to mind, that darn jingle is playing over and over again in my head. Please excuse me, I must dance!
What does that sign say that you see everywhere now? “Work as if you don’t need the money. Love as if you’ve never been hurt. Dance as if no one is watching.” I was dancing as if no one was watching, except that he was!