Want to hear about such a fun activity that everyone in our family of eight looks forward to the event with excitement? It doesn’t even include sugar, amusement rides, or an electronic device.
Would you believe me if I told you it was English Country Dancing? Seriously.
Think Pride & Prejudice with more energy.
If you are skeptical, I hear ya. So was I. My almost fourteen year old son was waaaaay more than skeptical. He was more in the “I will go because I will obey my parents, but I’m confident I’m going to hate this” camp. Actually, so were most of the kiddos. And possibly the husband.
BUT we were sold on the event a mere two or three dances into the evening.
Why do I think English Country Dancing is a fabulous family and friends event that you should try?
- It teaches young men to lead. They are responsible for asking the ladies to dance, so they have to put their fears behind them and do it. They have to lead the dance (as best as they can) for the lady, then walk her back to where she was when the dance was requested.
- It teaches young ladies to follow. Dancing real dances with specific partner dance moves is a great way to teach leadership and submission. That is modeled here in each dance ( though this kind is not as heavy on leading as dances like the two-step are), but also in the way that the girls are to wait for the young men to ask for the dance.
- It teaches patience and kindness. At both dances we have attended, there were new participants (including us!) that were not quite sure of how to do the dances (or… were lost as geese….) and there were pros. Giving grace to others as they learn and considering age/skill are an important life skills. As one of the young women said to a young man who started to get frustrated with a particular (stinkin cute) four year, “If you want to be a dad someday, you should start learning patience with young children now.”
- It allows all to have fun, versus the need for couples. As in the “old days”, participants are reminded that “unless the lady is wearing your ring, you shouldn’t dance with her more than two or three times”. This does a couple of things: it keeps romantic relationships in check, it allows all girls to be included, and it helps take a ton of pressure off everyone.
- It encourages positive boy/girl interaction. This kind of event encourages fellowship and conversation for all, including young men and women. There is not the weird date thing going on, nor the pressure of when a boy asks you to dance, it means he likes you, BUT there is the opportunity to get to know others you may be interested in knowing with a supportive and safe environment.
- It has purpose. Instead of being a free for all dance and, where some get asked, some just dance in groups, and some get left out, there is a specific task for the evening as well as as specific task for each dance itself. Having a specific purpose gives everyone a level of comfort and makes expectations clear. No one is left wondering, “What is the ‘cool’ way to dance?” or anything like that.
- It is multi-generational. While a dance like this wouldn’t be a success with crowd that is all under the age of ten, having a wide mix of ages is perfectly wonderful. I loved watching Paul Louis (age 4) dance and be encouraged by the other participants. The first dance we attended had a darling two year old do one of the dances with her father: precious. We had participants from age seven to adult who did fabulous, with a few dances thrown in where the preschoolers had a turn.
- It’s active. Everybody is moving most of the time. A planned “break” is a good thing (everybody can have a snack and some water), but for most of the time, everyone is active in a way that doesn’t require lots of experience and practice (though the ones who have done this for awhile sure look sharp!) like sports or such. It’s wonderful exercise without feeling like a workout.
- It’s tons of fun! Seriously.
I’m not sure I can convey to you how much fun this type of dancing actually is. Have I piqued your interest?
Naturally, you have to have a few couples that know how to do each dance and a caller, but after that, all that is required is some people with adventurous spirits. It won’t take long to fall in love with this activity. We are so sold on it, that if we ever move, we will commit to learning how to teach and call, just so we can have more dances.
Added bonus: When one of the dances was explained as “this is the dance Fezziwig does” in A Christmas Carol,/Scrooge my kiddos all looked at me with wide eyed grins. :-)
As we pull away in our suburban every time, my kids all say, “When’s the next dance?!”
Yup, English Country Dancing is a blast. Whoddathunkit?